Credit crunch exploited by abusive partners

// 16 September 2009

The recession is making it harder for women to leave abusive partners, according to Women’s Aid

(in Ireland?).

The PA story draws attention to ways that abusers have been using money and control over finances to make life harder for their victims, and keep them trapped:

More than 15,000 women called the Women’s Aid helpline last year suffering from physical, emotional, sexual and financial abuse at the hands of a partner. And the support group warned that controlling boyfriends and husbands were making life even harder by withholding and threatening to withhold money.

Margaret Martin, Women’s Aid director, said vulnerable women were trapped amid fears of increased poverty, losing their home and the effect it would have on their children. “Domestic violence is a huge problem within Irish society,” she said. “This year we are particularly concerned about the impact of the recession on women experiencing domestic violence from their boyfriends, husbands and partners.”

Photo by enigmatic, shared on Flickr under a Creative Commons license

Comments From You

Jackie Bather // Posted 16 September 2009 at 3:04 pm

The controlling of money and limiting women’s access to the family income, is one of the ways that abusive men also control women. Along with violence and restricting the ability of partners/wives to have interests outside the home, it is a well-documented method of abuse.I realise that the article seems to apply to the Irish community specifically, but this behaviour can be found everywhere.

jo // Posted 16 September 2009 at 9:41 pm

The worry of losing a home and downgrading childrens lifestyles has always kept women in abusive relationships. I ended an abusive marriage and my solicitor and I applied for legal aid towards the divorce costs. I earned about £22000 per year at the time and had two children under school age in full time childcare. I had to fill in an income and expenditure form. one section asked about weekly childcare costs and I duly filled it in at £300. They wrote back refusing to offer any funding and said they were assuming that £300 was a monthly amount. When we wrote back explaining it was weekly they worte back again with this gem “your monthly income is -£536 per month, therefore you do not qualify for legal aid”. Apparently it matters not how many children you have or how much they cost if you earn over a certain amount (less than national average wage) you don’t qualify. I was recieving no maintenance from him and the total costs of the divorce were in the region of £10000. If my family hadn’t helped I would have had to leave work or take him back.

I think often how many women who earn modest incomes, struggling with children, have to borrow and beg to leave a violent partner. I was lucky because I was able to get help from family and could borrow from the bank. And to think how much domestic violence costs the economy (weeks off work to hide bruises, etc…) let alone the human misery. It’s sick.

Daniela Vincenti // Posted 17 September 2009 at 1:28 pm

Dear Jess,

I think this blog touches on one of the most important issues in contemporary feminism.

It is still very much the norm that women find themselves having to leave paid work for some time after childbirth and become financially dependent on their partners. This often leaves them in a situation where they are depending on their partner’s decency in order to have access to a fair share of the money that is coming into the household.

It is important for a woman who is contemplating making sacrifices to her career that will probably have lifelong implications (for example pension) to discuss the issue openly and clearly with her partner. If she has to give up her job to look after small children then it is totally justified for her to demand a fair share of the residual household disposable income to spend as she wishes. If she is not married then she also has to keep in mind that there are very few legal safeguards to protect her and if the relationship dissolves she will often get no compensation for all the sacrifices she has made.

Ideally we should be moving towards a society where both partners contribute equally to childrearing, housekeeping and paid employment. I think this would benefit both parties but in the meantime everyone has to make the choices that suit best his particular circumstances whilst keeping in mind all the implications.

Polly // Posted 17 September 2009 at 7:45 pm

I agree with Daniela Vincenti that everyone should be aware of their legal rights when married/cohabiting and that unfortunately they often aren’t – there is a strong case surely for teaching this kind of information in schools.

However I also think that there needs to be much greater provision of social housing and proper benefits for anyone who is caring for children full time because it IS work. The crazy state of the housing market in the UK is largely due to a shortage of affordable rented housing. Women (or men) shouldn’t be in a situation where they are financially unable to leave a partner, and will be homeless if they do.

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