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Financial abuse a source of control in violent relationships

People in Virginia may shake their heads when domestic violence victims return to their abusive relationships, but money often drives the decision. Victims sometimes have no access to money and may not even have a job when they try to leave a relationship because of the effects of financial abuse.

Abusers frequently control their victims by withholding access to money. Financial abuse takes many forms, and an abusive person might employ one or more tactics for hobbling the partner's ability to have money. Through violence or the threat of violence, a person might be prevented from having a job. Even if a person gets a job, the abusive partner could stalk or harass the person at work until the employer terminates employment. Financial control can also be exerted when money is shifted into the abusive partner's individual account. The victim then receives an allowance but possess no true financial autonomy.

An abuser might also plot the ruination of the victim's credit score. Running up debts in the victim's name and bouncing the victim's checks are two methods for hurting a credit score. Without good credit, leaving a partner becomes more difficult because passing a credit check to rent an apartment could be difficult or impossible.

Financial pressure can be especially challenging for a parent trying to end an abusive relationship. Without money, food and housing for children becomes unattainable, and a victim will return to the abuser to avoid homelessness. For those determined to escape, protective orders provide one legal tool for restricting the abuser's access to the victim. A family law attorney could provide advice about how to meet the criteria for receiving a protective order.

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