Journal of Family and Economic Issues

, Volume 34, Issue 3, pp 275–284 | Cite as

Financial Literacy: Building Economic Empowerment with Survivors of Violence

  • Judy L. PostmusEmail author
  • Sara-Beth Plummer
  • Sarah McMahon
  • Karen A. Zurlo
Original Paper


The purpose of this paper is to outline key constructs including financial literacy, economic self-efficacy, economic self-sufficiency, and economic empowerment, and then present findings from an exploratory study that sought to understand the relationship among these variables in a sample of abused women. The results revealed positive and significant relationships between financial literacy with economic empowerment, economic self-efficacy and economic-self sufficiency. Results also indicated that financial literacy, race, and economic self-sufficiency were significant predictors of economic empowerment. By focusing this research on abused women, it is our intention to raise awareness about the importance of financial literacy curricula with advocates, policy-makers and researchers, so more focus can be given to economically empowering IPV survivors.


Economic empowerment Financial literacy Intimate partner violence 



This project was supported by The Allstate Foundation, Economics Against Abuse Program. Points of view in this document are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of The Allstate Foundation. The authors would also like to acknowledge our collaboration with Rene Renick and Kim Pentico from the National Network to End Domestic Violence and their partnership with The Allstate Foundation in creating and implementing this financial literacy curriculum.


