November 26th declared National Day of Awareness for Economic Abuse and Survivors of Economic Injustice. The Day calls to educate the survivors, financial institutions, policymakers about the different economic challenges faced by survivors of domestic violence, the prevalence of economic abuse, costs of recovery, stigma, unemployment, and debt.
According to the Canadian Center for Women’s Empowerment(CCFWE), Each Day in Canada, approximately 51% of women staying in shelters for women and children report experiencing financial abuse.
“Many people understand the impact of physical violence, verbal and psychological abuse; it is less often discussed economic abuse,” said MP Anita Vandenbeld in a speech in the House of Commons last month. “About 95% of women who experience domestic abuse also experience economic abuse. It can also occur on its own. I want to thank the Canadian Center for Women’s Empowerment for the hard work and raising awareness about this important issue.”
“Women from marginalized groups, including newcomers, refugees, racialized, and Indigenous women, are at a higher risk of economic abuse due to other systemic factors. We believe that Economic abuse is a systemic problem in our society which we severely lack the infrastructure to address. Agencies dealing with survivors and financial institutions often fail to identify or tackle economic abuse, meaning that survivors struggle to manage the impacts of Economic abuse such as debt, bad credit score, lack of money, and poor mental health without help. ,” said Meseret Haileyesus, founder and CEO of the Canadian Center for Women’s Empowerment.
“Unlike physical abuse, financial abuse often continues long after a woman has left the abusive relationship because their abuser can maintain contact and control them through spousal or child support. Coerced debt and bad credit scores often prevent survivors from securing housing in the short and long terms or make it more difficult to get a credit card, student loan, line of credit, car loan, and potentially a job due to screening by some employers” Woman Abuse Council of Toronto (WomanACT) entitled Hidden in the Everyday.
The Canadian Center for Women’s Empowerment (CCFWE) is addressing economic abuse because of the many prevailing negative implications it has on women in the community. These impacts range from physical, emotional, and economical. Economic abuse encompasses economic control, employment sabotage, economic exploitation, and on-the-job harassment. We understand the complexities of economic abuse and how its covertness makes it very hard to identify and stop. The reality that victims continue to suffer the effects of economic abuse long after they have left their abuser makes this cause very important to the CCFWE.
CCFWE’s work is to create an ecosystem and building resources for survivors, creating a national taskforce and peer networks that foster survivors’ collective power, changing existing policy and advocating for the passage of new and survivor-centered policy expanding the data and research that exists to support the field, and bringing in employers, banks, and other institutions as part of the ecosystem working to support the survivor’s financial security and safety.
The CCFWE’s Haileyesus said economic abuse has devastating, long-lasting impacts on survivors and that very specific policies and programs are needed to address it.
“We need to provide accessible and free credit repair and debt remediation services for survivors. Increase emergency funds available to help women and gender non-conforming people flee violence, obtain housing, and rebuild their economic security services. Financial Institutions should offer flexible repayment plans for survivors in default and work with survivors to develop a flexible and achievable repayment plan. These plans will save survivors’ credit, increase their confidence, and foster customer loyalty to the bank. We need to raise awareness. We need to see a clear plan to address economic abuse be in the national gender-based violence strategy,” said Haileyesus.
On the City of Ottawa, Day to End Economic Abuse and Injustice show your support for those who are being economically abused. Sign the House of Commons petition at ccfwe.org to tell the Canadian government the time has come to expand the federal strategy to end Gender-Based Violence to include economic abuse. Tell the government Statistics Canada needs to be mandated to collect data and conduct studies on economic abuse. And urge the government to expand funding for services for survivors of domestic violence and economic abuse.
Sign the petition to protect domestic abuse survivors at https://bit.ly/3nZupxL