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Tough Economic Times = More Domestic Abuse

June 29, 2009

NEW YORK — It's not surprising: Domestic abuse has increased due to tough economic times. However, the abuse has taken a different form, a recent poll has found, such as racking up debt without a partner's knowledge or forbidding a spouse to earn money. And with so many New York families fighting off foreclosure and struggling to stay financially afloat, calls to the Nassau County Coalition of Domestic Violence hotline are up, Coalition spokeswoman Mindy Perlmutter says.

While it's normal for couples to argue about money sometimes, the thing to watch out for is when one partner is trying to control the other with the pocket book, she warns.

"Fighting about money is not abusive per se - it's the power and control one person has over another. That is when it becomes abusive. Are we seeing it more now? Yes, we are - we are seeing a lot more."

"Crisis: Economics and Domestic Violence," a poll taken in May and released last week by the Allstate Foundation, confirms that three out of four Americans think the poor economy has made life more difficult for victims of domestic violence, with nearly half saying the most difficult barrier to leaving an abusive partner is financial security.

Perlmutter says callers to domestic violence help lines often fear leaving an abusive partner because of family finances.

"They say, 'Oh my God, if I leave, what is going to happen to us financially? He's not going to be able to afford this and that, and I'm not going to be able to afford anything.' So in some respects, more people are staying together hoping to protect what they still own."

Perlmutter says someone doesn't have to be physically beaten to be a victim of domestic abuse. She urges anyone in an abusive relationship where their partner is controlling them financially to seek help. In Nassau County, the domestic violence help line is 516-542-0404.

The Allstate Foundation has developed a program to help victims achieve financial independence. It is available at www.ClickToEmpower.org.


Mike Clifford, Public News Service - NY