The research by WIRE Women’s Information, ‘Relationship Problems and Money: Women talk about financial abuse’, shows that financial abuse impacts on women’s options for employment and housing, as well as their mental health for years.
WIRE CEO Samiro Douglas said, “We know that financial abuse is a major barrier to women leaving family violence, but we were shocked to find how it continues after they leave. This can make it incredibly difficult for women to create a stable, secure financial situation for themselves, and causes life long economic disadvantage for many women.”
“Thirteen years in court. I have lost my kids’ childhood because all I am doing is sitting at the computer writing legal documents.” [Susan, 53, four children, Melbourne]
Susan is one of over 200 women from a wide range of ages, social and income backgrounds in metro and regional Victoria who shared with WIRE Women’s Information Researcher Prue Cameron, their stories of financial abuse in the context of family violence.
According to researcher Prue Cameron, most of the women who took part in the research inititially didn’t realise they had been financially abused. Although legally recognised as a form of family violence, financial abuse is not well understood and isn’t recognised as a form of abuse, even by the women who are experiencing it.
“A complex web of social beliefs and values, gender stereotypes and cultural expectations hide financial abuse in plain sight,” said Ms Cameron. “Because of this invisibility, it is not identified by the very institutions and professionals there to protect women and children in this situation.”
“There is an urgent need for more information and awareness of financial abuse at a community and at an individual level,” she said. “Women need to be informed of their legal entitlements and supported in dealing with abuse. Lawyers, community workers, bank officers and other professionals need to be educated and informed about financial abuse and be equipped to support clients experiencing that abuse.”
The Victorian Minister for Community Services, Mary Wooldridge, will officially launch the research report and a new information booklet for women ‘Money problems with your partner? Dealing with financial abuse’ on Tuesday 26 August 2014 at the Queen Victoria Women’s Centre.
For hard copies of the report and booklet visit www.wire.org.au to read or download PDF copies.