  1. Adams, A. E., Sullivan, C. M., Bybee, D., & Greeson, M. R. (2008). Development of the scale of economic abuse. Violence Against Women, 14(5), 563–588. doi: 10.1177/1077801208315529.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Administrative Office of the US Courts (2011). Bankruptcy filings. In A. Office (Ed.). Washington.
  3. Bandura, A. (1982). Self-efficacy mechanism in human agency. American Psychologist, 37(2), 122–147. doi: 10.1037/0003-066X.37.2.122.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Beverly, S. G., & Burkhaiter, E. K. (2005). Improving the financial literacy and practices of youths. Children and Schools, 27(2), 121–124. doi: 10.1093/cs/27.2.121.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bornstein, R. F. (2006). The complex relationship between dependency and domestic violence. American Psychologist, 61(6), 595–606. doi: 10.1093/cs/27.2.121.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Braunstein, S., & Welch, C. (2002). Financial literacy: An overview of practice, research, and policy. Federal Reserve Bulletin, 88(11), 445–457.Google Scholar
  7. Bucks, B. K., Kennickell, A. B., Mach, T. L., & Moore, K. B. (2009). Changes in U.S. Family Finances from 2004 to 2007: Evidence from the Survey of Consumer Finances. Federal Reserve Bulletin, 95, A1–A56.Google Scholar
  8. Bucks, B. K., Kennickell, A. B., & Moore, K. B. (2006). Recent changes in U.S. family finances: Evidence from the 2001 and 2004 Survey of Consumer Finances. Federal Reserve Bulletin, 92, A1–A38.Google Scholar
  9. Danes, S. M., Huddleston-Casas, C., & Boyce, L. (1999). Financial planning curriculum for teens: Impact evaluation. Financial Counseling and Planning, 10(1), 25–37.Google Scholar
  10. DeVaney, S. A., Gorham, E. E., Bechman, J. C., & Haldeman, V. A. (1996). Cash flow management and credit use: Effect of a financial information program. Financial Counseling and Planning, 7, 71–79.Google Scholar
  11. Engelbrecht, L. (2008). Economic literacy and the war on poverty: A social work challenge? International Journal of Social Welfare, 17(2), 166–173. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-2397.2007.00544.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Fawole, O. I. (2008). Economic violence to women and girls: Is it receiving the necessary attention? Trauma, Violence and Abuse, 9(3), 167–177. doi: 10.1177/1524838008319255.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Florian, V., & Elad, D. (1998). The impact of mothers’ sense of empowerment on the metabolic control of their children with juvenile diabetes. Journal of Pediatric Psychology, 23(4), 239–247. doi: 10.1093/jpepsy/23.4.239.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. GAO. (2004). Highlights of a GAO forum: The Federal Government’s Role in Improving Financial Literacy. Washington, DC: United States Government Accounting Office.Google Scholar
  15. Gowdy, E. A., & Pearlmutter, S. (1993). Economic self-sufficiency: It’s not just money. Affilia, 8(4), 368–387. doi: 10.1177/088610999300800402.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Gudmunson, C. G., & Danes, S. M. (2011). Family financial socialization: Theory and critical review. Journal of Family and Economic Issues, 32, 644–667. doi: 10.1007/s10834-011-9275-y.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Gutter, M., & Copur, Z. (2011). Financial behaviors and financial well-being of college students: Evidence from a national survey. Journal of Family and Economic Issues, 32, 699–714. doi: 10.1007/s10834-011-9255-2.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Hilgert, M. A., Hogarth, J. M., & Beverly, S. G. (2003). Household financial management: The connection between knowledge and behavior. Federal Reserve Bulletin, 89(7), 309–322.Google Scholar
  19. Hopley, V. (2003). Financial education: What is it and what makes it so important?. Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, 1–12.Google Scholar
  20. Itzhaky, H., & Porat, A. B. (2005). Battered women in shelters: Internal resources, well-being, and integration. Affilia, 20(1), 39–51. doi: 10.1177/0886109904272117.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Johnson, E., & Sherraden, M. S. (2007). From financial literacy to financial capability among youth. Journal of Sociology and Social Welfare, 34(3), 119–146.Google Scholar
  22. Joo, S. H., & Grable, J. E. (2004). An exploratory framework of the determinants of financial satisfaction. Journal of Family and Economic Issues, 25(1), 25–50. doi: 10.1023/B:JEEI.0000016722.37994.9f.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Kasturirangan, A. (2008). Empowerment and programs designed to address domestic violence. Violence Against Women, 14(12), 1465–1475. doi: 10.1177/1077801208325188.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Kim, J. C., Watts, C. H., Hargreaves, J. R., Ndhlovu, L. X., Phetla, G., Morison, L. A., et al. (2007). Understanding the impact of a microfinance-based intervention on women’s empowerment and the reduction of intimate partner violence in South Africa. American Journal of Public Health, 97(10), 1794–1802. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2006.095521.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Koren, P. E., DeChillo, N., & Friesen, B. J. (1992). Measuring empowerment in families whose children have emotional disabilities: A brief questionnaire. Rehabilitation Psychology, 37(4), 305–321. doi: 10.1037/h0079106.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Malone, K., Stewart, S. D., Wilson, J., & Korsching, P. F. (2009). Perceptions of financial well-being among American women in diverse families. Journal of Family and Economic Issues, 31, 63–81. doi: 10.1007/s10834-009-9176-5.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Perry, V. G., & Morris, M. D. (2005). Who is in control? The role of self-perception, knowledge, and income in explaining consumer financial behavior. Journal of Consumer Affairs, 39(2), 299–313. doi: 10.1111/j.1745-6606.2005.00016.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Plummer, S. B. (2007). Victims’ perspectives on the process of seeking a protective order: Predictors of perceived empowerment.Google Scholar
  29. Postmus, J. L. (2010). Economic empowerment of domestic violence survivors.Google Scholar
  30. Postmus, J. L., Plummer, S., McMahon, S., & Murshid, N. (2012). Understanding economic abuse in the lives of survivors. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 27, 411–430. doi: 10.1177/0886260511421669.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Sanders, C. K., & Schnabel, M. (2006). Organizing for economic empowerment of battered women: Women’s savings accounts. Journal of Community Practice, 14(3), 47–68.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Schmidt, L., & Sevak, P. (2006). Gender, marriage, and asset accumulation in the United States. Feminist Economics, 12(1–2), 139–166. doi: 10.1080/13545700500508445.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Schramm, D. G., & Harris, V. W. (2011). Marital quality and income: An examination of the influence of government assistance. Journal of Family and Economic Issues, 32, 437–448. doi: 10.1007/s10834-010-9212-5.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Servon, L. J., & Kaestner, R. (2008). Consumer financial literacy and the impact of online banking on the financial behavior of lower-income bank customers. Journal of Consumer Affairs, 42(2), 271–305. doi: 10.1111/j.1745-6606.2008.00108.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Shepard, M., & Campbell, J. A. (1992). The abusive behavior inventory: A measure of psychological and physical abuse. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 7(3), 291–305. doi: 10.1177/088626092007003001.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Tamborini, C. R., Iams, H. M., & Reznik, G. L. (2011). Women’s earnings before and after marital dissolution: Evidence from longitudinal earnings records matched to survey data. Journal of Family and Economic Issues,. doi: 10.1007/s10834-011-9264-1.Google Scholar
  37. Turner, S. F., & Shapiro, C. H. (1986). Battered women: Mourning the death of a relationship. Social Work, 31, 372–376.Google Scholar
  38. Vitt, L. A., Anderson, C., Kent, J., Lyter, D. M., Siegenthaler, J. K., & Ward, J. (2000). Personal finance and the rush to competence: Personal financial literacy in the U.S. The Fannie Mae Foundation.Google Scholar
  39. Walsh, T., & Lord, B. (2004). Client satisfaction and empowerment through social work intervention. Social Work in Health Care, 38(4), 37–56. doi: 10.1300/J010v38n04_03.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Washington, E. (2006). The impact of banking and fringe banking regulation on the number of unbanked Americans. The Journal of Human Resources, 41(1), 106–137. doi: 10.3368/jhr.XLI.1.106.Google Scholar
  41. Weaver, T. L., Sanders, C. K., Campbell, C. L., & Schnabel, M. (2009). Development and preliminary psychometric evaluation of the Domestic Violence–Related Financial Issues Scale (DV-FI). Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 24(4), 569–585.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Zhan, M., Anderson, S. G., & Scott, J. (2006). Financial knowledge of the low-income population: Effects of a financial education program. Journal of Sociology and Social Welfare, 33(1), 53–74.Google Scholar
  43. Zorza, J. (1991). Woman battering: A major cause of homelessness. Clearinghouse Review, 25, 421–429.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Judy L. Postmus
    • 1
    Email author
  • Sara-Beth Plummer
    • 1
  • Sarah McMahon
    • 1
  • Karen A. Zurlo
    • 1
  1. 1.Center on Violence Against Women & Children, School of Social WorkRutgers UniversityNew BrunswickUSA

Personalised recommendations