Model & Strategy

FreeFrom works to dismantle the nexus between gender-based violence and financial insecurity so that survivors have the opportunity to thrive and live free from abuse. Financial insecurity is the number one threat to a survivor’s long-term safety, as it is the chief motivator for survivors who remain in or return to abusive relationships. Currently, however, most shelters and emergency services have little to no programming or support geared towards achieving financial stability. Many service providers are survivors themselves, struggling with similar challenges as their clients, and find it difficult to focus on building a foundation for success for themselves and their clients without the tools and support needed.

FreeFrom has a three-pronged strategy for transforming our response to domestic violence, building capacity within the domestic violence movement to support survivors’ financial recovery, using innovative strategies to reach survivors directly with self-help tools and resources, and removing structural barriers to survivors’ financial security through policy and regulatory reform.
FreeFrom believes in the creativity, resourcefulness, and power that each survivor has to achieve financial independence and to build communities that support individual, intergenerational and collective healing. Their holistic strategy is responsive to the needs of survivors and supports their agency in determining their own path towards financial, physical and emotional well-being.

At a Glance
Founded: 2016
Founder & CEO: Sonya Passi
Economic Empowerment
Location of work: Domestic, West Coast
FreeFrom
Los Angeles, CA
Financial security and safety for survivors
Meet Sonya Passi

Sonya Passi is working to transform the way we address domestic violence in the US, from a short-term, crisis intervention, band-aids approach toward a focus on long-term recovery and safety for survivors, their families, and their communities. She grew up, like most of us, in and around abuse of different kinds. She watched her aunt start a business out of necessity to make ends meet and put food on the table because of domestic violence and watched many other adults around her stay in abusive situations out of financial necessity. From a very young age, she understood that if you aren’t safe in your own home, you could never really feel safe anywhere in the world. Immersed in human rights principles as a young teenager, she was clear that safety in the home is a basic human right.

At 16 years old, Sonya began hosting domestic violence awareness weeks at her high school. In college at Cambridge University, she started a group that was educating campus students about intimate partner violence and, as a second-year student at UC Berkeley School of Law, she co-founded the Family Violence Appellate Project (FVAP). FVAP has transformed the legal landscape for survivors in California, by providing pro bono appellate legal services and creating binding case law to support survivors across the state. She moved on from this organization, which remains a thriving nonprofit, to found FreeFrom and attack the root problem of financial insecurity for domestic abuse survivors on a national scale.

Impact

FreeFrom’s train-the-trainer model reforms the existing system by teaching shelter staff and others who work directly with abuse survivors the basics of financial empowerment. FreeFrom has trained 53 individuals in 3 cities across the US with about 150 more in the pipeline as of January 2020.

Organizations that have completed their training have transformed their work in many ways, from increasing salaries to provide a living wage to talking to survivors about their career goals and skills to dreaming up new co-operative businesses.

GIFTED, FreeFrom’s social enterprise, has been profitable for the second year since its launch. It provides a platform for 7 survivor entrepreneurs to sell their products while employing 3 survivors at a living wage to run store operations.

FreeFrom developed an online Self Help Compensation Tool that walks survivors through their legal options in the aftermath of abuse. It has been used in 44 states and 90% of users say they are more likely to pursue compensation.

FreeFrom hosts a Survivor Wealth Summit every summer, bringing together the domestic violence movement and the asset-building world to build intersectional power. In 2019, it gathered 330 folks from 3 countries and 35 states.

  • HAPPENING TODAY: Join us at 11am PST/2pm EST to learn directly from our team how your organization or community can… https://t.co/EKi2OTk2y5
  • Survivors indicate that they need only $730 to stay safe right now, a low sum compared to the costs of existing IPV… https://t.co/6XIHMqCy9W
  • RT @jessradio: There’s a US-based group called @freefromorg that gives cash grants to victim-survivors so they can leave safely and start e…
  • RT @ItsTimeYEG: This.
  • RT @LSReform: How to truly address intimate partner violence.
  • We address intimate partner violence as if it were a natural disaster - a tornado or hurricane that came out of now… https://t.co/KCXg2p7v3O
  • RT @NRCDV: We agree. #SurvivorsKnowBest. This @freefromorg shines a light on survivor needs with findings like: $1,280 = the average $ am…
  • REGISTER NOW: Want to learn how we provided $250 grants to 1,100 survivors of intimate partner violence? Join our w… https://t.co/7ZU1unLuBq
  • RT @ndvh: #LaborDay is a day to honor & recognize the American labor movement. If you are experiencing abuse, it's also a good day to learn…
  • RT @HR4Workers: Follow the lead of those doing the work. @freefromorg is showing up and showing employers there are real ways to support wo…
  • RT @novabuckscounty: In April, @freefromorg launched a Safety Fund to support survivors in getting and staying safe during this unprecedent…
  • While our employees are working, FreeFrom is paying for their kids to be supervised and supported in a school pod!… https://t.co/Cfd4rux4jN
  • RT @PCADVorg: Wearing a mask & staying home can help curb the spread of #COVID19, but it presents a different challenge for domestic violen…
  • 38% of black women, 45% of latinx women, and 29% of white women report delaying or cancelling appointments to recei… https://t.co/5PEyzERVji
  • RT @RCGVmsu: @freefromorg released a study comprising data from 1300 survivors about financial health, the cost of experiencing abuse and w…
  • RT @RoddenberryFdn: Compelling report from one of our Roddenberry Fellows @freefromorg on the needs and challenges of domestic and intimate…
  • RT @RSFSocFinance: RSF grantee @freefromorg has published an important report on what survivors of partner violence need during COVID-19
  • RT @OmahaWomensFund: "Survivors were in dangerous situations long before COVID-19, and they will remain so when this is all over unless we…
  • RT @aliciagarza: NEW EPISODE ALERT!! This week we’re joined by the homie Sonya Passi from @freefromorg! Join us as we talk about daily beac…