What is Financial Abuse?

 
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When we think about domestic violence, the first thing that comes to mind is often physical abuse. Cuts and bruises and broken bones may be the most obvious kind of domestic violence, but the most common kind of domestic violence is financial abuse, which is present in over 95% of domestic violence cases. 

Domestic violence centers around behavior that an abuser uses to gain or maintain power and control. Not surprisingly, using financials is often the “best” way for him to do this. He prevents his partner from utilizing or accessing financial resources, which will force her to become financially dependent on him. Financial abuse is used in conjunction with other kinds of abuse, but, because financial abuse is not as obvious as other forms of domestic violence, it can be difficult to spot.

  • The abuser may interfere with the victim’s ability to get or keep a job. One of the easiest ways for an abuser to control his partner is to ensure that she is not earning her own money. This means that he may make it very difficult or even impossible for her to work.
    • He may sabotage job interviews – forcing her to be late or miss an employment opportunity all together. 
    • He may make it very difficult for her to get to work – hiding her keys, restricting her access to transportation, or altogether preventing her from leaving the home.
    • He may show up at her work place and cause a scene. She may be reprimanded or even fired for this, or, she may quit on her own, due to the shame and embarrassment she feels.
    • He may insist that she quit her job or reduce the hours that she works. He may point to an “issue” at home that requires she do this – the children aren’t being properly cared for or the home isn’t being maintained to his liking.
    • The abuser may prevent the victim from accessing funds. The abuser may limit his partner’s ability to use credit cards and cash, or limit her access to funds through ATMs or the bank. He may also demand that his partner turn over any funds that she earned herself – or even prevent her from seeing her hard earned money at all, by requiring that she deposit checks into his account or sign them over to him.
  • The abuser may prevent the victim from holding any assets. The abuser may demand that all joint assets – like a deed, mortgage, or title – be in his name only. Even if the victim does have assets that are hers alone, he may force her to give or sign them over to him. 
  • The abuser may use debt as a form of control. The abuser may force the victim to use her credit in a way that is detrimental to her. It is not uncommon for an abuser to force a victim to open credit cards or apply for loans for things that are for both of them, or even solely for him. He may also open accounts in the victim’s name, without her knowledge or consent. This can be especially damaging, as the abuser can destroy the victim’s credit, making her further dependent on him. 

Even when a victim is ready to leave her abusive partner, she is often unable to do so because of financial limitations. Especially when children are involved, staying in an abusive situation may seem like the better of two awful options. Because she has had limited access to money or assets, the victim does not have the financial resources to provide for herself and her children on her own. At least in her current situation, she knows that her children will have beds to sleep in and food to eat.

If you are experiencing domestic violence, we urge you to seek help. You are not alone. There are many resources available to help those in need, including safety planning, transitional housing, and legal assistance. 

Note: when referring to perpetrators, we use he/him pronouns, and when referring to victims and survivors, we use she/her pronouns. This is solely for consistency and ease of reading. We recognize that both men and women can perpetrate or be victims of domestic violence, but the sad truth is that the majority of perpetrators are male, and the majority of victims are female. 

What is Gaslighting?

 
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As we discussed in our last post, domestic violence can take many forms, including emotional and psychological abuse. One tactic abusers utilize that is both very prevalent, and often very difficult to identify as it is occurring, is something called “gaslighting.” Almost every client we meet with will say something to the effect of, “He acted like I was crazy, but I swear this is what happened…” This is gaslighting –  a manipulation tactic where the abuser causes the victim to doubt her own perception of reality, recollection and even sanity. The victim may start to believe that she has a terrible memory, is stupid, or is even going crazy. When an abuser causes a victim to internalize these beliefs about herself, the victim can become easier for the abuser to control and manipulate. 

Gaslighting can appear in several different forms. For example:

  • The abuser may insist that the victim is misremembering or inventing facts, in an attempt to make her doubt her own memory. He might insist that she is remembering something inaccurately, or that she completely fabricated a memory. Often, he will also remind the victim of times in the past when she has “misremembered” things (and often these were also a result of gaslighting) in order to prove that she has a terrible memory and should defer to the abuser’s version of events.
  • The abuser may act as if he simply does not understand what the victim is talking about when she attempts to discuss certain topics with him. Often times, an abuser will use phrases like, “you’re trying to confuse me!” to distract the victim from the fact that she has raised valid and logical concerns. This can cause the victim to doubt her own motives for broaching certain topics, which, in turn, can prevent her from even bringing up those topics in the first place.
  • The abuser may also cause the victim to question her general outlook on life. For example, he may say things like, “you are always so negative!” or “you always fly off the handle!” This can cause a victim who responds to abuse in an objectively reasonable manner to believe that she is just being overly negative, reactive, or sensitive. This can be a powerful tool for abusers. The victim ends up blaming her anger, sadness, and anxiety on her perceived inability to respond properly to situations, as opposed to attributing her negative feelings to the abuse she is experiencing. 
  • The abuser may also minimize the victim’s feelings by saying things like “why are you letting something like that bother you?” A victim may begin to think that her reactions to abuse are inappropriate because she isn’t sufficiently thick-skinned and resilient – she’s simply overreacting. Again, the victim blames herself for reacting in ways that are, in actuality, appropriate and reasonable. 

