Domestic Abuse Is Not Always Physical

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Financial Abuse is often cited by abused victims as the main reason they remain with or return to an abusive partner. 
 
We know that domestic abuse (D.A.) is a pattern of coercive, controlling behavior. Financial Abuse (F.A.) is a common tactic abusers use to control and isolate their partner, and it can have far-reaching and devastating consequences. It may be subtle or overt, but generally will include tactics to conceal information and limit the victim’s access to assets or family finances. This type of abuse accompanies emotional, physical and sexual abuse and is intentionally used to manipulate, intimidate, and threaten, thus entrapping the victim in the relationship. This type of abuse may be present throughout the relationship or may occur when the survivor attempts to leave. While difficult to understand, financial abuse is one of the most powerful methods of trapping the victim in an abusive relationship and diminishes the likelihood of staying safe after leaving the abuser.   
Research indicates that F.A. occurs in ninety-nine percent of domestic violence cases. Victims’ concerns about their ability to provide for themselves and their children are one of the main reasons for remaining with an abusive partner. F.A. may begin subtly and progress over time. Initially, it may appear like love as the abuser is quite charming at first, but really is a master at manipulation. The abuser may say, “I know you are under a lot of stress now, so why don’t you just let me take care of the finances and I’ll give you money each week to take care of what you need.”  The victim may believe that they can trust the partner they love and may willingly give over control of the money and how it is spent. Eventually the abuser gives the victim less and less “allowance” and should the victim decide to take back control of the finances, they discover that the accounts have been moved or that they no longer have knowledge or access to the family funds. In other cases, the F.A. may be more overt. Violence or threats of violence and intimidation may keep the victim from working or having access to family funds. Whether subtle or overt, there are common methods that are used to gain financial control over their partner:   
  • Forbidding partner to work 
  • Harassing victim at work or physically battering prior to a meeting or interview with intention of having victim losing their job.  Keeping victim from attending job training or advancement opportunities 
  • Controlling how money is spent.  Makes all investment or banking decisions.  Will not allow victim access to bank accounts and withholding money or giving an “allowance”   
  • Forcing the victim to write bad checks or file fraudulent tax returns 
  • Running up large amounts of debt on joint accounts 
  • Refusing to work or contribute to the family income 
  • Withholding money to buy basic needs such as food, clothing and medicine 
  • Hiding assets 
  • Stealing victim’s identity, property, or inheritance   
  • Forcing victim to work in family business without pay 
  • Ruining victim’s credit score by refusing to pay bills 
  • Forcing victim to turn over public benefits or threatening to report victim for misusing benefits 
  • Filing false insurance claims 
  • Refusing to pay child support or manipulating divorce proceedings by hiding or not disclosing assets 
The effects of financial abuse can be devastating. In the short term, access to money is imperative to remaining safe. Without assets, survivors are often unable to obtain affordable housing or funds to provide for children and themselves. The fear of homelessness will force the victim to return to the abusive relationship. Those who manage to escape and survive initially often face overwhelming odds in obtaining long-term security and safety. Ruined credit scores, sporadic employment histories and legal issues caused by the abuse make it extremely difficult to gain independence and long term security. 
Contact the Victim Advocate at (318)992-2067/cwilson@lasalleso.com) for assistance if you are a victim of domestic violence. If you are in immediate danger, dial 911. 
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