Decreasing Domestic Violence Through Literacy

Can you imagine what it is like for someone who is told at one point or another in their life that they are not smart, they are not able to accomplish anything, or they are not a good person? This is what life can be like for someone who suffers from domestic violence. 

Low literacy can be a factor in the lives of women who suffer from domestic violence. As women with low education are economically less productive, it is typically the case that they are seen to have a less “bargaining power” in the family.

Adult Literacy’s Role in Domestic Abuse

The ProLiteracy Expanding Access project has a lasting goal to increase access to literacy services by reaching potential learners who receive services within social service agencies. With support from Dollar General Literacy Foundation, ProLiteracy works with partner programs to enhance literacy, workforce development, and basic education skills for adults and families.

Our community expansion initiatives continue to flourish in Ardmore, OK, and Zanesville, OH. Additionally, ProLiteracy, the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence, and the Florida Literacy Coalition have expanded the project from three to 29 domestic violence shelters across Florida. The shelters work with domestic violence survivors to transition out of abuse by helping them develop English language and literacy skills through financial literacy and workforce development classes.

Below is an inspirational story about a domestic abuse survivor who sought help through the program. With Expanding Access, doors opened in her life and she was able to find happiness and success for both herself and her son. 

Stephanie Hagan entered Peace River Center’s domestic violence shelter with her 9-year-old son three years ago, fleeing an abusive ex-boyfriend.  When Stephanie entered the shelter, she was in between jobs, having failed her Licensed Practical Nursing (LPN) state test. She struggled with some personal issues outside of the abuse, and felt a little discouraged and hopeless.  

After six weeks of being in the shelter, Stephanie enrolled in the adult literacy program supported by ProLiteracy.  After graduating from the literacy program sponsored by the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence Economic Empowerment program, she felt confident enough to take her LPN state exam again. Once Stephanie completed the adult literacy program, she enrolled in the Allstate Economic Freedom program, graduated, and received enough funding from the program to pay for her LPN state test and purchase scrubs to begin her new profession as an LPN.  

After passing her LPN test, Stephanie no longer met the criteria for the Hand Up For Housing program that offers assistance with moving costs. However, her new position provided a comfortable income, and she was able to move out of the shelter after receiving her first check. 

Prior to leaving shelter, Stephanie decided to continue her services on an outreach basis with the Economic Empowerment Program. A guest speaker inspired Stephanie to change her spending and saving habits, which played a major role in her ability to develop an effective budget.  

Stephanie stated that completing the adult literacy program, passing her state boards, and graduating from the Allstate program gave her the drive to continue her education.   The Women’s Independence Scholarship Program allowed Stephanie the ability to cut back on work hours when needed and remain economically stable, all while attending Warner University.  While working, attending college and Economic Empowerment groups at our outreach office, Stephanie also completed the Credit Counseling program, a partnership with National Network to End Domestic Violence Independence Program.

Because of Stephanie’s hard work, dedication, and partnerships through the Economic Empowerment program, Stephanie has remained violence-free over the past three years.     

In May, Stephanie graduated from Warner University with an Associate of Arts degree in General Studies.  Stephanie is so driven that she is continuing her studies in Peace River Center’s new literacy program funded by Wells Fargo and the Florida Literacy Coalition.   

Stephanie is one of many success stories, and a true example of the importance of all of the programs mentioned in her journey through our organization.  

Since its launch in 2012, Expanding Access has touched many lives. Over 3,800 adults, and their children have experienced life changes through the power of literacy and workforce development. View the full infographic below to see all of the stats for Expanding Access. 

Adult Literacy Expanding Access Infographic


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