We have discussed three reasons why women stay in abusive relationships. The blogs can be found here: www.katelinmaloney.com/blog
I’d like to talk about money and how it affects a woman’s length of stay, specifically financial abuse.
Abuse is all about control, power, and manipulation. What better way to gain power than by cutting off the victim’s access to the family’s finances?
Listed below are just some examples of financial abuse:
Preventing the victim from working.
Making her give the abuser her paycheck.
Making her account for all spending and put the victim on a strict budget.
Give the victim a small allowance.
Denying victim access to information on family finances.
The abuser controls all money and financial decisions.
The abuser runs up credit card bills.
He ruins her credit.
All of these examples show the victim losing control of an important part of her livelihood. If she isn’t allowed to work, her social contact is limited and she can’t advance in her profession. She becomes more dependent on the abuser financially.
It is common in an abusive relationship that the abuser controls the majority of the finances. Sometimes the victim doesn’t even have access to money. When attempting to leave, the effects of financial abuse hinder her ability.
In many states a woman needs her own lawyer when trying to get an Order of Protection from her abuser. This costs money. The abuser can fight the order of protection and bring it to a full court trial, which costs the victim a lot of money. Once the victim has the Order of Protection, it doesn’t guarantee the victim will not be harassed, it only means that the abuser isn’t supposed to harass.
Separation/divorce can cost the victim a substantial amount of money as well. The main characteristic of an abuser is their need to control the victim. They can do this through the court system, dragging out the separation/divorce into a trial, fighting for insignificant things, and/or claiming the woman is abusive. He might fight for custody of the children. All of these tactics cost the victim money she doesn’t necessarily have. This is just one more form of abuse which the victim suffers at the hands of her abuser.
Without access to money, how is the victim supposed to hire a lawyer? How can she rebuild after divorce without any credit? Some abused women have not worked outside the home. She’ll need to find a job and childcare. It is very difficult for a woman without financial means to leave an abusive relationship because she can’t hire a good lawyer, might have to fight for her children, and/or has to rebuild and live without financial means.
We can support her by giving her access to information. We can help her create a resume, find a job and daycare, and also guide her to a domestic violence organization where they have additional information. Many organizations have access to victim advocates and lawyers.
Remember, if we can help one person, we’ve done our job.
Please note: If you are in an abusive relationship, please reach out to your local domestic violence organization or call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-7233.
Men are victims of domestic violence too. For this series I am focusing on women and why they stay as long as they do.