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Economy Spurs 240% Spike at Texas Domestic Violence Shelters

Tuesday, December 23, 2008 General News J E 4
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Allstate Foundation Survey Says Numbers Will Climb Around New Year



IRVING, Texas, Dec. 22 /PRNewswire/ -- Domestic violence shelters across Texas are experiencing an unprecedented jump in families needing emergency rescue during the current economic downturn and are bracing for an even greater increase after the holidays, according to an Allstate Foundation survey.



Of the 29 shelters the Allstate Foundation surveyed in Texas, 83 percent say the number of hotline calls, walk-ins and/or families staying at their shelters has dramatically increased this year. Walk-ins at one shelter jumped 240 percent. Crisis hotlines calls have doubled in some cases, and the number of women and children staying at shelters has increased by as much as 71 percent in some instances.



"Every year the stresses of the holiday season send women and children fleeing for safety," said Paige Flink, Executive Director of Family Place in Dallas. "But this year, the financial pressures of the holiday season are compounded by the weakened economy. This is a recipe for disaster and I'm afraid we will see more tragic stories on the news if we don't prepare women today."



Unfortunately, this increased demand for emergency services won't disappear with the New Year. More than 70% of the shelters surveyed explain many battered women try to keep their families together so the children can have holiday memories. The stresses of the holiday season come to bear eventually, however, and shelter beds are overflowing throughout the month of January, as well.



"I often hear people ask why a woman doesn't 'just leave' an abusive situation and take her family to safety," said Janemarie Clark, Allstate Foundation Manager for Texas. "Financial dependence is the reason. When women believe that they don't have the resources to feed and clothe their children, they will stay in a dangerous domestic situation."



How to Get Help

The Allstate Foundation and Allstate financial specialists recommend the following for individuals in domestic violence situations:



Contact your local domestic abuse program: To locate a program in your community, contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE. These programs can assist with emergency assistance funds, shelter, utility and rent assistance, public benefits and affordable housing.



Obtain a copy of your credit report and monitor your credit often: Most financial institutions provide credit monitoring services, such as Privacy Guard, at low costs. You can get a copy of your credit report by contacting one of three credit bureaus.





Open a post office box: Obtain P.O. boxes from the United States Postal Service or other vendors for mail and any financial information you may receive before you leave or right after you leave your abuser.



Gather important financial information: Call your utility companies, wireless telephone services and financial institutions, to secure your private information with a PIN and password. Do not allow vendors to use your mother's maiden name, Social Security number, or date of birth to authenticate your identity.



Change passwords/beneficiaries: Change ATM and debit card PINs and online banking, investing and personal e-mail account passwords. If your partner is currently the designated beneficiary of your insurance, will or trust account, choose a new person to be the beneficiary.



About the survey:

The Allstate Foundation statewide survey was conducted with shelters in the following Texas cities and/or surrounding areas:





About The Allstate Foundation

Established in 1952, The Allstate Foundation is an independent, charitable organization made possible by subsidiaries of The Allstate Corporation. Allstate and The Allstate Foundation sponsor community initiatives to promote "safe and vital communities"; "tolerance, inclusion, and diversity"; and "economic empowerment." The Allstate Foundation believes in the financial potential of every individual and in helping America's families achieve their American dream. For additional information, visit www.clicktoempower.org.



-- Equifax: 1-800-685-1111 or www.equifax.com -- Experian: 1-866-966-1067 or www.experian.com -- TransUnion: 1-877-680-7275 or www.transunion.com

SOURCE The Allstate Foundation
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