Domestic violence affects one in four women in her lifetime – that’s more women than breast cancer, ovarian cancer and lung cancer combined. Most people think only of physical abuse when they consider domestic violence, yet financial abuse happens in 99% of all domestic violence cases.
The number one reason domestic violence survivors stay or return to an abusive relationship is that they don’t have the financial resources to break free.
Physical abuse leaves bruises and scars.
Financial abuse is an Invisible Weapon
that traps victims in abusive relationships.
What Is Domestic Violence?
Domestic violence is a pattern of assaultive 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.
In 99% of all domestic violence cases, financial abuse helps keep victims trapped in the abusive relationship.
1-in-4 Women Report Experiencing Domestic Violence in her Lifetime
Why Don’t Victims Leave?
Leaving is not easy. It involves many internal and external factors. A complex combination of psychological, cultural, religious, familial and financial factors contribute to a victim’s decision to remain in or leave an abusive relationship. Domestic violence victims frequently cite income, employment and financial stability as the strongest, most immediate deterrents to leaving abusive situations. The devastation of leaving a home, income, benefits and financial security behind are scenarios that all victims of domestic violence must overcome, regardless of their education, job skills and personal earning potential.
However, leaving an abusive situation can be dangerous. It often increases the following risks:
- Batterers escalate in their assaultive and coercive behaviors when the victim is trying to separate.
- The majority of homicides occur when the victim has left the abuser or is attempting to leave.
- The risk of being assaulted or stalked in the workplace increases as this is often one of the places the batterer is sure to find the victim.