These behaviors are often subtle and tricky for victims to spot, especially as they are occurring. Often times, the victim won’t realize what was happening until she is safely removed from the situation, and recalls what happened. Some general signs that may indicate that a victim is currently being gaslit are:

  • She is no longer sure in her decisions or convictions;
  • She may try to tell herself that she is just too sensitive;
  • She may find that her self-confidence in other aspects of her life, like her job, has decreased;
  • She may stop talking with her partner about anything that could be construed as negative, and / or stop raising concerns about the relationship to her partner;
  • She may feel like she doesn’t have any positive qualities;
  • She may isolate herself from friends and family in order to avoid questions about her relationship; or
  • She may feel a general sense of anxiety and / or sadness, but is have a hard time putting her finger on what is causing it.

As with most things in life, every situation is different. If you or someone you know are experiencing gaslighting, we urge you to seek help. You are not alone. There are many resources available to help those in need, including safety planning, transitional housing, and legal assistance.  

Note: when referring to perpetrators, we use he/him pronouns, and when referring to victims and survivors, we use she/her pronouns. This is solely for consistency and ease of reading. We recognize that both men and women can perpetrate or be victims of domestic violence, but the sad truth is that the majority of perpetrators are male, and the majority of victims are female. 

What is Domestic Violence?

 
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We recently observed Domestic Violence Awareness month, which prompted a lot of questions about what is and is not domestic violence. It turns out that the answer isn’t so simple. We explain domestic violence a bit elsewhere on our website, but wanted to go into a little more detail here. 

To start, there are multiple definitions of domestic violence: the behavioral definition and the legal definition. 

Behavioral domestic violence is a broader definition. It is a pattern of abusive behavior that is used by one partner to gain or maintain power and control over the other partner. Domestic violence can take many forms*: 

  • Physical abuse: This looks like hitting, punching, slapping, choking, throwing objects at, and otherwise physically harming. Because there are often visible signs, physical abuse is generally the most easily recognizable form of domestic violence. 
  • Sexual abuse: This looks like forced penetration (oral, anal, or vaginal) and unwanted sexual touching. “Force” does not mean that there is a threat of violence; rather, it means that the encounter was not consensual. A victim does not have to physically fight back, scream out, or even say no for an encounter to be non-consensual. 

  • Financial abuse: This looks like controlling access to employment, transportation, bank accounts, and credit cards, such that a victim is dependent on her abuser for survival.

  • Emotional abuse: This type of abuse encompasses many different behaviors, including isolating, guilt-tripping, threatening to reveal private, personal, or humiliating information (immigration status, sexual history, private photographs or videos), manipulating situations such that the victim begins to question his/her perception of reality (gaslighting), and berating (name-calling, making derogatory comments, being overly critical, talking down, etc.)

The legal definition of domestic violence, however, is more limited, and is what courts are bound by when victims are petitioning for relief. In order to obtain a Domestic Violence Protection Order in Washington state, the parties need to be in a specific kind of relationship. Qualifying relationships include: spouses and former spouses, domestic partners, parents of a child in common, adults in a dating relationship, and parents and children. The definition of domestic violence that courts use is: (1) physical harm, bodily injury, assault, or the infliction of fear of imminent harm, bodily injury, or assault; (2) sexual assault; or (3) stalking. If the requisite relationship is present, and the legal definition is met, the court shall grant the petitioner a protection order. While courts will consider behavioral domestic violence as well (especially to get a fuller picture of the abuse), in order to grant a Domestic Violence Protection Order, the legal definition of domestic violence must be met. 

If you are experiencing domestic violence, we urge you to seek help. You are not alone. There are many resources available to help those in need, including safety planning, transitional housing, and legal assistance.  

*This list is not exhaustive. If you are experiencing the above or any other concerning behavior, we would recommend you reach out to someone you trust or a community advocate.

Note: when referring to perpetrators, we use he/him pronouns, and when referring to victims and survivors, we use she/her pronouns. This is solely for consistency and ease of reading. We recognize that both men and women can perpetrate or be victims of domestic violence, but the sad truth is that the majority of perpetrators are male, and the majority of victims are female. 

Purple Purse Challenge Results!

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Hey everyone! The results are in, and we have officially finished in 10th place (out of over 100 organizations in our division)! We are so thrilled and cannot thank you all enough for your support! Together, we raised $12,275 and won an additional $5,575, which means that total, we raised $17,850! We are stunned by the generosity and support that we've received, and we just cannot thank you all enough! ❤️👏❤️

We'd also like to congratulate Jeanne, the winner of the beautiful leather purple purse, designed by Serena Williams. 

Finally, huge thanks to Allstate Foundation and Purple Purse for organizing and contributing so much to this campaign  

Again, thank you all so much for your continued support!
 

