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Economic Abuse and Domestic Violence

 Posted on May 03, 2016 in Domestic Violence

economic abuse, financial abuse, Naperville family law attorneyWhen most of us think of domestic abuse, we think of one spouse physically or emotionally hurting the other. While physical harm and emotional abuse are two common aspects of domestic violence, there is another aspect that many victims report experiencing; economic abuse. Imagine being unable to help yourself because somebody has control of your finances, or has cut you off completely from financial resources. For many such victims, this is the case. In fact, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV), 94 to 99 percent of domestic violence victims report experiencing some form of economic abuse. Fortunately, help is available.

What Is Economic Abuse?

Economic abuse occurs when an abuser attempts to gain power or control over an individual by limiting access to assets or preventing future earning. The abuser's goal is to limit the victim’s choices by making them dependent on the abuser. This often goes hand-in-hand with physical domestic abuse. The victim is unable to leave, out of fear of harm and lack of financial resources. Economic abuse can take many different forms.

Coerced debt is a common form of economic abuse, and involves an abuser forcing their victim into non-consensual credit-related transactions. Examples of coerced debt include:

  • Opening up credit cards or applying for loans in the victim’s name without their permission or knowledge;
  • Using threats to pressure a victim into signing financial documents;
  • Forcing the victim to take out loans or open up credit cards;
  • Using threats to make the victim make unwanted credit card purchases; and
  • Refinancing a loan or a mortgage without the consent or knowledge of the victim who is signed to the account.

Another frequently used form of economic abuse is preventing a victim from accessing their resources. This can be done by:

  • Limiting how and when the victim can access their resources;
  • Requiring the victim to hand over their personal debit cards, credit cards, and cash to their abuser;
  • Demanding that accounts be switched over to the abuser’s name so the victim can no longer access them; and
  • Using the victim’s resources without their knowledge or consent.

Finally, employment-related abuse is any situation in which an abuser attempts to prevent their victim from earning money through a job. This could include:

  • Forcing the victim to quit their job;
  • Keeping the victim from attending work;
  • Preventing the victim from attending job interviews or searching for sources of income; and
  • Attempting to harass the victim while they are at work.

The NCADV reports that up to 60 percent of domestic violence victims lose their employment due to the abuse. Additionally, domestic violence victims nationwide lose 8 million days of work collectively. While more employers are putting programs in place to help domestic violence victims, hundreds of thousands of victims lose their employment each year as a direct result of their abuse.

What Can Be Done?

Fortunately, for those in Illinois, many protections are in place and available for victims of domestic violence. Specialists advise victims to set aside funds early in their abuse, in anticipation for possible economic abuse in the future. Those funds can be used for later escape if necessary. While there are other actions to take, such as closely monitoring your credit report, and limiting access to your finances, the best step is to remove yourself from any abusive situation.

At Pesce Law Group, P.C., our experienced attorneys work to protect families. If you are a victim of domestic abuse, do not hesitate to seek help. We can provide a discrete consultation for you to learn more about your options. We can provide you a protective order to get you out of harm’s way immediately. Call 630-352-2240 to speak with a qualified Naperville family law attorney today.


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