Financialabuse is any abuse involving money and can be perpetrated by an individual oran organization. Financial abuse is theforcible controlling of a person’s finances in one way or another.Financialabuse is a form of abuse that often goes hand in hand with other abuses.
Financial abuse is often part of domesticabuse, keeping the victim unemployed is a way of controlling the victim andpreventing her from being able to escape the abusive relationship. It is also a common form of elder abuse. Anyone who is frail, sick, institutionalizedor unable to handle their own finances is vulnerable to financial abuse. Financial abuse is often part of emotionaland psychological abuse. It is even aform of bullying and is often the result of drug or alcohol addictions.Factstell us that domestic violence affects one in four women in her lifetime – thatis more women than breast cancer, ovarian cancer and lung cancer combined. Financial abuse happens in 99% of alldomestic violence cases and is the number one reason domestic violencesurvivors stay or return to an abusive relationship.
Leaving is not easy. It involves many internal and externalfactors involving a complicated mixture of psychological, cultural, religious,familial and financial factors. Physicalabuse leaves bruises and scars while financial abuse is invisible and trapsvictims. So where do we turn to stop thespread of this “cancer” that is affecting so many of our citizens? Amongthe conversations on how the public perceives domestic violence, a surveycommissioned by the Allstate Foundation, called Silent Weapon: DomesticViolence and Financial Abuse explored how financial abuse in relationship todomestic violence ranks as a national problem.
The survey found that three infive Americans know someone who has been the victim of abuse and more than onein four have been abused themselves. Thesurvey discovered that there seems to be limited public understanding of theissues. Financial abuse is seen as theleast common form of abuse and the least likely to cause lasting negativeeffects for the survivor. Mostacknowledged that they would not recognize the signs if a friend is beingabused or what to do to help the friend.Consideringthese perceptions and given the data collected from the survey that shows 8 in10 (78%) of Americans have not heard about financial abuse as it relates todomestic violence, it is obvious that there is a lack of education, a causethat while time consuming and expensive, is reversible.Becauseabuse often happens behind closed doors, we must understand the statistics thatshow us just how many people are affected.
While domestic violence can be devastating to families, the effect oncommunities runs much deeper. Accordingto the U.S.
Department of Justice, “domestic violence affects us all and coststhe U.S. economy more than 8.3 billion dollars each year, is the leading causeof family homelessness, and is the single largest category of calls received bylocal police.””Domestic violence kills an average of three women a day and is theleading cause of injury for women ages 18-44.” While survivor requests for help go up, staffing and budgets forservices go down with more than 12,000 pleas for assistance going unmet in 2015alone. Domestic violence isconsidered a significant problem for the country.”Thenthere is the train wreak at the end of the line that involves a mere 3 millionchildren witnessing domestic violence each year which delays academic success,causes behavioral issues, delinquencies and substance abuse, and increases thelikelihood that a boy will grow up to be an abuser and a girl will become avictim of violence.
If we were to intervene and begin educating people starting with theyoungest and most vulnerable, while at the same time, educating women on how tobe financially self-sufficient, and educate the general public that “YesVirginia, Domestic violence is real!” Then perhaps all will eventually meet in the middle and we can have asociety where any abuse toward any person will not be tolerated. We cannot fix what we don’t know so education is key. We can makechanges and we must start now.
Just likead campaigns that flood the market with “just say no” slogans, a movement toeducate the masses on the causes and effects of domestic violence would createa movement where solutions begin to surface and the education movement begins. The Allstate Foundation Purple Purse is aimed at creating along-term safety and security for survivors of financial abuse throughempowerment. It is making the invisiblevisible and since 2005 has been bringing financial abuse out of the shadows sovictims get the healing and support they so deserve by igniting fundraising forhundreds of national, state and local domestic violence organizations.
