How Money Is Used As a Tool of Domestic Violence and How Survivors Can Get Help Now

This week, Maggie sits down with Kim Pentico, who is the Director of Economic Justice at the National Network to End Domestic Violence. In this episode, they dig into what domestic violence is, and how it can show up, and how financial abuse is used as a tool of control within domestic violence.

In this episode, Kim Pentico defines domestic violence and elaborates on how money is used as a tool of abuse within abusive relationships. She also expands on what steps survivors can take to remove themselves from abusive relationships, and how folks can support survivors.

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Kim Pentico is the Director of Economic Justice at the National Network to End Domestic Violence. Kim has been working with and on behalf of survivors of sexual and domestic violence since 1990. She first spent over seven years working for a local domestic violence program in Kansas and another seven years at the Kansas Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence. She has also worked for the STOP Technical Assistance Project in Washington, DC. Kim works to ensure and enhance survivor access to economic justice and long-term safety.

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The theme music is called Escaping Light by Aaron Sprinkle. The podcast artwork design is by Maggie’s dear husband, Dan Rader.


Maggie Germano 0:07
Thanks for listening to the money circle Podcast. I am your host, Maggie Germano and I’m a financial coach for women. I’m passionate about helping women improve their relationship with money so that they can take better control of their futures. Part of that journey is making personal finance education more accessible and less judgmental, which is why this podcast exists. Each week we’ll discuss a new financial topic to help you explore how you can make a difference in your own financial life or in society as a whole. If you’re interested in diving deeper into issues like income inequality, debt or money, shame, check out my new money circle community. In this safe feminist space women gathered to talk about money without fear of being judged or shamed. We will break down shame and build community and safety for everyone so that you can find the support you need to gain control over your finances. Visit circle to learn more and to join the community today. I can’t wait to see you there.

Hey there. Before I get started, I wanted to jump in and give you all a content warning for this week’s episode. In honor of October, which is Domestic Violence Awareness Month this episode focuses on domestic violence and in particular, how financial abuse fits into domestic violence. If this subject matter is triggering or upsetting for you, please feel free to skip this week’s episode.

Hey there and thanks for listening. I’m your host Maggie Germano. And this week, I’m chatting with Kim pentico, who is the director of economic justice at the national network to End Domestic Violence. In this episode, we dig into what domestic violence is, and how it can show up in your life, and how financial abuse is used as a tool of control within domestic violence systems. If you are or have been a victim of domestic violence, or if you want to learn how you can support survivors in your own life and across the country, this episode is for you. Thanks for listening.

Okay, welcome, Kim, thanks so much for being here today. Thanks for having me. So why don’t you start off by just telling us a little bit about who you are and what you do.

Kim Pentico 2:36
My name is Kim Petico, and I work for the National Network to End Domestic Violence. I work on the economic justice team. So I specifically look at the intersection of domestic violence and economic justice and how finances and access to those things impact survivor safety.

Maggie Germano 2:52
That’s great. And how did you find yourself in this line of work?

Kim Pentico 2:57
Um, you know, it’s, I’ve been doing it for a long time, I’ve been doing it now 30 years, which is hard to believe. And so I started I was in college, I knew I wanted to be a social worker. And I need to do volunteer work locally, for a certain number of hours. And some an advocate from the local domestic violence shelter came in and talked about what they do there. And it was really intriguing to me, I hadn’t honestly thought about that before, I just thought with your social worker kids and that kind of thing. And then at the same time, was also taken women’s studies course. And it was sort of like two worlds collided. And I saw the mechanisms in which this all sort of happens, right? And and it all clicked, and it became my life’s work from that point forward.

Maggie Germano 3:45
Wow. So it was kind of lucky for you that you were you found that volunteer opportunity and then found that connection that really made sense to you.

Kim Pentico 3:54
Yeah, it’s it’s just always been the right fit. For me doing this work. is one of those things that days are hard days are long spares. So when you’re doing direct services, which I admittedly have not done for a long time, but when I was doing direct services, they’re really tough, tough days. But it’s the most gratifying thing I can ever imagine being part of,

Maggie Germano 4:17
Oh, I can imagine I’m sure you’re able to see the direct impact of the work that you’re doing, either, you know, with doing direct service, what you’ve done in the past, but also with the work that you do your organization now.

