When debtors in California choose to approach a bankruptcy court, most of them have likely gone through a prolonged period of financial hardship. A report from the Notre Dame Law Review called this period of stress and deprivation "the sweatbox." Drawing upon long-term data from the Consumer Bankruptcy Project, the report identified a category of bankruptcy filers known as long strugglers. Between 2013 and 2016, 66 percent of the debtors surveyed by the organization struggled to repay debts for two years or more even when it meant forgoing food or medical care.
Almost one-third of these debtors grappled unsuccessfully with debts for five or more years. The number of people in this category more than doubled compared to bankruptcy filers in 2007.