Family violence extends beyond the most obvious acts like physical assault. It also covers less overt behaviours like stalking, mind games, keeping someone isolated from friends and family and threatening children or pets.
Another less well-recognised form of family violence is the abuse of financial power over a family member. Good Shepherd Youth & Family Service, in partnership with Kildonan UnitingCare, will soon launch a report into this confronting issue.
The "Spotlight on Economic Abuse" project grew from our increased recognition of the issue as a problem. Economic abuse was obviously affecting more women than previously realised. Yet because of a lack of understanding surrounding the issue, these women were being left without sufficient support.
The project revealed that, just like others forms of family violence, economic abuse can have devastating and long lasting impacts for both women and children.
A key aim was to provide guidance for the institutions these women and children encounter in their lives. Only once government departments, the courts, banks, utility companies and community organisations are able to recognise and understand economic abuse can they provide effective support for women experiencing it.
The most crucial period of the project involved forums featuring experts from the community, corporate and government sectors. One important outcome of these discussions was a recommendation for a public education campaign to tackle commonly held views that men should be in charge of family finances, that women lack financial nous, and that economic issues within relationships and society more broadly should remain private (or even secretive).
The forums revealed just how complex and insidious economic abuse can be, and how much more we need to do to address it properly. The findings from these talks are included in a final report document, to be launched next month. These will be presented to key government, corporate and community sector stakeholders with a view to creating policies and practices to better support women experiencing economic abuse.
You can read about the project in more detail here.