Lack of transitional housing in Tampa Bay may make it harder to leave for those going through economic abuse

Between 94-99% of domestic abuse survivors also experience economic abuse
Posted at 6:17 PM, May 10, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-10 18:17:43-04

TAMPA, Fla. — Many domestic violence survivors say their partners control their money and how they spend it. Economic abuse affects most people who are victims of domestic violence, making it harder for them to escape.

ABC Action News In-depth reporter Anthony Hill is digging deeper into this topic and he found out how a lack of transitional housing in the Tampa Bay area may be making the situation worse.

You can’t see it and oftentimes it’s hard to identify. Economic abuse affects most people who are going through domestic violence.

“So, really it’s any time a person tries to take control or seize control over your financial position, even if it’s money that you earned,” said Kirk Ray Smith, president of Hope Villages of America in Pinellas County.

They provide emergency housing for families going through domestic violence in the Tampa Bay area.

Smith says, most of their survivors report not being able to escape because they didn’t have the financial means to do so, or their partner controlled their money. Smith says economic abuse happens way more than people even realize.

“If they were being physically abused or emotionally abused, economic abuse was a part of that," he said.

According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, between 94% and 99% of domestic abuse survivors also experience economic abuse. What’s worse is that many experts say there isn’t enough transitional housing for survivors in the Tampa Bay area, making it that much harder to escape.

“Even if you’re in the position where you can afford to pay, it’s hard to find a place that’s reasonable," said Smith.

In 2016, the federal government defunded Tampa Bay area agencies that provided transitional housing. However, The Spring of Tampa Bay is one organization that’s been able to continue providing housing at a subsidized rate.

“Our transitional housing program, Peace Village, is an opportunity for a survivor to have up to 12 to 18 months of safe and affordable housing,” said Mindy Murphy, president of the organization.

They take in 12 families and give them the resources they need to save money and work toward their goals, all of this free from economic abuse.

“We’ve had people graduate from peace village into owning their own homes. We’ve had people graduate with a chemical engineering degree a few years back,” said Murphy.

They depend on donations and community partnerships to fund the program.

“To help, you know, really make the apartment that that family is going to live in for the next year feel like their own," Murphy said.

If you or someone you know is affected by domestic violence, here are links to local resources.