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Study: Abusers Control Their Partners Through the Pocketbook

July 7, 2009

PEMBROKE PINES, Fla. - While most Americans know people who are, or have been, victims of domestic abuse, we don't always see a connection between domestic abuse and "economic abuse," according to a new study by the Allstate Foundation. But experts say that if your partner refuses to let you get a job, racks up debt without your knowledge, or controls all the household money, it is a warning sign of economic abuse, and it is a form of domestic abuse.

Katherine Campbell, a member of the National Association of Social Workers who is in private practice, says couples do argue about money sometimes. That's normal: the thing to watch out for is one partner trying to use the pocketbook to control the other.

"It's not always about the punch in the face; domestic violence is also about the way the abuser controls the person being abused, and finances is a big way abusers control their victims."

With so many Florida families fighting off foreclosure and struggling to stay afloat financially, Campbell says calls to shelters are up, and moving into an apartment requires more money than many women have.

"To leave an abusive relationship you have to have the tools to do so, and that's a lot of money they may not be able to get together, especially if their abuser is controlling the money."

Campbell says you don't have to be beaten to be a victim of domestic abuse, and if you are in an abusive relationship where your partner is controlling you financially, you should seek help. She says the good news is there is a way out, and social workers can help.

"Domestic violence is not something anybody deserves. Social workers can help women see when a situation moves from arguing to abusive, then assist them in developing ways they can stay safe."

A poll found that nearly half the respondents said that one of the biggest barriers to getting out of abusive relationships is lack of financial security. Most people believe these tough economic times have made things tougher for victims, and Campbell says economic downturns increase both the severity and the frequency of all kinds of abuse.

The Allstate Foundation has developed an on-line program to help victims achieve financial independence at
www.clicktoempower.org and the National Association of Social Workers has a Web site at www.helpstartshere.org

Gina Presson , Public News Service - FL