Zonta USA Advocacy Action Center

Zonta International is a global organization of individuals dedicated to empowering women worldwide through service and advocacy. The Zonta USA Advocacy Action Center is a tool for our members in the United States and other individuals who share our commitment to gender equality to take action to improve the lives of women and girls. With your help, we can make a difference. In addition to the actions below, click here to support our joint efforts with UNICEF USA to end child marriage in the United States.

Provide survivors of domestic violence with financial stability
Abusers commonly use financial abuse (also known as economic abuse) as a tactic to gain power and control in a relationship. This includes concealing information, limiting the victim’s access to assets, preventing the victim from working or attending school and reducing access to the family finances. One of the most powerful methods of keeping a survivor trapped in an abusive relationship, financial abuse greatly reduces the survivor’s ability to stay safe after leaving an abusive situation.

According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV), up to 99% of domestic violence survivors experience economic abuse during an abusive relationship, and survivors often cite finances as the biggest barrier to leaving.

The bipartisan and bicameral Savings Access For Escaping and Rebuilding Act of 2021, or the SAFER Act (H.R. 2953 and S. 3993), will amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to allow domestic abuse survivors to withdraw up to $10,000 penalty-free from their retirement plans a year following domestic abuse and would permit them to replace the funds over a three-year period.

“We know domestic and family violence have increased during the COVID-19 pandemic as more families are staying home. To make matters more difficult, victims of domestic violence are often restricted from accessing their own finances. This makes it incredibly difficult to escape unsafe situations in the home,” said Representative Lucy McBath (D-GA). “This legislation supports our efforts to support victims and their children during an especially challenging time. Now, more than ever, we must protect victims and help give them a safer future.”

The SAFER Act was introduced by Representatives McBath, Gwen Moore (D-WI) and Lloyd Smucker (R-PA) in the House of Representatives in May 2021 and by Senators Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) and John Cornyn (R-TX) in the Senate in April 2022. Please urge your representative and senators to co-sponsor and support H.R. 2953 and S. 3993. If they have already sponsored or co-sponsored the bill, you can send a message of thanks.

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