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WI Abusers Using a New Weapon: the Checkbook

June 29, 2009

MADISON, Wis. – In a domestic abuse situation, the checkbook can be a very potent agent of control. And as the economy in Wisconsin continues to suffer, that economic weapon can become an even bigger threat to a partner trapped in an abusive situation, according to Tony Gibart, policy coordinator at the Wisconsin Coalition Against Domestic Violence. He says such financial abuse runs the gamut from taking money to destroying someone's credit rating.

"Abusers and perpetrators look for any means they can to exert that control."

Gibart says there are well-known markers for violence in relationships, and economic abuse is one of them.

"Financial abuse or financial control; it goes hand-in-hand with physical abuse."

Gibart says keeping someone as a "financial prisoner" is an example of the way an abuser exerts control.

"Victims are often threatened if they try to find a job or gain economic independence. That can often increase the level of violence and threats."

New research from the Allstate Foundation indicates that 70 percent of Americans know people who are, or have been, victims of domestic violence... but by nearly the same percentage, Americans fail to see a connection between domestic violence and economic abuse. Gibart says economic abuse victims need to seek out an agency that can help free them from the situation.

Help from the Allstate Foundation can be found at www.clicktoempower.org

Glen Gardner, Public News Service - WI