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Empowering Survivors: How VITA Provides Crucial Financial Support for Domestic Violence Survivors 

Andrea Miller and Lisa Gabbard operate a small mobile VITA site that targets survivors of Domestic Violence, mostly in underserved and rural areas in Eastern KY. Andrea has been a VITA volunteer for 18 years; Lisa has volunteered for 15 years. Both Andrea and Lisa work for ZeroV, the state coalition for Kentucky’s 15 state-funded domestic violence shelter programs.

 

When survivors come into a shelter, they may have multiple needs, not just a need for immediate safety. After ensuring safety, advocates at member programs talk with survivors and develop an individualized plan based on that survivor’s needs and goals. Advocates connect survivors to resources within the community. Sometimes that need is tax preparation, and it might mean filing or amending previously submitted returns to ensure that survivors receive all the tax benefits for which they are eligible. These funds can be critical in helping a survivor get on their feet.

 

In the past, Lisa and Andrea have prepared both current and previous year returns, that, when processed by IRS, bring several thousand dollars into a survivor’s household. This financial opportunity is life-changing to a survivor, especially when statistics demonstrate that financial abuse occurs in 98% of DV relationships, and economic reasons are the #1 reason that survivors return to abusive partners. Having the opportunity to speak with trained and certified volunteers, both from the IRS and DV perspective, is a valuable service to survivors in our state.




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