Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal Announces Legislation to Protect Domestic Violence Survivors from Economic Abuse Signed into Law

New York, NY – Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal (D/WF-Manhattan) announced today that her legislation (A5347/S5915) to provide domestic violence survivors with resources to identify and overcome economic abuse was signed into law.

“Domestic violence is not limited to physical and verbal abuse, often abusers will perpetrate severe damage to survivors' finances, which will make it more difficult for them to move on with their lives," said Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal. “The signing of this law, during Domestic Violence Awareness Month, will provide survivors with the resources necessary to identify economic abuse and know where to turn to for help.”

The National Network to End Domestic Violence estimates that economic abuse is a factor in 99% of domestic violence cases. The abuse can take many forms, including controlling a partner’s finances, preventing a partner from working or limiting the purchases that a partner can make. Economic abuse often also involves coerced debt, whereby an abuser forces a partner to incur debts against their will, sometimes without their knowledge at all.

Economic abuse deprives survivors of financial independence, forcing them to be reliant on their partner for day-to-day expenses and making it more difficult to escape. If a survivor is able to leave, they often do so with limited financial resources and a damaged credit score, making it difficult for them to secure housing and rebuild their life.

“Leaving a domestic violence situation is difficult enough without the additional worry of being able to get by financially or determining if your credit has been destroyed,” said Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal. “Our laws must protect domestic violence survivors and ensure that help is made available to them at various touchpoints.”

Under the new law, the New York State Office For the Prevention of Domestic Violence must create informational materials on economic abuse that describe what it involves and its impact, how it can be prevented and steps that survivors can take to overcome the abuse. Such materials will be distributed to facilities survivors access, including domestic violence shelters, social service offices, police departments and childcare facilities. The law was sponsored in the state Senate by Senator Kristen Gonzalez.

Next session, Rosenthal will continue to advocate for her legislation (A1309A/S2278) to provide a right of action to relieve individuals of coerced debt, a form of economic abuse. Under the legislation, those who were forced to incur debt or took on debt without their knowledge would be provided a path to dispute such debt in court and be freed of the obligation to pay coerced debts.

“Economic abuse is pervasive – nearly 100% of all survivors of domestic violence experience it. And economic abuse is devastating – survivors cite it as among the top reasons that they stay in or return to an abusive situation,” said Nathaniel M. Fields, CEO of Urban Resource Institute, the largest provider of DV shelter services in the country. “Other methods of abuse such as physical or verbal abuse are more widely known and understood. It is much easier to normalize economic abuse in the absence of information and resources about it. The more information that is available to survivors, the easier it will be for a survivor to seek support on these often-complicated issues that arise from economic abuse.Providing resources to survivors and their families to help them achieve financial independence and overall wellness, including information about how to access those resources, is a vital first step to creating economic justice for those families. URI is grateful to bill sponsors Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal and State Senator Gonzalez for their leadership on this issue and Governor Kathy Hochul for signing it into law.”

“Her Justice applauds the passage of A.5347/S.5915, which will spread awareness about the prevalence of economic abuse, a reality for many survivors of intimate partner abuse. Because 83% of our clients are survivors of intimate partner violence, Her Justice knows the scars of economic abuse last long after someone escapes an abusive situation. The economic devastation for survivors caused by the pandemic and the backlog in the civil courts – which survivors use for support, custody, orders of protection, and divorces – have heightened the need for information and advocacy around intimate partner violence, including economic abuse. This bill ensures that resources will be devoted to helping survivors access information about, and the relief from, the long-term impacts of economic abuse,” said Amy Barasch, Executive Director of Her Justice.

“It is widely known that 99% of domestic violence victims contend with economic abuse in some manner, whether by an abuser withholding access to money, sabotaging credit or preventing a victim from working. In fact, it is one of the primary reasons survivors cite for staying in or returning to an abusive partner. It is critical for DV victims to understand how perpetrators use economic abuse to isolate them and make them financially dependent. We thank Governor Hochul, Assemblymember Rosenthal and Senator Gonzalez for championing this legislation, which will help DV victims understand how to prevent their victimization and the resources available to them should they become a victim of economic abuse,” said Joan Gerhardt, Director of Public Policy and Advocacy at the New York State Coalition Against Domestic Violence.