Revealed: the hidden problem of economic abuse in Australia – The Conversation

Extract from an article by Jozica Kutin, Mike Reid and Roslyn Russell

Only recently have government and family violence services had access to data specifically on economic abuse. We analysed ABS data that identifies, for the first time, the extent of economic abuse in Australia. We established that disability, health status and financial stress were significantly associated with economic abuse, especially for women.

Our research revealed that 15.7% of women and 7.1% of men had experienced economic abuse in their lifetimes. We also found that 63% of women who were experiencing high financial stress and 24% of women with a disability or long-term health condition had a history of economic abuse, compared to the population average of 15.7%.

What is economic abuse?

Economic abuse is a hidden form of intimate partner abuse. Victims are often unaware it is happening – until they are in the process of separation and divorce, or are experiencing severe financial stress. Economic abuse occurs between intimate partners when one controls or manipulates the other person’s access to finances, assets and decision-making to create dependence and control.

It is a powerful abuse tactic, which leaves victims financially incapacitated — a major reason why people don’t leave abusive or violent relationships. Economic abuse is recognised as a form of family violence in law in Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania and the Northern Territory.

Where are the data hiding?

The Australian Bureau of Statistics interviewed 17,050 women and men in Australia in 2012 about their experiences of violence in the community and in their homes. For the first time, data included items that measured economic abuse, but these were hidden in the emotional abuse statistics. The ABS defined economic abuse when a partner..(continues)

SOURCE: Jozica Kutin, Mike Reid and Roslyn Russell, “Revealed: the hidden problem of economic abuse in Australia”, The Conversation, 02 March 2017

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