We can all see a bruised arm, black eyes, broken bones, but there are many more invisible actions carried out by an abuser.
Financial abuse is one of the biggest invisible types of abuse and is used to control 99% of victims of domestic violence.
Women's rights advocate and tennis star Serena Williams is making it her personal mission to raise awareness on this subject.
Williams is quoted as saying
"In the U.S. one in four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime and in almost every case, financial abuse also occurs." "Every time I say this statistic out loud it shocks me, that one woman could be a friend, a family member, a colleague. We have to do better and get those numbers down."
"One of the most invisible forms of domestic violence is financial abuse," "Abusers use finances as a weapon that keeps victims trapped in toxic and dangerous relationships," Williams said. There are many forms of abuse used in domestic violence, the one unifying across the board is using money to manipulate the situation to the abuser's needs.
Common ones are restricting access to money, handing out small amounts of money, and demanding proof of what the money has been spent on i.e. groceries.
Destroying the victim's credit by obtaining loans and not making the repayments, forging the victim's signature, all of which makes it harder for the victim to leave the relationship as they have no recourse to obtain money.
3 major signs of financial abuse:
Financial abuse is a hard one for outsiders to spot, bruises can be seen, financial abuse cannot.
If your partner or someone you know is showing the following behaviors then it is likely you or someone you know is being financially abused.
Limiting access to money or controlling your spending
Escaping a toxic relationship is extremely difficult to do, so to then have no recourse to money makes it almost impossible to do.
Money is a safety net for victims, it's a way out and when the way out is removed, they feel even more trapped than before.
Typical actions by the abuser will be to make their victim hand over their paychecks, and online passwords to their banking accounts. This gives the abuser total control over the finances, they will notice even the smallest amounts being squirreled away as part of an escape plan.
Interfering with your job
A huge one and more common than you think. The abuser will make it difficult for their victim to hold down a job.
They may turn up where their victim works and cause trouble, which could result in your dismissal and impact any future references.
They may take away a car or damage the car making it impossible to get to work and fail to turn up home to look after the children whilst the victim works, so they fail to show up for work or let their employer down at short notice, which again results in dismissal and bad future referencing.
Ruining your credit
This one has the most long-term damage of the three.
It makes it nearly impossible for the victim once they have managed to escape to do something as simple as renting an apartment, as you won't qualify with bad debts.
If the victim has been subjected to this, it is absolutely vital that this is raised legally through the courts, so that it can be shown it was not the victim who obtained the loan, ran up credit card debts, and then simply did not pay.
Work with the loan/credit card companies, send them the court evidence, even ask for a representative from those companies to appear in court. It is a tough enough time already without being saddled with your abusers' debts.