April is recognized as Financial Literacy Month in the U.S., and it's a topic we here at NCADV believe is an important one for domestic violence victims and survivors. Up to 99% of domestic violence victims experience economic abuse during an abusive relationship, and finances are often cited as the biggest barrier to leaving an abusive relationship.
Economic abuse involves maintaining control over financial resources, withholding access to money, or attempting to prevent a victim or survivor from working and/or attending school in an effort to create financial dependence as a means of control. Victims and survivors are often forced to choose between staying in abusive relationships and poverty or even homelessness. Economic abuse is a very common reason victims stay in abusive relationships. Economic abuse can take many forms, including employment-related abuse, preventing the victim from accessing existing funds, coerced debt, and more.
Employment-related abuse prevents the victim from earning money by:
Abusers also prevent victims from accessing existing funds by:
Coerced debt refers to non-consensual, credit-related transactions in the context of an abusive relationship. Coerced debt destroy's the victim's credit rating, making it difficult for her/him to obtain future loans, rent an apartment and even get a job. Coerced debt includes:
Other forms of economic abuse include:
Did you know ...
Victims of domestic violence may be unable to leave an abusive partner or may be forced to return to an abusive partner for economic reasons. Victims of coerced debt may face massive barriers to economic self-sufficiency, including struggling to find a job or even obtaining a place to live after leaving an abusive relationship due to debt and its detrimental effects on their personal credit scores.
If you are in an abusive relationship and are interested in taking steps towards financial independence, check out the following tips, adapted from Hope & Power for Your Personal Finances: A Rebuilding Guide Following Domestic Violence (also available en Espanol).
We also offer a webinar series, in conjunction with the National Endowment for Financial Education, to help survivors learn strategies and tools to rebuild their life after leaving an abusive relationship. Topics vary throughout the year, so check back often for updates!