Financial Dependency & Domestic Violence

Economic Abuse Is a Form of Domestic Violence

26 million Americans lost their jobs in the first five weeks of the COVID-19 lockdown. Although the unemployment rate has decreased since then, that does not mean the US economy is up and running again. Millions of people remain unemployed or are working part-time until things go back to normal.

These burdens can translate into domestic violence, as financial dependence is one of the primary reasons a victim is unable to leave their abusive relationship. Studies show that low income and unemployment are risk factors for domestic violence, particularly, male unemployment.

Times are tough right now, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to devastate lives and livelihoods. The combination of high unemployment, isolation, and continuously rising death tolls and hospitalizations have understandably pushed people to their breaking points, which increases the risks of domestic violence. Specifically, economic abuse. Economic abuse, or financial abuse, involves controlling a victim’s finances through various abusive acts.

The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence breaks (NCADV) down economic abuse into three categories and provides examples of each:

Employment-related abuse: This hinders a victim’s ability to earn money.

  • Preventing the victim from going to work
  • Interfering with a victim’s employment
  • Inhibiting a victim’s work performance by harassing them with phone calls, surprise visits, and more
  • Demanding a victim to quit their job
  • Stopping victims from looking for jobs or going to interviews

Preventing access to funds: Abusers stop victims from using existing funds.

  • Deciding when and how victims can use money
  • Forcing victims to give money to their abuser
  • Demanding victims to sign a lease/mortgage or assets in the abuser’s name
  • Using a victim’s money without them knowing
  • Prohibiting victims from accessing bank accounts

Coerced debt: This refers to non-consensual, credit-related transactions that destroy the victim’s credit rating, which will make it harder for them to get loans, rent an apartment, and get a job.

  • Applying for credit cards, obtaining loans, or opening other financial accounts in a victim’s name
  • Forcing victims to obtain loans
  • Forcing victims to sign financial documents
  • Threatening or physically forcing victims to make credit-related transactions
  • Refinancing a mortgage or loan without the victim’s knowledge

Economic abuse can take on other forms, according to the NCADV, such as:

  • Withholding necessities such as food, clothes, shelter, medication, etc.
  • Refusing to pay child support or spousal support
  • Stealing and/or destroying the victim’s belongings
  • Requiring victims to justify every expense paid and abusing them
  • Constantly filing expensive lawsuits

Committing Economic Abuse Without Realizing It

Millions of families are struggling to make ends meet during the pandemic, forcing earners to make crucial decisions about their individual or family’s expenses and spending habits. Unfortunately, your family and household members may perceive this as economic abuse whether or not it was intended. Maybe you asserted how your family members can spend their money, made important financial decisions without consulting people who may be impacted, or opened a bank account without telling your spouse.

Whatever the case may be, know that our Denver domestic violence defense attorneys are here to help. We understand good people make mistakes but shouldn’t suffer a lifetime of humiliation as a result. To learn how we can fight your charges, please contact us at (303) 732-5048!

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