24 Hours Remaining!

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Friends! There are just over 24 hours left in the Challenge, and we are so close to getting back in the top seven and winning $5,000 – $100,000. We can't tell you how much we've appreciated your support so far, but we have to ask one more time: if you haven't donated yet, please considering doing so! If you have donated, please help us spread the word (oh, and thanks for being so wonderful)!

Don't forget: all donations will receive a leather purple purse charm,and the beautiful purple purse is still up for grabs. ALSO! We'll be raffling off five $10 gift cards to the winner's choice of Amazon, Apple, Chipotle, Shell, Starbucks, Target, or Trader Joe's. Every donation $25 or more made between now and the end of the Challenge will be entered to win!

Please help us close this campaign out strong by donating + sharing!

Week 4

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Friends! This is the last week of the Purple Purse Challenge, and we cannot thank you all enough for your support! Last week, we met our goal of raising $1,000, and are in the running to win $3,000! We'll keep you posted on that. 

For the FINAL week, the five organizations that raise the most money between now and the end of the Challenge will each win another $3,000! Please help us close this campaign out strong by donating + sharing!

Week 3

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Week three starts now! This week’s challenge is super fun: the two teams who raise the most will play rock paper scissors – the winner receives $8,000 and the loser receives $4,000. ALSO! All teams that raise over $1,000 will be entered to win $3,000. 

For every $100 donated, you'll get an entry  to win a box of Pike Place Market favorites (including smoked salmon and Chukkar cherries 🤤)! Please help us out by donating + sharing!

Today is the Day!

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The Purple Purse Challenge has officially begun, and as promised, we’ll have regular updates here. But first, like all of you, what happened in Las Vegas is weighing on us heavily. We started the day thrilled to kick off this fundraising campaign, and our excitement quickly turned to horror as we learned what occurred last night. Sadly, gun violence and domestic violence are directly connected: guns are used to kill women in over 50% of intimate partner homicides, and the presence of a gun in a domestic violence situation increases the risk of homicide by approximately 500%.

While I think many of us would like to go ahead and cancel today, we just can’t. We still have work to do, and we’re still asking for your support. This week, if we raise at least $500, $1,000, $2,500, or $5,000, we get entered to win the same. The more money we raise, the more opportunities to win. There will be up to 20 winners, so this is a great opportunity for us to raise lots of money. Please donate here, or using the widget below + share!

The Allstate Foundation's Purple Purse Challenge / Press Release

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September 27, 2017
Seattle, Washington

The Allstate Foundation 2017 Purple Purse Challenge

Northwest Advocacy Foundation is thrilled to have been selected to participate in The Allstate Foundation’s Purple Purse Challenge. The purpose of this fundraising campaign is to increase public awareness around domestic violence, as well as to raise funds through Crowdrise.

The Challenge, which coincides with National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, takes place October 2 – 31. Northwest Advocacy Foundation will be competing with over 200 other organizations to raise the most money through Crowdrise. The Challenge is split into two divisions based on operating budget, and the nonprofit in each division that raises the most money will receive a $100,000 grant. Additional grants range from $50,000 for second place to $5,000 for seventh place, and there are also weekly bonus challenges. We'll be giving away a purple purse charm to every donor, and there will also be opportunities to prizes along the way. PLUS, for every $25 donated, you'll get an entry into our raffle to win a limited-edition leather purple purse, designed by tennis star and Purple Purse ambassador, Serena Williams.

Northwest Advocacy Foundation is a nonprofit legal services provider and our focus is on helping domestic violence survivors and their children find safety and security, and rebuild their lives. We help survivors with their legal matters (generally domestic violence protection orders, family law actions, and landlord/tenant disputes), and also connect them with social services providers for things like transitional housing and job training. We're a bit unique in the nonprofit world, in that we try to operate without the need for government grants (relying instead on community support, donations, and reduced client fees) so this fundraiser is a really big event for both us and the folks who rely on our services. We thank you in advance for your support!

What you can do:

  1. Donate here. Each donation, whether it’s $10 or $10,000, makes a difference. (Note that only donations made via Crowdrise will count for this Challenge.)
  2. Follow along with us on our website and on Facebook, and help us get the word out!

About Purple Purse
One in four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime, regardless of socioeconomic background or ethnicity. In almost all domestic violence cases, victims also experience financial abuse – meaning their abusers deny them access to money and financial resources – making it nearly impossible for them to break free. The number one reason that survivors give for remaining in or returning to abusive relationships is that they don’t have the financial resources to leave.

Purple Purse was created to raise awareness about domestic violence and financial abuse, and The Allstate Foundation has invested over $50 million to do this.

Last year, the Purple Purse Challenge helped domestic violence programs around the country raise over $3 million dollars.

About The Allstate Foundation
Established in 1952, The Allstate Foundation is an independent, charitable organization made possible by subsidiaries of The Allstate Corporation. Through partnerships with nonprofit organization across the country, The Allstate Foundation brings the relationships, reputation and resources of Allstate to support innovative and lasting solutions that enhance people's well-being and prosperity. With a focus on building financial independence for domestic violence survivors, empowering youth and celebrating the charitable community involvement of Allstate agency owners and employees, The Allstate Foundation works to bring out the good in people's lives.