These funds support financial empowermentservices to help survivors build safer lives for themselves and theirfamilies. The Allstate Foundation has set more that 1 million victimson the path of safety and security, investing more than $55 million, empoweringwomen to break free from abuse through a series of curriculums titled “MovingAhead Through Financial Management.”v Financial Empowerment Curriculum: “The Allstate Foundation’s Moving Ahead Through Financial Management curriculum is acomprehensive package of tools and information designed to empower victims tobe self-sufficient with their finances.
The curriculum includes the followingcomponents:ü Strategiesfor addressing the complex financial and safety challenges of ending arelationship with an abusive partner.ü Informationon how to protect personal and financial safety in an abusive relationship andafter leaving an abusive relationship.ü Methodsfor dealing with the misuse of financial records.
ü Tools tohelp people of all incomes and earning power work toward long-term financialempowerment, including budgeting tools, step-by-step planners and more.vWe canstart by downloading a copy of the MovingAhead Through Financial Management curriculum to an eReader or tablet,iBooks, or PDF. The downloadablecurriculum materials are available free of cost.
” v AsAdvocates we can take the OnlineFinancial Curriculum: “The Allstate Foundation has adapted its hard copy Moving Ahead Through FinancialManagement curriculum materials into a web-based version that can be watched,listened to and learned from. Survivorscan watch the Moving Ahead curriculum sections that meet their specific needsor take the time to view the whole series. Building survivors personalfinancial management skills helps build their independence.Module 1: SurvivingFinancial AbuseModule 2: LearningFinancial BasicsModule 3: BudgetingYour MoneyModule 4: Saving andInvestingModule 5:Understanding Your CreditModule 6: RepairingYour CreditModule 7: Renting anApartmentModule 8: ApplyingFor LoansModule 9: Buying aHomeModule 10: Buying aCarModule 11:Understanding InsuranceModule 12: Buildinga Future” v Asadvocates we should become familiar with the Career Empowerment Curriculum: “The Career Empowerment Curriculumwas designed by Women Employed and The Allstate Foundation particularly forsurvivors of domestic violence. The curriculum helps survivors feel safe andconfident throughout the process of getting a job, to help survivors elevatetheir thinking from “just getting a job” to “starting a career” and to do so ina way that fully acknowledges the particular challenges that survivors oftenface.
The curriculum refers to many different career types, such as blue collarand white collar, and is relevant for survivors with any skill set.” Thecurriculum covers five key topics:1. Being Safe During the Job Searchand at Work2. Choosing and Planning for theCareer You Want3.
Getting Started in Your Career4. Preparing for Your Job Search5. Sharing Information andCommunicating throughout the Job Search and at Work”On one hand, financial abuse is easy to understand,in that it removes money from a rightful owner by unfair means. On the other hand, as with all abuses, thereare emotional and other issues that help cloud the situation making itdifficult for victims to see what is happening to them. If the victim is already browbeaten andconfused, she may be unable to recognize the abuse. Women who are financially abused are often unableto see that what is happening to them is actually abuse. No one wants to believe that the person theylove is capable of financially abusing them or perhaps they are too frightenedto stand up to the abuser.
The trick is to get survivors to see the need forthis empowerment instead of relying on public assistance. The system that was created to assist peoplein need has become a way of life and generational. However, public assistance is not the evilhere… lack is the enemy. Lack ofself-esteem, self-worth, education, finances…The list is long and particular toeach individual survivor. As partof an empowerment program it would be an advantage for survivors to have the abilityto take these classes online and receive certification of completion.
Nothing is more empowering than taking on achallenge and seeing it to completion.Outreachprograms for children and teens are a good way to help get the word out. Schools, churches and community organizationsare also a resource to educate and support survivors. We as advocates need to find ways to educatethese resources and incorporate them into a larger education program. Grantsand other funding can assist in covering the costs of educating themasses. Talking to legislators, workingwith national organizations, talking with friends and family. Reaching out to anyone that will listen andthose with a passion to solve these issues. Ignoranceis not bliss! The curefor ignorance is Education, Education, and more Education.