Kim Pentico 4:30
Yeah, tremendously lucky. And I think part of what I do now, I see the work I do is helping the advocates that are doing the frontline work, giving them tools, expanding their capacity to do the work, both with survivors but also for themselves. You know, when you think about who is sort of marginalized in our in our communities, societies, survived domestic violence advocates are some of the most overworked and underpaid folks out there. Right. They work really Hard long hours, we have advocates that qualify for public assistance working full time, you know, so they’re very poorly paid, because we don’t particularly value the work they do as a society. Right. And so I see part of what I do is helping to give them some tools and making the most of the small resources they have really putting them trying to put them in a position of power with with the little bit that they have.

Maggie Germano 5:24
I love that I love that you’re combining your work with, you know, the work you’re doing on the ground as an organization, but also with the advocates themselves. Because Yeah, like you said, a lot of mission driven folks are not well paid, they have to figure out how to get by and survive on the income that they’re making. And that can be really tough. So I’m glad to hear that that’s something that you put in the forefront of your work as well.

Kim Pentico 5:51
I love it. I love working with advocates, so then their ad then they turn around and advocate for themselves to which is great. So we’re doing micro advocacy and macro advocacy, which is fantastic.

Maggie Germano 6:00
That is great. So October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, which is one of the reasons I reached out to you to have you on. And so what are some of the top things that you wish folks understood about domestic violence, generally?

Kim Pentico 6:16
Yeah, I think it’s so common, I think people don’t recognize how common it is one in three women, one in four men will experience some form of rape, sexual violence, physical violence, stalking, by a current or former intimate partner and their lifetime. So the statistics are high. I think also wanting people to be able to step back and think critically about what this means. So we have what we call an advocates definition of domestic violence, which is a pattern of course of behavior used to intimidate and threaten a current or former partner. So you know, if you think about an advocates definition, domestic violence may or may not always be a legal definition of domestic violence. So those are not always the exact same thing. Sometimes they are, sometimes they’re not. You know, if I’ve had many survivors say, you know, I got the look. And I knew the night was gonna be bad, because I got that look, and I knew not gonna. So that looks not illegal. But it is incredibly effective, right? To control behavior, to intimidate, to threaten. It is incredibly effective, but non illegal act, but we would consider that a form of domestic violence in the advocacy field, because it is terribly effective of controlling the other partners behavior, because what that look means is, you’re going to get hurt later, potentially, if you don’t do as I say. So that’s a bit of the challenge. We’re asking people to be willing to have critical thought about it that is sometimes really uncomfortable about that much of this is gender based violence. Right. So I, you know, women do use illegal violence, there’s no doubt about it. And it’s not okay, that that use of illegal violence, it is not always an advocates definition of domestic violence, right. So that’s the hard part that we people should be held accountable for their violence, always legally. But also understanding that there’s a pattern sometimes that a pattern when we talk about domestic violence is a pattern of course, behavior, which may or may not always exist.

Maggie Germano 8:17
That makes a lot of sense to me. And I’m sure that that’s something a lot of people haven’t really thought about before. Because I mean, I know, for myself, I’ve definitely heard of like people, you know, going to the police to get support, but then you know, whatever behavior is already happening isn’t technically illegal. So there’s nothing that they can do. But they know, as an individual that it might and will lead to something worse. Do you as an organization, do you as part of your work trying to work with legislators and law enforcement to kind of broaden that definition so that there is more support and help in those scenarios?

Kim Pentico 8:58
Yes, always, we’re always doing that work. So just a little bit about how the national network is set up, which may help your listeners understand the systems a little bit better. So most of you who are listening, likely have a local domestic violence program that serves your community. Right. So they do hotline work, probably they take calls melonite they work serve people in the middle of the day and take them to appointments and all that good stuff and do court accompaniment and, and resource and referrals. So that local domestic violence program or sexual assault program is sometimes combined is its own private, not for profit. That local program, though, is more than likely a member to at state domestic violence coalition. So that’s a membership organization. Every state has one federally recognized domestic violence coalition. And that coalition functions sort of in two ways. It provides training and technical assistance back to the local program saying this is sort of like the greatest latest thing and service provision, but they also do public policy work on their behalf. So they work with the state legislature to improve laws to improve and increase funding streams. Thanks That that coalition is a member to the National Network, which is what I do. We also function very similarly, I provide training and technical assistance to our membership programs and their programs. And then we have a public policy department as well, that works with federal legislation.

