Economic violence

As with other abuse, economic abuse in a close relationship is about exercising power and control over one’s partner. There are many ways to exercise economic oppression. It might involve anything from questioning purchases and checking receipts to being forced to deposit her entire salary into the abuser’s account, so that she has to ask for money to buy anything, or ask for ‘pocket money’. The abuser may have sole control over the bank accounts and hide shared money, or take her money for personal use.

Economic abuse can also involve gaining access to her bank account or Bank ID, taking out loans, or charging things to an invoice in her name. It might involve transferring assets to her or forcing her to sign up for subscriptions, instalment purchases, loans and credit. The abuser might also forge her signature. Economic abuse could also involve forcing the partner to participate in financial crime, such as money laundering, or being a straw man in a company.

Nor is it uncommon for the woman to do unpaid work in the family business, leaving her with no money of her own, and no future pension. Similarly, women commonly earn less and work outside the home less, in order to do more unpaid childcare and housework, which can leave them with few financial resources and result in losing much of their retirement income.

Even after separating, the man may continue to subject the woman to economic abuse. She is often unable to take anything with her from home and must buy everything new. This is a huge expense that can be even harder to handle due to other financial consequences of being subjected to abuse, such as sick leave or no income opportunities.

If there are shared assets, such as a house and car, it may be worth beginning a property division process, but this can take a long time – sometimes several years – if the man does not cooperate. When the man remains in the house, he could destroy the woman’s property and personal possessions. He could also destroy the house, causing the property value to decrease. If the woman’s name is on the mortgage, she is liable for the entire payment, even if he chooses not to pay his share and even if she cannot live in the house. She may therefore have doubled or tripled housing costs for a long period of time. If you need help with the division of property, you can apply to the district court for a property division executor. You must pay for the property division executor yourself. You can also hire a lawyer to represent you in the property division process. You pay for the lawyer that you hire.

Many women find that after a separation, the father does not pay for anything related to the children, such as clothing, haircuts, leisure activities etc. Many single mothers thus become solely responsible for providing for the children. If she is entitled to child support, she might not dare to claim it, because her husband might punish her and/or the children. By continuing to committing abuse against the mother and/or children, the father avoids his responsibility to pay for the children.

Material abuse can be part of economic abuse, but these are not automatically the same things. Material abuse might include breaking furniture and decorations, punching walls and doors, or throwing objects around. This could include breaking, throwing out, or selling her personal possessions, which could have financial or sentimental value. For example: jewellery, diaries, photographs or heirlooms.