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Media release: Financial abuse – the hidden face of family violence (28/2)

28 Feb 2014  For immediate release

Financial abuse: the hidden face of family violence.

“He controlled all the money. I had to show him receipts for every cent I spent.”
“I trusted him to manage all our money, now I’m left with all his debts.”
“When we got married, I had a job, a car and I was saving up to buy a house. The marriage is over and I’ve got nothing.”
“We were both on good salaries, but we never seemed to have enough money. I kept wondering where all the money was going.”

Many women reading these statements will recognise their own situation. Most of them will not see these behaviours as financial abuse. Despite financial abuse being included in Victorian family violence law since 2008, there is very little public awareness or understanding of this issue.

According to researcher Prue Cameron from WIRE Women’s Information, women of all ages from all walks of life, social and cultural backgrounds are affected by financial abuse, where intimate partners use money and financial issues to exert power and control over their spouse. There are often serious long term financial consequences for these women and their children.

“Financial abuse can take many different forms. A partner may control all the household finances and assets and prevent the woman from accessing a bank account or credit card. They may accrue debts in the woman’s name or simply keep their finances a secret from her. Stopping a woman from studying or working is another form of financial abuse.

“Women leaving financially abusive relationships have often had no control of their financial affairs for many years. They end up with very little money and then really struggle to pay for the legal costs to get a fair property settlement,” Ms Cameron said.

“For women living in rural communities, the difficulties in dealing with financial abuse are compounded by factors such as distance and isolation from support, lack of confidentiality in small communities, greater adherence to gender roles, and the complexities of living on a family farm with multiple intergenerational family members, as well as limited support services, including legal services. The risks of violence are also greater in rural settings, with use of weapons far more common than in the city,” Ms Cameron said.

“Our research shows that the abuse continues after separation, as ex-partners commonly drag out legal proceedings over many years to exhaust a woman’s financial resources, or simply to refuse to contribute to child care costs or pay child support,” Ms Cameron said.

WIRE, a not for profit women’s service, is conducting research into the extent, nature and impact of financial abuse on women in Victoria. It will identify the most useful information and support, as well as the barriers women face in accessing a fair financial outcome after separation.

One in three women in Australia experience family violence in their lifetime. Financial abuse occurs in at least 50 per cent(i) of family violence cases – based on this conservative estimate, around 1.86 million Australian women have experienced financial abuse.

WIRE is holding focus groups across regional Victoria in March and April for women who have experienced financial abuse. More than 30 women have attended focus group sessions in Melbourne so far. Focus groups will be held in Bendigo on 6 March, Wangaratta on 18 March, Geelong on 21 March and Morwell in April. Light refreshments will be provided and participants will receive a $30 voucher.

For details, visit www.wire.org.au/shareyourstory/ or call WIRE researcher Prue Cameron 9348 9416 (option 9) or email researcher@wire.org.au to register.
A confidential online survey will also be available later in March for women who want to share their experiences.

(i) Corrie, T & McGuire M (2013) Economic Abuse: Searching for Solutions Good Shepherd Youth & Family Service and Uniting Care Kildonan, North Collingwood

INTERVIEW: WIRE Researcher Prue Cameron 0447 017 089 researcher@wire.org.au

MEDIA QUERIES: Communication Coordinator Mi Fon Lew 9348 9416 (option5) communication@wire.org.au

Download Media Release_ Financial abuse – the hidden face of family violence (28Feb2014)

 

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