Maggie Germano 10:16
That’s great. So it’s like across the board working on on the ground with the advocates with the survivors that need support, and working more at that national level doing trainings and also working with the lawmakers.

Kim Pentico 10:30
Right? It always means it also means there’s always something to be done, right. So your voice matters, we have a policy alert that you can sign up for, and you can find out what’s going on congressionally that needs people to call in and say, Hey, this is important, my community, my neighbors have dealing with this, or my, my partner is in law enforcement, and he needs more protection, or she needs more protection. So please, you know, implement these things, or whatever that looks like. There’s always opportunity for your voice to be heard, as well as donate your time and your money at your local programs.

Maggie Germano 11:01
That’s great. Thank you. And we’ll definitely talk more about that at the end to have like how folks can get involved. So you mentioned that you’re in the economic justice team. And something that I’ve written about and talked about in the past is financial abuse, obviously, the intersection with money? And how, like you said, This is often gender based as well. That’s something that is top of mind for me often. So can you talk a little bit about how or what financial abuse is, and how that ties into domestic violence generally?

Kim Pentico 11:36
Yeah, so I think it’s so it’s important to know that financial abuse is a form or a tactic of domestic violence, it is not domestic violence, and financial abuse, it is a form of it. So many folks who do this work are familiar with the power and control wheel, which is, you know, at the center of the core of, of domestic brands is power and control. And then there’s these like eight spokes around that, that hold that all together. And there’s different tactics, categories, and one of those entire spokes is financial abuse. But there’s other things like, you know, use of patriarchy, or intimidation, and threats, or use of kids and things like that. So all those are the other things that support it. And then, and then outside of that is threats of physical sexual violence. So that kind of holds it all in. So it is an entire spoke of the power and control wheel is financial abuse, and it can run the gamut. It’s so important to understand that 99% of all survivors report some form of financial abuse. So it is insidious, you can’t talk about domestic violence without talking about financial abuse and vice versa. So it can be anything from going into my purse and still in my wallet, and still my cash, to forcing me to lie on legal documents, to draining my savings account, transferring money out, taking out a line of credit in my name that I’m unaware of sabotaging me by blackening my eye are keeping me up all night. So I can’t go to my job interview the next day, calling me and showing up at my workplace. So I get fired, showing up drunk to watch the children, so I can’t go to work or go to school, you know, those kinds of ripple effects. I had a survivor that she had a two year contract on her cell phone, and he broke the smartphone that got turned into collections. That collections is what kept her from getting safe, affordable housing two years later. So that ripple effect was seemed like a really small thing, smash your cell phone, you know, not a big deal. But that went to credit, you know, got turned into credit reporting. And so that has a huge impact. We’re so I think angry at survivors for not leaving, we just don’t get it just leave if it’s hurting you leave and not understanding to where we’re not creating the safety nets for we’re not ready to embrace her children. So you know, we’re not getting a whole lot of options when housing weightless are three and five years long. Where does she go?

Maggie Germano 13:59
Right? If there isn’t family support, or friends or other folks out there who can take you in safely? And like you said, there isn’t affordable housing or safe housing separate from the abuser? Yeah, where are they supposed to go? Especially if their kids in the picture, you have to think about your kids also having somewhere to live.

Kim Pentico 14:19
Right. And I think sometimes those things are available, but they’re available in the short term. You know, this is this takes years. I mean, you know, we know that leaving often takes multiple times. And it is a long process for many, many reasons, right? Because the finances don’t exist, because we love them because kids because we don’t celebrate, you know, things that we should. So it’s a challenge. So it’s not just a one time event leaving is a process. And so it’s important understand that it’s not just taking somebody in for a couple of days. That is that it’s over and over again, potentially and it’s can take months and years.

Maggie Germano 14:54
Right And from what I understand it’s also one of the more dangerous times in between juggling a woman’s life of leaving their abuser and the abuse escalating at that time,

Kim Pentico 15:06
lethality increases by seven times when a survivor of domestic violence makes an act of independence, like leaving, like telling a friend like squirreling away a savings account that he doesn’t know about, he discovers it. So that because what we know is at the core of domestic violence is power and control anything that’s done to threaten the other partners power and control within the relationship. Increased lethality, we have a number of states that do these lethality assessments that examine whenever a victim of domestic violence is murdered. And they go back and figure out where the system failed this, this this victim, and oftentimes we find that they’ve just found a protection order, or they’ve made some very clear act of of independence like leaving. And that actually can do be a direct line to having her having been murdered.

