Financial Literacy and Domestic Violence

Jim Stigman Domestic Abuse and Financial LiteracyDomestic violence is not a new problem. Around the world, domestic violence has resulted in uncountable injuries, both physical and mental, and deaths. Thankfully, recently it seems there has been an undeniable surge in the interest in this topic. Following a vicious beating by former Ravens running back Ray Rice, the NFL began actively campaigning against domestic violence, releasing advertisements and discussing the topic openly in press conferences. This led to a larger outpouring of support for victims and survivors of domestic violence. The support came in many ways, but one of the most important, was through financial education opportunities.

One element of abuse that is often overlooked is financial abuse. Often, an abusive spouse or partner withholds funds, denies the other partner opportunities to work, or even steals the other partners identity and intentionally ruins their credit. These tactics work to ensure the abused does not feel comfortable ever leaving as they are now entirely dependent on the abuser. These abhorrent tactics rely almost entirely on a lack of financial education. If the abused knew how to handle their finances, they could use strategies to secret away money or take control of accounts when they have the courage to leave.

Financial education is helpful for survivors as well. Many survivors claim one of the reasons they stayed in an abusive relationship was because they were scared to be out in the world on their own financially speaking. They had concerns that they did not know how to handle money and would end up homeless or worse. They saw the abusive relationship as at least better than those horrible alternatives.

To help these survivors and people currently abused, I have posted a list of tips here:

  • Attempt to save money in your own name whenever possible. If necessary, save it under a friend’s address as it will be more difficult for the abuser to find it.
  • Keep track of all the necessary details about your financial life, for example, account numbers, bank statements, retirement funds, etc. Store these in a safe place and try to protect them from the abuser.
  • When leaving, attempt to take at least half of the money stored in joint accounts and transfer it to an account controlled only by you or take it in cash so that the abuser cannot drain the account and deny you access to funds that are rightfully yours.

These tips are helpful, of course, but if you know anyone in need of help, please refer them to http://www.clicktoempower.org/, a site dedicated to helping victims and survivors of domestic abuse improve their financial knowledge. They have much more information there that can help. With education, we can help victims escape, survivors flourish, and even prevent future abuse.