What is Financial Abuse?

In coming forward with my own personal experience with financial abuse, I am grateful for a new campaign called Purple Purse which is helping to raise awareness for this type of domestic violence.  As I was doing research on this, I realized there is little information out there to help victims despite the staggering statistic that financial abuse happens in 98% of all cases of domestic violence* .

So what exactly is domestic financial abuse?  It is a tactic used by abusers to gain control and power in a relationship and in doing so, traps their partners into staying in the relationship.  This abuse is usually subtle and not quite as direct as physical abuse but also has devastating short and long term consequences.  The following list was taken directly from the National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV) which describes how abusers gain financial control over their victims.

  • Forbidding the victim to work
  • Sabotaging work or employment opportunities by stalking or harassing the victim at the workplace or causing the victim to lose her job by physically battering prior to important meetings or interviews
  • Controlling how all of the money is spent
  • Not allowing the victim access to bank accounts
  • Withholding money or giving “an allowance”
  • Not including the victim in investment or banking decisions
  • Forbidding the victim from attending job training or advancement opportunities
  • Forcing the victim to write bad checks or file fraudulent tax returns
  • Running up large amounts of debt on joint accounts
  • Refusing to work or contribute to the family income
  • Withholding funds for the victim or children to obtain basic needs such as food and medicine
  • Hiding assets
  • Stealing the victim’s identity, property or inheritance
  • Forcing the victim to work in a family business without pay
  • Refusing to pay bills and ruining the victims’ credit score
  • Forcing the victim to turn over public benefits or threatening to turn the victim in for “cheating or misusing benefits”
  • Filing false insurance claims
  • Refusing to pay or evading child support or manipulating the divorce process by drawing it out by hiding or not disclosing assets

If you can relate to any of the above situations and want help to break free from an abusive relationship, please take that first brave step and reach out for help by telling someone.  Do not continue to be a silent statistic.  If you do not have anyone you can trust, call The National Domestic Violence Hotline at (800) 799-7233 for support.

At present, a majority of people do not realize that financial abuse is a form of domestic violence.  The Allstate Foundation with the help of actress Kerry Washington are hoping to change this with a recent public service announcement video about financial abuse.  I applaud both for their admirable efforts and hope that together we can make a difference in ending domestic violence.

* purplepurse.com/the-inside



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