Maggie Germano 15:55
So and, and you mentioned this, like, people get very frustrated as survivors for not leaving for like, Oh, just file a protection order, just call the police just do this, just do that. And you know, when I’ve written about financial abuse, that’s something I struggle with a little bit of like saying, like, what steps they can kind of take, because I understand there are major safety issues there, too. And I try to make that very clear when I’m writing like, you know, do what you can. But But your safety is paramount, obviously. And so what kind of guidance or resources or advice do you give to survivors as they’re trying to start taking some of those steps in order to try their best to stay safe?

Kim Pentico 16:39
Yeah. Well, the first thing is I listened to her and she tells me what she needs. And that’s really hard as to help artists, the show up and say, I don’t have all the answers, right, I need you to tell me what your life looks like. And you tell me what’s going to be safe. Because what may be counterintuitive to us is that sometimes staying but navigating safety within staying, maybe at least now the safest, right? So accepting that. And then being a part of that safety plan with her staying potentially, I would say if at all possible to try to squirrel away, start squaring away a little bit of money here and there. It can be a couple bucks, it could be pocket change, whatever that looks like. And again, she has to tell us what’s going to be the safest. For some survivors, they can, you know, squirrel away, you know, 20 bucks cash here and there. And no one will know. For others, you know, they’re sent to the grocery store with, you know, 40 bucks cash, and they need to come home with a receipt that matches and change that matches. And so you got to be really strategic about how we do safety planning and start squirreling away money in those kinds of scenarios. So it’s up to her to tell us what that looks like. Because it’s different for everybody. So chart scrolling the way putting any extra cash in a separate account, if at all possible at a whole different bank, if at all possible. Use of things like Venmo and PayPal are really we’re hearing from survivors can be helpful because they can store money in that that app. And it doesn’t show up in an account. So being really creative about how you’re storing money. We’ve had survivors, roll dollar bills and high dollar bills up in the bottom of curtain hymns, in the soles of your shoes in use tampon applicators, and putting it back in the paper, you know, just be super creative into the helpers in their life, be willing to be a part of that plant. And she said I need to can you just hold us 20 bucks for me that be willing to do that?

Maggie Germano 18:30
That’s really Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. Because like you were saying the individual survivor is the one who understands their circumstances the best and someone coming in on the outside who has no true understanding of what they’re going through and what the abuser is like and what the circumstances are like. They can just give kind of basic advice. But if the survivor is like, that’s not going to work for me, then they probably are again, going to feel like they can’t get the help that they need. Right.

Kim Pentico 18:59
Yeah, I think the best thing we can do as people who care in other people’s lives, is just say, A, I’m scared for you. And I’m worried about you. I love you. And I want to be helpful in any way I can you tell me what that looks like and be willing to hear what that is and be willing to act?

Maggie Germano 19:18
Yeah, no, I that’s really good advice. Because I think that I mean, another thing that we hear with domestic violence is that it can be very isolating, and the abuser can be very good at isolating the survivor from their support network. And it can it can feel like there’s no one to reach out to for help because maybe you haven’t spoken to people in a while or maybe you know, someone on the outside feels like I think something might be going on. But I don’t want to button and I don’t want to you know, to say anything because we haven’t talked in a while but so it sounds like Do what you can if you’re seeing something if you want to show your support,

Kim Pentico 19:57
you should be speaking out. Use of isolation is an entire spoke of the power control wheel. And it is incredibly effective. If I cut her off from her family that cut her off from her friend, you know, like things like sabotaging her showing up to meet with her friends over and over again, you know that friends get tired of that. And so they start cutting off ties to understand that she may not have always had control over that. And that was really a part of his tactics, huh?

Maggie Germano 20:23
Yeah, that’s, that’s something I hadn’t really thought about before, too. That’s important to keep in mind. So you started touching on some of the ways that the financial abuse tactic can affect women, you mentioned the credit score issue, you mentioned not being able to go to work. Can you talk a little bit more about other other long term effects the financial abuse approach can have on survivors and on their financial security on their career, and just, you know, in the moment, but also in the future?

