URI and BBVA Tackle Economic Abuse


In our continued efforts to address the complex layers of domestic violence, URI is proud to announce our new partnership with BBVA to help domestic violence survivors overcome economic abuse.

For many domestic violence victims, establishing financial security and independence remains an enormous challenge. Currently, 98 percent of domestic violence victims experience economic abuse, putting families at greater risk of staying in abusive situations or leaving to face homelessness and poverty.

Thanks to BBVA’s generous donation of 100 computers, financial literacy training, and a $20,000 BBVA Compass Foundation gift—a contribution totaling $50,000 in financial and in-kind support—computer labs will be now be placed in all of URI’s domestic violence shelters. Survivors in URI’s shelter will be able to gain the skills and knowledge they need to lead secure, self-sufficient lives free of abuse.

To learn more about this initiative, read more here.

URI Welcomes URIPALS Coordinator Ann Michitsch


Ann Michitsch joined URI in May as our first URIPALS coordinator. Based at Urban Women’s Safe Haven (UWSH) where the URIPALS program (People and Animals Living Safely) operates, Ann will be instrumental in coordinating the program as well as helping to expand it to other URI sites.

Ann has more than 20 years of wide-ranging experience in the field of social services, including counseling adolescents in crisis, addressing the multiple complex needs of older adults, and working on housing issues. An animal lover, Ann returned to school to study veterinary technology and has worked in several veterinary offices and pet stores and with many animal welfare organizations, establishing strong relationships with many of the community partners that we are actively working with as part of URIPALS.

“One of the qualifications of being the URIPALS coordinator is to be a bridge between the human welfare and the animal welfare communities. I feel all of my life’s work and education have been a testament to this,” Ann said. We are very pleased to have such a dedicated animal welfare and social service advocate as part of our team.

URI and New York City Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence Team Up for Pet Safety Awareness Month

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URI and the New York City Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence (OCDV) have teamed up this May, in recognition of Pet Safety Awareness Month, on a campaign to shine a light on the unique challenges families with pets face in domestic violence situations and raise awareness about innovative services now available to victims of abuse with pets through the URIPALS program. With as many as 48% of domestic violence victims staying in abusive situations out of fear of what would happen if they left their pets behind, the campaign will promote the safety of families with pets so that they too can get the support and services they need to recover from abuse and rebuild their lives.

Bringing together public, private, and non-profit leaders in the pet safety movement, the campaign highlights how important it is for the community to work together to ensure the well-being of the entire family. OCDV and URI have partnered with the pet-supply store Petland and C-Town supermarkets to spread the word about this initiative—Petland will place posters on the doors of its 70 stores in the New York area, and C-Town will include information about URIPALS in its weekly circular for stores across all five boroughs. Representatives from OCDV’s Domestic Violence Response Team will also hand out materials and information to hundreds of commuters in neighborhoods with a high incidence of domestic violence. These outreach and awareness efforts will ensure that families with pets know where to go to get help.

Read more

URIPALS Now Accepts Dogs

URI and Purina are celebrating the launch of the Purina Play Haven and Dog Park, NYC’s first-ever dog park in a domestic violence shelter, marking the official expansion of the URIPALS—People and Animals Living Safely—program to welcome dogs into shelter.

Sharing the belief that people and pets are better together, URI and Purina teamed up in October 2013 to raise awareness about reducing barriers to safety for families with pets in domestic violence situations.

Thanks to Purina’s generous support, URI constructed the outdoor dog park at its largest emergency shelter, Safe Haven, where URIPALS was established in June 2013. Complete with a ramp, tunnel, bridge and platform for dogs to play and exercise, as well as overhead trellises to ensure the privacy and security of shelter residents, the Purina Play Haven is a calming retreat where domestic violence survivors and their pets can spend time healing together. READ MORE >

Economic Abuse in Domestic Violence Situations

98 percent of domestic violence victims experience economic abuse. With limited resources and options, victims of abuse frequently face a double-edged sword—stay in domestic violence situations, or leave and risk facing homelessness and poverty.

From running up debt on victims’ credit cards to keeping them on a strict budget/allowance, batterers use economic—often along with physical, sexual, and emotional—abuse as another means of controlling victims and preventing them from leaving violent relationships. Moreover, abusers often restrict victims’ ability to obtain or keep a job in order to prevent them from achieving financial independence with as many as 50 percent of abuse victims reporting that they lost their job due to domestic violence, and more than 50 percent of victims reporting harassment at work.

Causing ruined credit scores, identity or property theft, legal issues, and erratic employment histories, economic abuse often continues to impact victims’ future employment, housing, and financial security even after they have left the abusive relationship. In fact, seven out of eight women who go back to the abuser after leaving a domestic violence situation return because of financial pressures they face as a result of economic abuse.

If you are in a domestic violence situation, it is important to make financial planning a part of your general safety planning. The tips below are an important first step in ensuring that victims of economic abuse protect themselves, their families, and their financial futures. Read more >