Thursday, October 2, 2014

Financial Abuse

Actress Kerry Washington spoke last month about a tactic in domestic abuse that is both invisible and common:
Finances are almost always a weapon of choice.  Taking away access to cash, destroying credit, jeopardizing jobs -- financial abuse leaves invisible bruises that can take decades to heal.
Melissa Jeltsen explains:
Financial abuse is a tactic often used by abusers to control and isolate their partners. It takes many forms: Abusers may drastically limit their victims' access to cash so they have no money of their own....They may sabotage their victims' ability to work, or pile up debt under their victims' names.

For an abusive relationship to continue, it takes two mindsets: the abuser mindset (control, manipulation, isolation), and the victim mindset (resignation, shame, feeling of powerlessness).  The cycle is broken anytime one of these mindsets shifts.  Most often, it is the victim shifting from shame and powerlessness into survival.  It can be sudden, born of absolute necessity, or subtle, building over months or years.  Survival is one state, and once achieved, self-sufficiency is able to take root and grow.

Washington states,
I think people just aren't as aware of financial abuse.  If a woman isn't even aware of the dynamics of financial abuse -- what it looks like, what it is -- she may not even know that that's part of the tools being used to control her and manipulate her.. ...When there is more information around it, people can begin to identify it and then get the help they need.

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