Kim Pentico 20:54
Yeah, I think like, sabotaging employment is a great example. You know, not allowing them to work. So they have this huge gap in employment, or sabotaging work. So they’re afraid to go back to work because he keeps showing up, or he’s threatened to hurt somebody there. I think also employers can get really scared, you know, it may or may not be safe for a survivor to even disclose to their employer. Depending on what that employers policies are around it, they may just say, No, this is scary. So I’m gonna let you go. And then and then what? So it’s important for those of us who care to really examine if we have control over things like our internal policies in our workplace around, what do we do, if somebody discloses domestic violence? How do we embrace her and find out what we can do to be a part of her safety planning, and so that can have a huge impact. So, so gaps in employment or sporadic employment, maybe long term impact of that, you know, legal issues, we’ve often heard from survivors that I was forced to deal I was forced to buy, I was forced to steal. You know, I knew if I got him high for the night, he was less likely to hurt me and the kids. So she wouldn’t scored, you know, and got arrested or wrote bad checks back when people wrote checks, or overuse a line of credit, whatever that is, and then sabotage that in the long term. And so it just, I think, as a DB movement, we used to think of talking about money finding some sort of like, nice when you had time, you know, icing on the cake, that sort of very ancillary thing that was, you know, down the road, we talked about it, but it is really we have survivors have been saying, for a long time, this is what I need up front. This is what keeps me stuck here. This is what makes me return, I need to talk about this upfront. And it’s not a bonus thing, it is a core to what I need to talk about. You know, I often give the example that if my partner became abusive to me tonight, and I had to flee, I live a very middle class life, right? So I’m going to get my gassed up car, I’m going to tap into a credit card that I have access to, I’m going to get a hotel room for that I could even book a flight if I needed to, and in fly across the country if I needed to, right, so I could tap into that and and then when my partner calls and begs me to come home, that’s going to be a much different negotiation than if I’m living with my kids in the car, right? Or I’m doubled up with my sister, or I’m, you know, whatever, I’m living in a really scary hotel, and I only have enough money for one more night. So that that just that negotiation of my safety is going to be different when I have that imbalance of resources. And additionally, even as a middle class woman, if I do that fleeing over and over again, I’m going to start dropping my socioeconomic status. So what was middle class, I’m now lower socioeconomic class, because I’ve been using resources to get and stay safe. So it has such a ripple effect, where there was a recent thing that a fantastic organization, sister organization of ours, called free from did and they just gave cash grants to survivors just gave them money, right, because they said they needed it. And that was going to keep them from further violence, it was going to keep them from plummeting into deeper poverty. And just on average, about $750 in cash assistance made the difference for many survivors, the small amount $750. And so this really is what what survivors need. It’s not a bonus, it is core.

Maggie Germano 24:25
Right. So again, it’s that theme of listening to survivors and asking them what they need and then giving them what they need.

Kim Pentico 24:33
And trusting them right up like actual adult people.

Maggie Germano 24:37
Yeah, right. Go figure. This and, and like you said, $750 like to some people can change their whole lives, right? It sounds like but for other people that’s like a drop in the bucket.

Kim Pentico 24:49
It’s hard to imagine that that amount of money could make the make a pivotal difference in somebody’s life safety. Safety, not just like would help for now but would actually be pushing them over the top instead of letting them fall off a cliff.

Maggie Germano 25:03
Right? Yeah, that’s huge. And and you said that organization it’s called free from?

Kim Pentico 25:08
Yep. And they’re actually I think the crowdsourcing right now we’re doing some fundraising to get some additional funds cuz it was so successful, and, and made such a difference in folks lives.

Maggie Germano 25:16
And I will definitely share their information with their fundraising and the work that they do in the show nastic. Well, and so you mentioned with employers, so how if someone is being abused, and their abuser is showing up at their workplace, or harassing them over the phone, or whatever is going on there. And someone might think the solution is just to let that person go, which then puts them into a worse financial situation? Do you give guidance to employers or just general guidance of how those employers can kind of support people who are going through those sorts of things?

