I have been asked many times in the past months how the economy has affected domestic violence. Does the economy cause domestic violence? What is economic abuse? I thought I would take this opportunity to provide more information about those issues.
Domestic violence is a pattern of controlling behaviors used by one partner to maintain power and control over his partner. Economic abuse is using economics/money to maintain that power and control.
Examples of how this is done include:
- Controlling finances
- withholding money or credit cards
- ruining credit ratings
- requiring an accounting of money that is spent and punishment if not spent on things the abuser approves
- preventing the partner from working or causing them to lose their job
- withholding necessities such as food, clothing and medication
- stealing from their partner or using their personal identification fraudulently
Does the bad economy cause domestic violence? The answer is “no”. However, it doesn’t help in situations where there is already abuse present. Economic stresses often lead to more frequent and more violent abuse when domestic violence is already present. It also creates more barriers to a woman’s ability to flee the situation.
- Domestic violence is three times as likely to occur when couples are experiencing high levels of financial strain as when they are experiencing low levels of financial strain.
- Women whose male partners experience two or more periods of unemployment over a 5-year study were almost three times as likely to be victims of intimate violence as were women whose partners were in stable jobs.
- Three out of four domestic violence shelters report an increase in women seeking assistance from abuse since September 2008 (NNEDV, Impact of the economy on domestic violence)
We are seeing more people in our outreach programs and have a waiting list that is longer than any time in our history. We turned away more than we served in shelter last fiscal year.
The struggle for
Hope House is to find the balance between the increase in the demand for services coupled with decreases in our funding. We are doing more with less but will continue to work to provide the absolute best service for our clients, while we work to increase our resources.