NORTHBROOK, Ill., April 7, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Financial abuse is a tactic used by abusers in ninety-eight percent of domestic violence situations and its effects are often life-altering. However, in a recent survey from The Allstate Foundation, just three percent of Americans ranked financial abuse as most likely to cause long-term effects, far behind emotional (43 percent) and physical abuse (22 percent).
Financial abuse is in fact devastating for women. It is the number one reason why women stay in or return to abusive relationships. It is common for abusers to destroy victims' credit, deny them access to money, and force them to quit their jobs or to decline promotions. Without resources of their own, victims are often unable to care for themselves, find employment and housing, or save for the future. Those who manage to leave their abusers can find themselves debt-ridden, lacking necessary job skills, and even at risk for homelessness.
The national survey, Silent Weapon, polled 1,220 American adults age 18+ about domestic violence and financial abuse. Additional survey data finds that Americans are not well-informed on the issue:
- More than 40 percent say they don't understand financial abuse.
- Two percent ranked financial abuse as the least common form of abuse.
- Only 13 percent believe that financial abuse can happen to people they know.
- Four percent believe that financial abuse harms victims' children.
"Any woman can become a victim of financial abuse, regardless of economic or social status," said John Rugel, senior vice president, life customer fulfillment and underwriting at Allstate. "It's incredibly important that we are aware of the significant challenges that face women in abusive relationships, and that we create a culture where women feel safe to come forward and get help."
"Financial abuse is devastatingly effective because it's often not illegal, and it is an invisible tactic of domestic violence," added Kim Pentico, director of economic justice programs, National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV). "Women literally don't have money for cab fare, to buy food and other necessities of life, often forcing them to choose between homelessness and being battered. It is a profoundly powerless situation for these women."
An abuser may deny a victim access to money and financial resources throughout the course of a relationship or when the victim attempts to leave. He may use one or more of the following common tactics:
- Control the victim's paychecks, credit cards and bank accounts.
- Determine how the victim's money is spent.
- Destroy the victim's credit rating by using her credit cards without permission, filing financial contracts (lease, credit cards, utilities, etc.) in her name or failing to make timely payments.
- Force her to turn over retirement benefits.
- Control all property decisions.
- Decide where the victim works or prevent the victim from employment or promotion.
It can take years for women to recover financially. Getting assistance is a critical first step to helping women reclaim their lives:
- The National Domestic Violence Hotline is available 24/7 at 1.800.799.SAFE (7233).
- The Moving Ahead Through Financial Management curriculum developed by The Allstate Foundation and National Network to End Domestic Violence is available for free to domestic violence victims. The curriculum helps victims untangle financial relationships with their abusive partners, work through past misuse of financial records and address safety concerns. To learn more, visit www.clicktoempower.org.
About The Allstate Foundation:
Established in 1952, The Allstate Foundation is an independent, charitable organization made possible by subsidiaries of The Allstate Corporation (NYSE: ALL). Through partnerships with nonprofit organizations across the country, The Allstate Foundation brings the relationships, reputation and resources of Allstate to support innovative and lasting solutions that enhance people's well-being and prosperity. With a focus on building financial independence for domestic violence survivors, empowering youth and celebrating the charitable community involvement of Allstate agency owners and employees, The Allstate Foundation works to bring out the good in people's lives. For more information, visit www.AllstateFoundation.org.
SOURCE The Allstate Foundation