Due to the economic impact of COVID-19, communities are seeing a widespread closure of businesses and industries, resulting in an increase in unemployment. Women disproportionately work in lower-paid, part-time and informal employment with little to no security, and are therefore less protected from economic recession in times of crisis.
For many people who experience intimate partner violence, the financial entanglement with an abusive partner is complex and difficult to sever without an alternative source of economic support.
Economic abuse involves maintaining control over financial resources, withholding access to money, or attempting to prevent a victim or survivor from working and/or attending school in an effort to create financial dependence as a means of control. Victims and survivors are often forced to choose between staying in abusive relationships and poverty or even homelessness.
Economic abuse is a very common reason victims stay in abusive relationships. Economic abuse can take many forms, including employment-related abuse, preventing the victim from accessing existing funds, coerced debt, and more. A loss of income for women in abusive situations may make it even harder for them to avoid or escape domestic violence.
The global cost of violence against women is estimated to be approximately US $1.5 trillion, and that figure is projected to rise with the increase in violence both during and in the aftermath of the pandemic.
Source: New England Journal of Medicine, UN Women, The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence