The #1 Thing that Keeps People in Abusive Relationships
If you would rather watch/listen than read, you can find the video to this article HERE.
The most common question I've heard about domestic violence is some version of "Why do they stay?" What people who've never been in one don't understand is that people stay in abusive relationships for lots of valid reasons. A few of those reasons are: nowhere to go, the parental rights of the abuser block options, fear that the abuser will get custody of children, denial, shame, hope, and the most effective way to keep people trapped in abusive relationships... financial abuse.
Financial abuse is a tactic used by abusers to gain power and control in a relationship by limiting the victim’s access to money and other financial assets.
Financial abuse (aka economic deprivation) is a type of abuse that I don't believe is addressed enough. Whether your household has little money or a lot, financial abuse is likely to be a factor. In fact, according to the National Network to End Domestic Violence, it happens, to some extent, in 99% of domestic violence situations!
Why does it happen in 99% of domestic violence relationships? Because it works! In fact, it’s one of the most effective tools for keeping us trapped in an abusive relationship. Fear of not being able to provide for ourselves and our kids is one of the top reasons women stay in or go back to abusive relationships.
When Does It Happen?
For some of us, financial abuse is present throughout our relationship. For others, it only shows up when we're trying to leave.
As with many types of abuse, financial abuse may start out subtly and progress over time. It can even look like love at first because abusers tend to be master manipulators. An example of this is them wanting us to move in with them so that they can "take care of" or "provide for" us. That might seem sweet, but really think about it. If you haven't been together for that long and you have your own place, why would they be pushing you to move in so fast?
Often, when it starts subtly, we believe that we can and should trust them. (After all, we're in love!) So we give the abuser control over the finances, which commonly leads to them giving us less and less access over time. Then one day we decide that we want some control again and discover that the accounts have all been moved or that we no longer have access to the "family" funds.
In other cases, when the abuser feels like the relationship (really their control over us) is deteriorating, they may be more obvious. For example, they may use violence, threats of violence, or intimidation to keep us from getting a job.
What Can Financial Abuse Look Like?
Not Allowing You to Work
- Many abusers won't allow us to get or keep jobs (or education) because they want to isolate us and make us dependent on them. This may look like:
* stalking or harassing you at your job
* causing you to lose a job by visibly beating you up before important meetings or interviews
* forbidding that you
participate in job training or