When it comes to the subject of domestic abuse, accounts of crime and violence usually take center stage. But another element that's not as often discussed are the financial losses suffered by the victims of domestic violence. It's estimated that victims of domestic abuse lose 8 million work days each year that they would've had under safer circumstances. Further, the total economic impact of domestic abuse—adding up lost productivity with the expense of police, medical, and social services—is estimated to be as high as $7 billion.
The National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV) calls the impact on a victim's bank account the "hidden barrier," and that the financial damage for those who escape abusive relationships can last for years. The NNEDV has found that financial abuse is a powerful way of trapping victims in their situations, and a survey of survivors showed that 98 percent of abusive relationships involve financial abuse. This happens in various ways, from draining assets and destroying a partner's credit score, to jeopardizing a partner's career.
A new University of Pittsburgh study looks at what happens to the finances of women who take action to put an end to their own abuse, by looking at their financial situations at the time they file a civil restraining order. The researchers looked at the financial data of nearly 4,000 women in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, who filed for protective orders between 1996 and 1999.