Kim Pentico 25:53
there are some really good resources out there. That’s not one of the things that we specialize in. But there’s lots of great organizations that do that work. Futures Without Violence has done some fantastic work, IWPR, independent women’s research project has done some research on employment that are policies that are good for for women and survivors. So there’s some really great resources out there. In general, it comes back to ask, What do you need? What are you doing currently to navigate your safety? And what can we do to be a part of that plan? And, and implement that? It may mean, adjusting work schedule may mean making sure to get somebody to walk her in or out, it may be taking off the phones occasionally? Because that’s not safe. But just asking, What do you need? And how can we be part of it, she’s already navigating her safety every day, it is up to the rest of us to catch up with her tactics and what she’s doing.

Maggie Germano 26:44
Yeah, that’s really good advice. I appreciate that. And you touched on the ways of things that people can do to try to be as safe as possible as they’re kind of planning to leave. Do you have other pieces of advice for folks who are kind of recognizing maybe they didn’t actually realize some of the financial abuse that was going on within their relationship, and they’re kind of starting to realize patterns that are going on? Do you have advice for steps they can start taking to move forward?

Kim Pentico 27:15
Listen to your gut, you know, it’s telling you something, listen to it, honor what it’s telling you. And then so that’s, that’s the internal stuff, I want you to do secondary other than starting to squirrel away some money here and there, and putting into a separate account or separate space is to start taking pictures and keeping track of documentation. When the check stub comes in, take a picture of it. There’s lots of there’s there’s docu safe, software out there and apps that you can use to keep documents in safely pictures. But start keeping photographs of that car insurance information, retirement account information, if any property is owned jointly, or by the partner take pictures of anything like that. Even things like you know, we’ve had survivors, partners, get rid of assets, quickly to diminish their assets. So they like sell something to $1 dollar to a family member whenever take pictures of those things that may go quickly and fast. You can have your kid stand next to them and say take you know, let’s take a picture of you Next, a daddy’s Harley or whatever, you know. So just start documenting those things, you may never need it, you may never need to use it, but that you’ll have it. And it may be really helpful. I would also say that if somebody is leaving getting ready to leave and or has recently left, if you have access to any of the jointly held accounts to consider taking at least half half of any cash assets. And if you’re taking the kiddos you have kiddos with you to take closer to three fourths of those. That is legally you’re you’re able to do that it was a jointly held account, you’re leaving something behind, you’re not draining the entire account, you will need to account for how those funds were spent, you know, if you paid school fees, or groceries or insurance or whatever, you know, you need to you need to account for it that is reasonable as it was a jointly held account, but you’re using it to take care of the needs of you and your family, which is also reasonable.

Maggie Germano 29:09
Yeah, no, that’s really great advice. And I think the documentation piece is really important. So you can kind of prove what’s yours, what isn’t, as well as getting you know some of those shared assets. So that again, you’re not left in a situation where you can’t in any way support yourself and any kids that are involved and you have to go back.

And what are some of those resources or either what your organization’s doing or other you know, sister organizations that you have that can help folks who are trying to leave or have left an abusive relationship?

Kim Pentico 29:45
Well, first and foremost, wanna make sure they has the hotline number. So that’s 1-800- 799-SAFE. You can also go to the website, they’ve got great resources, and it’s called the That’s the National Domestic Violence Hotline. And that’s also for survivors, but also for Family members that are concerned, even people that want to get involved, they can go there, you can get local help from that hotline, or you can get national help from just a general hotline, they have multiple languages. So So when in doubt, call and get those resources. So it’s definitely start there. And the other place I want to direct folks to is that you know, your state domestic violence coalition, so every state has one domestic violence coalition, reach out to them, if you are interested in also knowing more about what’s going on legislatively in your state, that may be a great place to go go to our website, which is an E national network to End Domestic We are currently just wrapping up what we call our point in time. Count, so we every year, one day in September, we ask all the TV providers all the shelters to tell us who you served in one 24 hour period, and who were you unable to serve, because you did not have the resources to do it. So we’re currently wrapping up that counts, you can get last year’s count on that, showing that we had thousands of unmet needs and a 24 hour period last year. So those are great resources, we also have at our website, called Women’s And it’s a great place for survivors and advocates and allies to go and ask legal questions. And it is answered by attorneys in plain spoken English. And it is answered in Spanish and in English. So it’s a great resource for survivors who want to know, you know, what do I need to do to get a protection order? Or what kind of assets Am I eligible for my state. And so we really encourage folks to go check out that website. Additionally, our economic justice project is also has information there. So we have a curriculum that we co authored with the Allstate Foundation, and anybody can download that curriculum for free. It is a very traditional financial literacy curriculum in many ways. It’s talking about budgeting and credit, and, you know, banking and all that good stuff. But module one is really what sets us apart in that it is all about what is financial safety planning, and how to do how to how to plan around finances. And so then that’s woven throughout the rest of it, so folks can go there and get that. The other thing that we have is what we call the independence project. And this is a credit building, no fee, no interest loan program for survivors is $100 loan given to survivors, they pay back $10 a month for 10 months. And every month she makes her payment report three credit bureaus, increasing your credit score over time. And on average, we see your credit scores go up by 30 plus points at the end of the loan period. And we see survivors who come in credit invisible, meaning they have no credit history, leave the program with a 630 plus credit score, which is really pretty remarkable for $100. What a difference it can make. So and we love to see more support for that. It’s a project, we’re always looking for more folks to get more folks to get involved in.

