Content warning: this article discusses the topic of domestic violence. If you’re in an abusive relationship, there are people out there who want to help! You’re not alone. Reach out to the National Domestic Violence Hotline for support. If you fear your computer activity is being monitored, call them at 1-800-799-7233.
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. This is the time, every year, when advocates raise the issue of domestic violence so that more people will be aware of and informed about domestic violence and how it affects countless victims. As a woman, a feminist, a financial coach, and an advocate, this issue is incredibly important to me.
According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 1 in 4 women and 1 in 9 men experience severe intimate partner physical violence, intimate partner contact sexual violence, and/or intimate partner stalking. That means that a quarter of all women will at some point experience abuse from their intimate partner. That is a huge number.
Limited or No Access to Funds
Ninety-eight percent of abusive relationships also involve some sort of financial abuse. That means that money is being used as a weapon against the abused person. This can look like withholding funds, limiting access to accounts, sabotaging the person’s career, and more. The outcome of this abuse is that the victim is completely financially reliant on their abuser. For many women, that means that they don’t have the resources that they need to leave.
Nowhere to Go
Abusers tend to isolate their victims. It might start off looking like they just want to spend time with their partner, but it can escalate to dictating who their victim can or cannot spend time with. Some abusers even move away to further isolate their victim from their support network. Of course, abuse itself can also feel shameful and cause a victim to withdraw from loved ones. This sort of isolation and withdrawal can make a victim of abuse feel like they have nowhere to turn when they decide to leave the relationship. It also might be true that they actually don’t have friends or family to turn to for any variety of reasons. Combined with the potential lack of financial resources, this can make it impossible for victims to leave abusive relationships without facing homelessness.
There Are Children to Care For
Since domestic violence is so prevalent in our society, it goes without saying that there are often children involved. When there are children in the picture, the situation becomes even more complicated. In order to provide and care for their children, victims need financial resources and a safe place to stay. If they have limited access to money and nowhere to go, they are stuck between a rock and a hard place. They can either stay with their children in their abuser’s home or risk taking their children to somewhere like a shelter. This can often feel like an impossible decision to make. Plus, in many cases, the abuser will fight for custody of the children. This can lead to drawn-out, expensive legal battles. If a woman wants to be able to keep her children, sometimes the only way to do that is to stay.
The next time you ask “why didn’t she just leave?” when you hear about a woman in an abusive relationship, I hope you remember that she may have been facing some of the above financial hurdles, in addition to many more emotional and physical hurdles. Domestic violence is dangerous, scary, complicated, and common. Victims of domestic violence don’t need judgment, they need support and understanding.
If you’re in an abusive relationship, there are people out there who want to help! You’re not alone. Reach out to the National Domestic Violence Hotline for support. If you fear your computer activity is being monitored, call them at 1-800-799-7233. You can also reach out to organizations like Purple Purse and the National Network to End Domestic Violence for information and support.
Certified Financial Education Instructor. Feminist and financial coach for women. Founder of Money Circle.