Guarding Against Financial Abuse: A Critical and Hidden Form of Domestic Violence
Draining the joint bank account. Taking away credit cards or intentionally harming personal credit. Restricting access to cash. Monitoring spending too closely.
These financial abuse tactics are as much a part of domestic violence as are physical and emotional abuse that affects one in four women in this country in her lifetime. According to the Allstate Foundation Purple Purse, 99 percent of domestic violence victims also suffer some sort of financial abuse, reports USA Today.
And financial abuse occurs every day of every month of every year, not just during October, nationally known as Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
“We do not talk about financial abuse, so many have not realized the impact,” says Katie Ray-Jones, Chief Executive Officer of the National Domestic Violence Hotline, that receives between 1,600 and 2,000 contacts a day from people across the U.S.
“Make sure you have access to your finances,” says Ray-Jones, CEO of the hotline that is partnering with Avon, the Avon Foundation for Women, and financial expert Suze Orman to produce a video series featuring stories of women overcoming domestic violence. One video in the series concerns financial abuse and plays on TheHotline.org during October.
Viewers are encouraged to watch and share the videos via their social media channels using the hashtag #WomenBreakingFree.
”You also have to check your credit score as partners may have opened credit in your name,” Ray-Jones says. “Know what revenue you have coming in and going out, and you might have to do that secretly.”
Another new public-service video, “Invisible Weapon,” from the Allstate Foundation Purple Purse campaign, features Serena Williams.
“Financial abuse is when the abuser controls access to money, including hiding assets, keeping a victim to get a job or denying them access to a bank or credit card account,” according to USA Today.
Allstate Foundation Purple Purse also launched a campaign across six major U.S. cities that uses urban artwork to highlight the issue of financial abuse, according to Capitol Hill Times.
“We need to get conversations started about these issues to bring them out from behind closed doors, so we encourage everyone to do that,” Ellen Lisak, Allstate Foundation Purple Purse senior program officer, tells Capitol Hill Times.
“As the company for women, Avon is committed to inspiring the financial independence, health and wellbeing of women and their families. With one in four women shown to be a victim of domestic violence sometime in her life, that means we all know a mother, a sister, a friend, a daughter who has experienced abuse,” shared Debbie Coffey, Vice President, Corporate Communications, New Avon LLC. “Without adequate economic resources, women are often incapable of breaking free of abusive relationships.”
“We’re at this pivotal moment and we have seen women come forward and share their stories,” Ray-Jones says. “We’re hoping to elevate awareness and to recognize this is abusive as well,” she says, adding that those who call the hotline get a code for free access to the video series as well as to the curriculum.”
What can you do as a leader, friend, colleague, sister, mother, aunt, daughter? And what can you do if this is happening to you?
If you are in a relationship where you are suffering from financial abuse, seek help from the hotline, where you can also find local resources. If you have a colleague at work or a friend who is dealing with financial abuse, understand the severity of the situation, its impact and offer a chance to listen, and be a safety net. You can also research local resources and advise your friend on how to exit the relationship.
The National Domestic Violence Hotline is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. There is a Live Chat feature as well as the hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233), or 1-800-787-3224 (TTY). Advocates who are deaf are available Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (PST) by videophone (855-812-1001), instant messenger (DeafHotline) or email (email@example.com).
loveisrespect is a project of The Hotline. Its purpose is to engage, educate and empower young people to prevent and end abusive relationships. The organization provides information and support to concerned friends and family members, teachers, counselors, service providers and members of law enforcement. Free and confidential phone, live chat and texting services are available 24/7/365.