Abuse takes many forms that are invisible to even a close observer. How can you tell when a person is a victim of financial abuse? It is hard to see, but abusers use this tactic to take away any power that their significant other might have over his or her own life. In fact, abusers in virtually 100 percent of domestic violence cases used financial abuse as a means of control. Those wounds to victims’ fiscal health can follow them for months or years.
Abusers control every penny
From the outside friends and family may believe their loved one has the financial means to use as part of their plan to leave. Most families share bank accounts, credit cards and both partners’ names are on bigger assets They may not realize money is a huge barrier. This assumption is even stronger if the victim is gainfully employed. The person may earn the income, but that does not mean they control the income.
Don’t count on money in the joint bank account
Abusers take steps to block access to any joint assets. Victims must set up their own resources to use when they break from their abuser. Opening a separate bank account is the most important first step to be ready for costs you will have when you leave, according to Madison Blancaflor in Starting Over: How to rebuild your finances after escaping a financially abusive relationship. Create a budget for your financial needs once you are on your own. You can find templates online that will prompt you for the categories to consider. The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence offers a series of videos that victims can use as part of making their escape plan.
Alliance for Children and Families offers a free, six week Financial Literacy workshop that teaches its participants how to manage their money for financial stability. Classes are available on Tuesdays at 11 AM or 6 PM in Canton, and on Thursdays at 11 AM or 6 PM in Alliance. Participants who complete the class receive a $200 award at graduation. Contact the agency at (330) 821-6332 to enroll.
Do you have other ideas to help victims establish financial safety? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to share them.