Financial abuse: The aspect of domestic violence we need to talk about
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As yet another shocking video of domestic violence goes viral, the spotlight falls again on the upward spiral of abuse in South Africa. Not even celebrities are spared from it.
Often what keeps women locked in toxic relationships is their financial dependency on their partner, says John Manyike, Head of Financial Education at Old Mutual.
“It’s common for financial abuse and domestic violence to go hand-in-hand,” he says. “Victims of abuse may feel trapped in abusive relationships because they are financially dependent on their partners. They may be convinced that they lack the means to escape and cope independently.”
UNDERSTANDING FINANCIAL ABUSE:
WHAT IS FINANCIAL ABUSE?
When your partner controls your financial affairs or resources in a way that keeps you totally dependent on him, that is financial abuse.
“Victims of domestic violence often face threats to their wellbeing and barriers to achieving their personal financial independence. Physical, psychological, and economic tactics are used to isolate and control them,” explains Manyike.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF A FINANCIALLY ABUSIVE PARTNER?
- He denies you money to buy essentials like food, rent and medication.
- He forbids you from working or prevents you from holding down a job.
- He denies you access to bank accounts or controls how you spend money.
- He forces you to make illegal transactions like fraudulent payments.
- He runs up large debts in your name or uses your resources against your wishes or without your full consent.
HOW TO DEAL WITH FINANCIAL ABUSE?
- Know your financial situation.
- Save as much as you can in your own private savings account.
- Educate yourself on the basics of money management, including how to draw up and stick to a budget, how to reduce debt and how to plan for your future.
- Seek professional help from counsellors, religious leaders or lawyers.
- Consult a trustworthy financial adviser to help you draw up a financial plan.
- “Women often stay in abusive relationships because they are vulnerable and dependent on their partners financially,” adds Manyike. “Financial education can play a key role in empowering victims of domestic abuse to stand up for themselves. Being financially savvy can give women the courage and means to leave a destructive relationship.
“When you are armed with financial knowledge and understanding, you are more likely to make the kind of decisions that will give you options for an independent future for you and your children.”
Old Mutual offers a comprehensive online financial education programme called On the Money, which provides sensible money tips, including easy ways to develop a savings habit.
“The programme is accredited by Bankseta and NQF aligned,” he says. “By focusing on changing actual behaviour, it helps to break the cycle of generational poverty and focuses on getting people out of debt traps.”
SUPPLIED BY OLD MUTUAL