Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Does the Economy Cause Domestic Violence?

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)
Hope House is one of the shelters that have seen an increase in the numbers of people seeking services. We are seeing the impact of the economy in the length of time people are staying in shelter. People are staying longer, because it’s more difficult to secure employment, get bills paid and access services from other agencies that are at capacity due to their own diminished resources.

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.


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. it's an important topic and to many reporters are talking about it but there are other forms of abuse have the potential to lead to mental illness, self-harm, and even attempts at suicide.