“Gender-based violence costs money. A lot of money,” introduces the theme of her Action Project Mary Olivia Storz, noting that the economic toll of violence compounds over a lifetime, contributing to the gender wealth gap and narrowing pathways to opportunity.
According to Mary, acute costs like STI testing, legal fees, and emergency room visits meld into a lifetime burden. “These costs are particularly consequential for young people, at the precipice between vulnerability and economic security,” she adds.
This is why the Survivor Fund Hub, a national financial care fund for survivors of gender-based violence, was created.
Inspiration behind the project
As Mary explains, current public policy interventions do not adequately address the financial implications of violence, often focusing on abstract legal processes rather than on immediate, practical needs. With gender-based violence (GBV) vastly underreported, the limited criminal justice resources available to survivors are not accessible. Most of the time, survivors of violence absorb the financial ramifications of their victimization. The lack of financial care infrastructure limits economic potential, the opportunity to recover, and meaningful choices.
Mary’s proposed policy solution and passion come from direct lived experience, from confronting material challenges and wondering how this experience could be improved for her community members. Mary brings her experiences to the policy table, on the crooked edge of human behavior, choosing the side of empathy. “I hope to use research, policy analysis, training, and cross-sector collaboration to elucidate further the connection between economic security, gender inequity, and gender-based violence,” she explains.
“In building evidence and understanding the tangle of policy, I hope to expand the model of financial care funds for survivors and contribute to cross-sector collaboration by moving this approach forward.”
What if we pursued joy, resilience, and healing, alongside justice?
Project Development and Execution
Mary started The Survivor Fund already in 2017. The first such fund in the country, this low-barrier model covers basic needs for college students from emergency housing to changing locks to counseling sessions. The existence of available, accessible funding for survivors provides the infrastructure for other choices. “My work considers our current approach to violence and asks for care,” she summarizes her programming. “What if we pursued joy, resilience, and healing, alongside justice? What would the world look like if we tangibly and adequately supported survivors of gender-based violence?”
The Survivor Fund Hub is the result of seven years of organizing and researching. Aside from security money, time, and research expertise, to officially start the organization, Mary also had to hire an attorney. “It was difficult to file for non-profit status as well as to provide direct cash assistance,” Mary explains.
And a favorite experience? “We hosted a national webinar,” Mary shares. “I was incredibly moved by the commitment to the issue.”
As of August 2023, the Project continues. Anyone is encouraged to donate or volunteer to help keep the Survivor Fund Hub running.
Updated August 2023