[Julie Kun: Chief Executive Officer, WIRE]
Financial abuse is a form of family violence and it may exist with other forms of family violence such as physical abuse or it may exist just by itself.
So financial abuse in itself can take many forms. So, it can be refusing to let someone see financial information like bank statements. Not allowing them to be involved in financial decision-making of the household. Not allowing them to earn an income, so that could be not allowing them to work or to study in such a way that they could get a job. It also includes humiliating them and denigrating their skills as a financial decision-maker. Taking out loans, racking up debts in your partner’s name without their knowledge, or with their knowledge but with them not being in a position to do anything about it because of the power and control that’s been exerted.
So in short, financial abuse is about power and control being exerted by one person inappropriately over another. Financial abuse can manifest in a range of different ways.
[Moo Baulch: Former Chief Executive Officer
Domestic Violence NSW (DVNSW)]
Certainly, I mean the most obvious one that we think about is when people are prevented from having access to their income or using their income in the way they would want to, but financial abuse can look very different depending on situations.
Certainly it might be something like preventing somebody from going to work or going to study, being able to access income. It might be giving somebody a certain amount each week or each month and saying this is what you feed the kids in the household on. But it also exists in fairly affluent communities as well.
Financial abuse might look a little bit different when it’s connected to things like family trusts for example a woman might be affluent on paper but might not have access to the actual finances within a family or in a relationship. So there are a range of different ways that might look and it’s certainly thinking about that aspect of power and control.
[Michael Salter: Associate Professor of Criminology, School of Social Sciences, University of NSW]
Financial abuse involves the use of money in an intimate relationship to control and exploit someone else.
So financial abuse can involve a partner who is controlling access to money, controlling access to how money is spent and so the victim’s world becomes very tightly constrained. There becomes very little that the victim can do because they don’t have access to economic resources.
But financial abuse also involves the exploitation of the victim so the victim can be coerced or agree to take on debt, to take out loans that then the perpetrator isn’t paying back and so the issues, the financial implications of that accrues to the victim and the perpetrator essentially gets off scot-free and that is a really lasting effect of domestic and family violence for many women.
Understanding financial abuse is an important first step in offering support. These resources provide further information on the many forms financial abuse can take.