Maggie Germano 32:53
That’s fantastic. And again, I will share that in the show notes as well. Because it like you said it’s amazing the difference small amounts of money can make on people’s lives.

Kim Pentico 33:05
Just need to push they just need a little bit of a little lift up oftentimes.

Maggie Germano 33:09
Yeah, exactly. And and so aside from supporting some of these initiatives that you just mentioned, what can listeners do to support survivors of domestic violence, and also the organizations that are doing that support on the ground?

Kim Pentico 33:27
Well, I think it goes back to listening, just you know, if you have a hunch that somebody you love or care about or you know, is not safe, just to say I worry about you, I’m here, let me know what you need from me, you know, and then reach out to your local domestic violence program, ask if there’s something you can do to help them. Many programs are really struggling right now, as you can imagine, the impact of COVID has been deep and quick. We have had to close some shelters down due to COVID, whether they have a lack of staff because they’re sick, or they’ve got an outbreak within shelter, they are really struggling financially, many of these local domestic violence program, they were already running on shoestring budgets, you know, they were already and never had enough to begin with. And this is just made it nearly impossible. Um, so they’re really struggling in the future does not look great. Many folks who contributed historically in the past, whether it be private companies, foundations, or individuals are now going to put their energy towards COVID relief, which makes a lot of sense, but we’re going to see these essential services that were already struggling, really feel the impact of that. And I suspect we’ll see a shift in federal funding priorities as well, which, again, makes a lot of sense. But it is one of these things where we see that the impact of covid affected those who were already living in poverty, those who already had racial disparities, those were already marginalized for multiple reasons, further, deeply impacted by COVID. And domestic violence is no different.

Maggie Germano 34:53
Right? It’s not just some separate, isolated thing. It’s all piling on top of each other.

Kim Pentico 34:58
Yep, yep, absolutely.

Maggie Germano 35:00
And I know that I’ve heard that there are folks who are experiencing increased amounts of domestic violence, child abuse, because everyone’s at home or people are unemployed or there’s more financial stress. And so it’s it’s not becoming less important of an issue right now,

Kim Pentico 35:17
spotlight, it’s spotlit how bad it is and why it’s it’s worse for these folks. Right. We’ve heard that Copa de la also being used by abusers. So if she is an essential worker, and then she’s fought, she needs to go work and can’t and has to do it outside of the home potentially works at the grocery store, whatever that is, then the abusive partner is using that to then say, then I get custody of the kids because you’re exposing them, or we’re hearing from survivors that they’d never got access to their relief check, because they were, excuse me together when they last filed taxes, and or at the same address, and her cheque either went to that old address, and he kept it or it went to an account that they held together. But there was no good mechanism that survivors were given ahead of time to get those check funds sent somewhere else. So many of them did never saw not only their relief, but the really for their kids.

Maggie Germano 36:10
Wow, that was another thing that I wouldn’t have thought of. But it makes sense now that you describe it?

Kim Pentico 36:15
Well, I think it’s also for me, it’s another glaring example of who’s at the table where and when these policy decisions are being made. And I reflected, or the other folks that I serve reflected at that table to bring these issues up. What about survivors of domestic violence? What about communities of color? What about LGBTQ, you know that when we’re not represented where decisions are being made, then the decisions that are being made are not going to represent me, and they’re not going to serve me well.

Maggie Germano 36:42
Right, and so many people end up falling through the cracks in that way.

