Domestic abuse is a serious issue effecting thousands of women (and men) every day. In fact, domestic violence effects one in four women in her lifetime...that's far more than breast cancer, ovarian cancer, and lung cancer combined, and certainly doesn't get the same level of attention. Most people believe that physical and verbal abuse are only what constitute domestic violence, however financial abuse happens in nearly 99% of all domestic violence cases.
Why? The primary reason that domestic violence survivors stay or return to their abusers is that they do not have the financial resources or means to break free. While physical abuse leaves scars, financial abuse is very difficult to pin down, yet is is constantly used to trap victims in abusive relationships for years. This article is meant to draw attention to Allstate's great initiative, The Purple Purse, which draws attention to the concept of domestic financial abuse. But first, it may help to clarify a few things...
What Is 'Domestic Violence'?
Domestic violence is a pattern of assault and coercive behaviors that a person uses against their current or former intimate partner. It happens in relationships where the abuser and the victim are (or were) dating, living together, married or divorced. Domestic violence is purposeful behavior. A batterer’s pattern of abusive acts is directed at gaining and maintaining control over the victim.
What is 'Financial Abuse'?
Financial abuse prevents victims from acquiring, using or maintaining financial resources. Financial abuse is just as effective in controlling a victim as a lock and key. Abusers employ isolating tactics such as preventing their spouse or partner from working or accessing a bank, credit card or transportation. They might tightly monitor and restrict their partner’s spending. Victims of financial abuse live a controlled life where they have been purposely put into a position of dependence, making it hard for the victim to break free.
So why don't victims just leave?
The majority of the time, they simply cannot. When one party is almost entirely financially dependent on their abuser, they can either risk getting beat up or risk being homeless and ashamed...and generally, that choice is easy. Many would rather risk their own safety than admit to their family and friends that they made a mistake in choosing a partner and risk being kicked out on the street with nothing. If they happen to be married, oftentimes one party will lack the resources to hire an attorney and find a new place to live at the same time. What does this look like? Check out Allstate's video below or take this interactive experience from the Purple Purse to experience what it's like to go from victim to survivor.
If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, it is important to seek help from family and friends who love you, no matter how low you may feel. There are people who truly love you and will help get back on your feet and to safety again. Stay strong! GradMoney is here to help, too.