It’s easy to spot a black eye or broken bone. But many other symptoms of domestic violence are invisible to outsiders.
That’s especially true of financial abuse, which occurs in 99 percent of domestic violence cases, according to a survey released by Allstate Foundation Purple Purse, a campaign that seeks to end domestic violence through financial empowerment.
Tennis star and women’s rights advocate Serena Williams has made it her personal mission to bring more attention to the subject. Williams, who serves on the board of advisers for Oath, HuffPost’s parent company, has joined Purple Purse as an advocate and ambassador for a second year.
1. Limiting access to money or controlling your spending.
Since having a safety net of cash is often key to escaping a toxic relationship, abusers will ensure their victims don’t have enough money to get by on their own.
“An abuser might greatly restrict a victim’s access to credit cards or cash,” said Ellen Lisak, a communications officer for Allstate Foundation Purple Purse. For instance, they might demand you hand over your paychecks or the online passwords to your banking accounts.
An abuser also might closely monitor your spending, Lisak said. “You don’t have the flexibility to even buy groceries or socks for your kids or other common, everyday purchases,” she explained.
By making you 100-percent dependent on your abuser for basic living expenses, they ensure you can’t leave, even if you wanted to ― let alone afford a tank of gas or hotel room to escape.
2. Interfering with your job.
Another major sign of financial abuse is when your partner tries to limit your ability to earn money by preventing you from keeping a job.
They might show up to your work and cause disruptions, which may get you fired.
It’s also common for abusers to sabotage your ability to keep up with work responsibilities, such as taking your car without permission or promising to watch your children and then never showing up.
3. Ruining your credit.
Finally, a tactic that Lisak said she’s seeing a lot these days is ruining the victim’s credit.
An abuser might run up your credit card balance and purposely neglect bills in your name. “That has a devastating ripple effect,” she said.
For instance, if you have bad credit, you can’t qualify to rent an apartment. That can prevent you from finding a living situation away from your abuser.