When it comes to domestic violence in Australia, people automatically think of black eyes and broken bones.
While in many cases these things are a huge part of the story, what people often don't consider is financial abuse, something that can affect you for the rest of your life. That is, even after you've left an abusive relationship. It's a real concern that is completely foreign to many people.
Financial abuse includes cutting off (or at least restricting) access to bank accounts, providing an insufficient allowance, accumulating debt on someone else's credit card, not being allowed to have any say in any household financial decision-making, deliberately ruining someone's credit score, having your spending tracked, not being allowed to work and have financial independence, and identity theft for the purpose of financial gain.
This is just the tip of the iceberg... financial abuse can look very different from relationship to relationship. So what's the common thread in all these situations?
Devastating, and often lifelong, financial strain.
Quite often, people who have experienced financial abuse cannot get finance (loans or credit cards) in the future, they might not be able to secure a rental property, they might have insurmountable amounts of debt left in their name, they might have assets repossessed, they might even face a bankruptcy situation through no fault of their own. Many survivors of financial abuse end up homeless.
Financial abuse is rampant in today's society. It's up to us to make a stand and bring this issue into the light.
If you feel you need support you can reach out to me at She Counselling. My services are available face to face and online. Alternatively you can call the NSW Domestic Violence Line on 1800 656 463.
- Erica is a women's health counsellor in private practice in the Southern Highlands of New South Wales. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org, on 0412 707 242 or via socials @shecounselling.