Economic Violence: More Discreet Than Other Forms, But Still Very Much There

Last updated by Rosie Harlow

A few years ago, I was in a relationship with a man who I’d now describe as toxic. He belittled me, made fun of me and, worst of all, put me in a financial situation that made me dependent on him. At the time, I was too young to understand that this was economic violence. Now I understand what it is, which is why I want to talk about it so that other people don’t end up in the same situation.

Economic Violence: More Discreet Than Other Forms, But Still Very Much There

What is economic violence?

Let’s start at the beginning by defining economic violence. It’s a situation where one person uses the control of financial resources to exert power over another. This can happen in a variety of contexts, at work, and even in society as a whole.

For example, in the case of the latter, this can manifest itself in policies that favor economic inequality, unfair tax laws, or a reduction in certain budgets (I think we’re now slap bang in the middle of it 🤡).

However, even if economic violence can be found on different scales, the most common situation is in a relationship 😥. Indeed, this is often part of other forms of violence, such as psychological, physical, and sexual violence. One partner controls the other person’s access to financial resources, thus limiting their ability to be independent...

Violence against women

Unfortunately, when you’re a woman, you’re much more likely to be affected by this type of violence, not least due to wage inequality. According to an IFOP survey conducted for Les Glorieuses, women who earn less than their partners are twice as likely to be victims of domestic economic violence.

Indeed, 27% of women whose partner earns more than they do, have already experienced at least one form of economic violence from their partner, compared with 14% of women whose income is equivalent to that of their partner.

What’s more, as T.K. Logan, a behavioral science professor, and domestic violence expert, explains, economic violence is often less recognized than other forms of domestic violence because it’s less visible and often rooted in cultural and social norms about the role of men and women in household finances 😣. Economic violence is therefore part of the problem of a patriarchal society. It’s a systemic problem, indeed, according to the IFOP survey, one in three women who’s been a victim of economic violence has also suffered domestic violence...

⚠️ This article can help you spot domestic violence: 10 Examples of passive-aggressive behavior

Some examples of economic violence

Now that we know that we’re more affected by economic violence as women, we need to learn how to spot it. Here are a few examples that should be taken as red flags:

  • 🚩 He/she insists on going 50/50 even though he/she earns more,
  • 🚩 He/she spends more on personal needs than on those of the couple,
  • 🚩 He/she insists on having the bills be in your name,
  • 🚩 He/she discourages you from investing,
  • 🚩 He/she won’t offer to compensate you for something he/she has broken,
  • 🚩 He/she forbids you from having a personal bank account,
  • 🚩 He/she doesn’t allow you access to the accounts,
  • 🚩 He/she gives you an allowance (or a budget) for your expenses,
  • 🚩 He/she discourages or forbids you from having a job,
  • 🚩 He/she takes out a loan / runs up debts in your name,
  • etc.

Unfortunately, there are other examples, in particular linked to alimony. In fact, we need to identify all behaviors that aim to create financial dependence and limit the freedom and autonomy of the other partner. As Adrienne Adams, professor of psychology at Michigan State University and a specialist in domestic violence, explains:

“Economic violence is a very effective control strategy because it limits victims’ options and reinforces their dependence on the abuser.”

So you’re therefore trapped in an abusive relationship, it’s typical behavior of a narcissistic pervert 😥...

How can you avoid economic violence in a relationship?

You can’t change a person who inflicts economic violence on you, because generally there are other forms of violence that go along with it 😔. The best thing is therefore to break out of the emotional and financial codependency by leaving them and finding help from those around you.

Unhappy couple

99% of victims of domestic economic violence have also suffered other forms of domestic violence (Ifop poll)

I know it’s very difficult to leave a toxic relationship, as I’ve been there myself. However, leaving a narcissistic pervert is the best way to regain your freedom and economic power. On the other hand, you can avert economic violence when you get into a new relationship. My best advice is to maintain your financial independence so that you don’t get caught up in a relationship that you can’t leave because you’ve got no money. Ladies, keep your job, keep your personal bank account and fight to reduce wage inequality 💪.

You can also raise awareness by talking about this type of violence. Talk about it with your friends and family, and share this article to help people understand the problems associated with economic violence. The more informed you are, the more likely you are to avoid this kind of situation.

Editor’s note: Dare to speak out!

Breaking the chains of economic violence is an act of courage and self-assertion. If you feel the weight of this violence in your life, don’t wait to seek help. Making an appointment with a psychologist can be the first step towards regaining your financial and emotional autonomy. You deserve a life free of constraints and full of opportunities. Dare to speak out, dare to act, and above all, dare to be yourself, fully and freely.

🤗 Understanding yourself, accepting yourself, being happy... It’s here and now!


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Article presented by Rosie Harlow

Writing has always been a form of therapy for me. For as long as I can remember, I have always used paper as a punching bag. Get to know me, I am Rosie Harlow.

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