DON’T DO IT ALONE
Organisations such as the Department of Social Development’s Gender-Based Violence Command Centre and People Opposing Women Abuse (POWA) have social workers on standby to help support men and women in the middle of domestic abuse escape their relationships.
The best advice from a victim-survivor was: Do not be afraid to ask for help, and accept when it is given. Where possible, reach out to your family and friends. They are your ultimate support system. They may not be able to support you 100% financially, but they could help with small things, making your burden a little bit lighter while you go through these changes.
ECONOMIC ABUSE IS AN ASPECT OF ‘COERCIVE CONTROL’
Economic or financial abuse is an aspect of ‘coercive control’ – a pattern of controlling, threatening and degrading behaviour that restricts a victims’ freedom.
It’s crucial to realize that financial abuse rarely occurs in a vacuum; rather, most of the time, those who commit it utilize other abusive behaviours as leverage and reinforcement.
Financial abuse refers to a perpetrator / abuser restricting and controlling their partner’s present and future activities as well as their freedom of choice through the use or misuse of money. It may involve gambling with family resources, using credit cards without authorization, and signing contracts in their partner’s name.
Financial abuse can prevent victim-survivors from having enough money for necessities like food and clothing. They may be left without access to their own bank accounts, without any means of independent support, and with debts incurred by violent partners filed against their names. Financial control over child maintenance might continue be exercised by the abuser even after a victim has left the family.
Sadly, financial abuse affects the vast majority of survivors at some point.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO ADDRESS FINANCIAL ABUSE?
One of the most prevalent methods of coercive control is the manipulation of money and other economic resources, depriving victim-survivors of the resources they need for independence, resistance, and emancipation.
• It prevents people from leaving: Many victim-survivors believe they have no choice but to stay with an abuser because they lack access to economic resources.
• Riskier situation for the survivor: Victim-survivors who experience increased danger, injuries, and even homicide as a result of staying with and abuser for extended periods of time due to economic impediments to leaving can be identified.
• A barrier to an independent life: Economic abuse doesn’t require physical contact and can continue even after a divorce. Victim-survivors are frequently left in debt, and their capacity to rebuild their lives after leaving is impacted by their lack of financial security.
ECONOMIC ABUSE: A SILENT FORM OF ABUSE
Financial abuse can start out subtly and worsen with time, much like other types of abuse. Because abusers are skilled at manipulating others and can come off as quite charming, it might even seem like love at first. The abuser might say things like, “I know you’re under a lot of stress right now, why don’t you simply let me take care of the finances and I’ll give you money each week to take care of what you need,” or “I know you’re under a lot of pressure right now, I’ll handle the finances”.
In these situations, the victim-survivor might feel that they should or can trust their romantic partner and may voluntarily give over control over the money and its use. The financial abuse may be much more obvious in other situations. Violence, threats of violence, and intimidation are frequently used by abusers to prevent their victims from working or having access to family money. Abusers frequently employ certain techniques to take control of their partner’s finances, whether they are covert or overt.