AUGUSTA (WJBF) – When most people think of domestic violence they envision the physical acts of beating, slapping, punching, pushing, choking, spitting or even stomping on someone. But, domestic violence also includes financial abuse which can be devastating and put a tight choke hold on victims resulting in their inability to leave an abuse partner or spouse.

But, financial abuse can also happen after leaving a partner. It can be used as a punishment for not staying. In my case, it was punishment for not petitioning for the courts to drop the assault charges against my ex-husband.

During our divorce, he terminated his rights to our son. The court documents show that no money would be provided for child support nor anything related to the precious baby he so loving desired prior to our marriage and his abuse.

This resulted in years of financial instability for me and my son as well as credit issues.

It was a high price to pay for freedom from abuse, but, worth the cost.

According to moneygeek.com, 59% of people’s credit is negatively impacted by their abuser. Also, victims of financial abuse collectively lose a total of 8 million days of paid work each year. The site also shows 70% of domestic violence victims are forbidden to work by their abusers.

By forbidding victims to work, the abuser can keep a tight reign and control the finances. That in turn means the victim is not allowed access to money which would help in escaping or even some semblance to independence.

The National Coalition against domestic violence (NCADV) shows multiple ways abusers exhibit financial abuse. These include:

Employment-related abuse prevents the victim from earning money by:

  • Preventing victim from going to work
  • Sabotaging a victim’s employment
  • Interfering with a victim’s work performance through harassing activities such as frequent phone calls or unannounced visits
  • Demanding that the victim quits her/his job
  • Preventing the victim from looking for jobs or attending job interviews

Also, the organization shows that abusers also prevent victims from accessing existing funds by:

  • Deciding when/how victim can use cash, bank accounts, or credit/debit cards
  • Forcing victim to give abuser money, ATM cards, or credit cards
  • Demanding that the lease/mortgage or assets be in the abuser’s name
  • Using victim’s checkbook, ATM card, or credit/debit cards without the victim’s knowledge
  • Preventing victim’s access to bank account(s)

The NCADV says there can be coerced debt which refers to non-consensual, credit-related transactions in the context of an abusive relationship. Coerced debt destroys the victim’s credit rating, making it difficult for her/him to obtain future loans, rent an apartment and even get a job. Coerced debt includes:

  • Applying for credit cards, obtaining loans, or opening other financial accounts in a victim’s name
  • Forcing victim to obtain loans
  • Forcing victim to sign financial documents
  • Use of threats or physical force to convince victims to make credit-related transactions
  • Refinancing a home mortgage or car loan without a victim’s knowledge

Other forms of economic abuse include:

  • Intentionally withholding necessities such as food, clothing, shelter, personal hygiene products and/or medication
  • Refusing to pay court-ordered child or spousal support
  • Stealing and/or destroying the victim’s belongings
  • Requiring justification for any money spent and punishing the victim with physical, sexual or emotional abuse
  • Repeatedly filing costly lawsuits

Organizations like NCADV offer financial educational information on how to gain freedom from both physical and financial abuse. Go to www.ncadv.org for more resources.