In today’s society, where the complexity of interpersonal relationships is increasing, there is growing attention to the subtle but potentially destructive forms of violence that can occur in partner relationships. Economic abuse, an often-overlooked variant of domestic violence, poses a significant threat to the emotional and financial well-being of individuals.

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Economic violence can manifest itself in a variety of ways, from controlling access to finances, to imposing restrictions on financial decision-making, to preventing a partner’s professional development. The effects of this form of violence can be profoundly negative, leading to financial dependence, lowered self-esteem and permanent damage to mental health.

“Economic violence is a silent and invisible form of enslavement in a relationship, where control over finances becomes a tool of manipulation and domination.”

However, there are ways to address economic violence in relationships and support victims in their liberation process. What are the most common mechanisms of economic violence in relationships and what practical steps can be taken to negate its negative effects and promote healthy partnerships based on mutual respect, equality and cooperation?

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What is economic violence?

Economic violence in a relationship is a form of domestic violence that involves using financial control to gain power and control over a partner or other family members. It can manifest itself in many different ways, both subtle and overt. Here are some examples:

  • Financial control: the partner controls all finances, limiting access to joint cash or individual earnings. This can include taking away a credit card, placing restrictions on access to a bank account, or imposing a strict budget.
  • Forced financial dependence: The partner takes steps to prevent the other person from earning their own money or advancing their career. This can include threats, sabotaging attempts at employment or manipulating the financial situation so that the other party is dependent on him.
  • Humiliation due to material situation: The partner uses the other person’s material situation as a tool for emotional manipulation. This can include ridiculing or demeaning a partner because of their earnings, financial instability or inability to provide an adequate standard of living.
  • Denying financial support: The partner refuses to provide financial support in situations where it is needed, such as for health care, education or the provision of basic needs.
What is economic violence
Photo: Depositphotos

“Lack of access to one’s own financial resources can be a prison without bars, where the victim of economic violence loses not only his or her independence, but also his or her self-esteem.”

Economic violence can have serious consequences for the victim, leading to financial dependence, reduced personal freedom, lowered self-esteem and permanent damage to mental health. This is a problem that is often underestimated or overlooked, so it is important to understand its nature and effects, and to work to prevent and support those affected by this form of violence.

Causes of economic violence

The reasons for economic violence in a relationship can be varied and complex, and often stem from a combination of personal, social and cultural factors. Here are some of the main reasons:

  • Control and power: One of the main reasons for using economic violence is the desire to maintain control and power over a partner. A violent person may use control of finances as a tool for manipulation and subjugation of the partner, which allows him to maintain a dominant position in the relationship.
  • Jealousy and possessiveness: An economically violent person may act out of a motivation of jealousy or possessiveness, seeking to control a partner by limiting their access to money or financial independence. This is usually due to unhealthy behavior patterns or lack of trust in the relationship.
  • Low self-esteem: Economic abusers may suffer from low self-esteem or self-esteem problems. Using control of finances, they may try to increase their sense of worth by exerting power over their partner and getting confirmation of their importance.
  • Takeover: Economic violence can also be caused by an attempt by someone who feels threatened or unhappy with the current situation to take control of the relationship. Instead of talking about her concerns or needs, she may use economic violence as a way to impose her will on her partner.
  • Cultural and social patterns: In some societies and cultures, there are established patterns of behavior that can promote control and dominance in partner relationships. People raised in such environments may be more likely to use economic violence as an accepted means of resolving conflicts or expressing power.

It is important to remember that each case of economic violence is unique and may have its own deeper causes. In each case, it is important to understand the context and work to identify and solve the problems leading to the use of this form of violence.

“Economic violence is not just about not having access to money, it’s also about controlling every penny your partner spends, leading to a loss of autonomy and self-reliance.”
Causes of economic violence
Photo: Depositphotos

How to prevent economic violence in a relationship?

Preventing and dealing with economic violence in a relationship is key to ensuring the safety and well-being of those affected by this form of violence. Here are some steps you can take:

  • Education and Awareness: It is important to educate the public about economic violence in a relationship so that people can identify its symptoms and effects. This can help victims recognize situations in which they are being financially exploited, and understand that they are not alone and that there is support for them.
  • Building financial independence: Promoting financial independence is a key aspect of preventing economic violence. People in a relationship should have equal access to financial resources and the opportunity to earn their own money. It is also important to develop professional skills and plan your financial future independently of your partner.
  • Promoting equality in the relationship: Building healthy, equal partnerships based on respect and cooperation can prevent economic violence. Partners should make financial decisions together and respect each person’s individual needs and goals.
  • Participation in support programs: Victims of economic violence should seek support from their community, including NGOs, support centers for victims of domestic violence, and support groups for those affected by this form of violence. Such programs can provide not only emotional support, but also practical advice on financial security and independence.
  • Ending a toxic relationship: When a relationship becomes toxic and the violence becomes unbearable, it is important to take steps to end the relationship. Victims should seek legal support and advice and organize a contingency plan to ensure a safe exit.

How to deal with economic violence – awareness raising and education:

Raising awareness of economic violence and educating both men and women in recognizing its symptoms are key. Many victims do not realize that economic control is a form of violence. Education can give them the strength to seek help and take steps toward financial independence. MC Public Health, 2023. The study analyzes the impact of economic violence on victims of domestic violence, using data from 13 countries, including the UK and other European countries – link to research

It is important for any person affected by economic violence in a relationship to know that they are not alone and that there is help and support they can use to get out of this difficult situation. Whether it is education, social support or professional help, there are resources and tools that can help victims of economic violence regain control of their lives.

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