Kim Pentico 36:45
Yep. And their voices aren’t heard or cared about.

Maggie Germano 36:48
Right? That’s very frustrating.

Kim Pentico 36:52
Sorry, don’t come to me. No good news. No. I mean, we are doing some really great stuff. You know, we have had, we have had a number of funders come forward with some some assistance that we hadn’t expected. You know, there have been some wonderful foundations and partners that have come forth, specifically around COVID and want to do some relief, the Allstate Foundation has given them well over half a million dollars really, very last minute to provide help. local programs provide peepee and shelter nights and hotels. And, you know, just it’s been remarkable in that way, and deeply needed.

Maggie Germano 37:26
That’s good to hear, too. And so is there anything else that we haven’t talked about or touched on that you want to make sure our listeners know about this topic?

Kim Pentico 37:35
Well, I just you know, it’s a reminder, it’s going on in your circles, whether you see it or not, or want to see it or recognize it is happening. There are people that you care and love who are not safe in their home. And saying things like if I’m if somebody hits me, I’m gone, I’m not gonna stick around for that. While I think we say it from a strength place, we will say you know how strong we are, and that we were strong people. So we wouldn’t, we wouldn’t get hurt on purpose, to understand that what that then says to me, if I’m the person being hurt, is that I’m not as smart as you, you’re, you’re better than I am. And that I also cannot and will not talk to you about it. Right? So it’s just really important that we just be really careful with our language, and be tender with each other, be kind with each other. And just listen to the people around us and what they need and be willing to provide it. So that’s it.

Maggie Germano 38:29
Yeah, that’s great advice. I love that. Thank you for that. And is there anything else that you haven’t already mentioned, that you are working on or that you know, other folks are working on that you’d like to promote to listeners.

Kim Pentico 38:41
And we also have a great project called Safety Net at the National Network to End Domestic Violence. And this is a project that looks at how technology is used by survivors, as well as misused by abusers. So it’s a great place to go, they’ve got an app that folks can use to download and save documentation there. And that can be used in court later on. So we’ve got lots of wonderful resources at National Network to End Domestic Violence and check that out. But you know, just just be present. Just remind people to be present, take care of yourself and those around you.

Maggie Germano 39:12
Great, thank you. And again, I’ll share that in the show notes. And how can folks follow the work that you’re doing and the work of your organization,

Kim Pentico 39:20
we’re on all the platforms, I’m not in charge of any of it, nor should I be according to my teenage children, but we’re on you know, we’re on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram, all those spaces are up, our websites kept up to date. So really encourage people to sign in to lean into this and get involved. This is not something that’s going on elsewhere and another community it’s going on in our community now and in your neighborhood. So just get involved. ask people what they need. Don’t underestimate the power of a check and what that can do to impact people’s lives and to change it as well as your time and energy.

Maggie Germano 39:57
Thank you. I appreciate that. And like you said, a little bit goes on. Long Way. So as as little as people are able to contribute, well make a difference for somebody out there.

Kim Pentico 40:06
Absolutely. And, you know, just a last minute reminder, I’ve been doing this work for a long time, I’ve actually become a mother since doing this work, and I now have teenage children, you know, and how this work has impacted me has changed. I see now that I’m creating a world that they will go into. And so it’s a reminder that everybody we serve is somebody else’s child. And it’s a privilege and to never forget that, that they belong to someone, and for some reason, they can’t go home. And that’s what these services are for.

Maggie Germano 40:39
Thank you. Thank you for that reminder. And thank you for taking the time today to share your wisdom and your information and the resources and just spreading the the knowledge of this issue and how it impacts people all around us whether we might know it or not.

Kim Pentico 40:56
Well, thanks, Maggie. I appreciate you taking this on. It means so much to us.

Maggie Germano 41:00
of course.

Thank you so much for listening to the money circle podcast this week. If you like the conversations we’re having here and you’d like to go even deeper. Join the new money circle community. In this safe intersectional feminist space. We will break down money shame and build community and safety for everyone so that you can find the support you need to gain control over your finances. Visit to learn more. And to join. If you’d like to get more connected with me, subscribe to my weekly newsletter at Maggie To learn more about my financial coaching services, my speaking and workshop offerings or just to read my blog, visit You can also follow me on instagram and twitter @MaggieGermano. I look forward to hearing from you. Bye bye.