Braidwood Says No to Violence | Category 5: Financial/Economic Violence

In this educational series we address nine categories of violence that perpetrators use to control, coerce and dominate either an intimate partner (current or previous) or another member of their family.

Domestic violence may occur even without physical abuse. Perpetrators seek to control and dominate family members through fear, manipulation and threats. A person does not need to be physically hit to experience domestic and family violence.

Category 5: Financial Violence

Financial abuse occurs when someone controls an individual's financial resources without the person's consent, or misuses those resources. It involves behaviours aimed at manipulating a person's access to finances, assets and decision-making that would otherwise foster independence and autonomy.

For example, unfairly controlling household money and decisions around its use. A family member who takes or limits money in the household for the purpose of control and domination, is financial abusive. Preventing a family member from seeking or holding employment, and therefore limiting personal sovereignty is an act of financial violence.

Economic abuse has been described as having three dimensions: economic control, economic exploitation and employment sabotage.

Within the financial violence category, the sub-category of elder financial abuse is a growing concern in Australia. In particular, this is defined as the illegal or improper use of an older person's property, finances and other assets without their informed consent, or where consent is obtained it is by fraud, manipulation or duress.

Signs of financial violence may not be easy to spot. If a family member is doing some of the mentioned behaviours below, these could be considered DFV red flags:

  • controls your access to bank accounts or other money.
  • refuses to contribute financially to you or the family.
  • doesn't provide enough money to cover living expenses.
  • taking out loans or running up debts in your name.
  • pressuring you to sign up for a loan.
  • you have to get permission from another person to spend your own money.
  • selling (or threatening to sell) your property without your permission.
  • you are being made to feel like you are incompetent with money.

Financial abuse is often accompanied by anger, verbal abuse, or the threat of violence. As well as losing money, financial abuse can also cause social isolation, depression and anxiety. Financial hardship and dependence represent significant barriers to partners and family members from leaving violent relationships.

If you are experiencing family violence, there is help for you to be safe. There are both public and private resources for help or support. Each week in this column we offer a possible contact point. The Safe Relationships Project provides men and women who are experiencing domestic violence in same sex relationships with support, advocacy, referral and legal information. 1800 244 481.