On the LookOut: How to tell if you're in a financially abusive relationship

financial abuse

For the past two weeks I’ve discussed different forms of Gender Based Violence (GBV) and these include sexual, technological, emotional and physical abuse. Today I will wrap up with financial abuse as it is one of the common abuses that occur among us.

"He really loves me only that I don’t like the fact that he is stingy with his money. If I was working, I was not going to have such problems. I was going to use my money to buy some of the basic needs for me and the kids."

These are the words coming from a woman who is either getting very little or no money at all from their partner. We call this financial abuse yes this is also one form of GBV that happens in our different households but we think it is normal.

Most articles on GBV have focused on its physical, sexual, and psychological manifestations but had foregone the economic or financial abuse which women face mostly in the developing countries like ours, Malawi.

The question I'm about to answer is what is financial abuse? This is a form of abuse when one intimate partner’s access to economic resources, diminishes the victim’s capacity to support themselves and forces them to depend on the perpetrator financially.

This kind of abuse is usually felt by the women because of their vulnerability which comes in marriages because of the saying that women should be submissive. This has led to most  of the violence perpetrated against the women. There are circumstances where an educated woman would secure a job and work but when the monthly salary comes in, the man becomes so controlling of the money and she has little say and cannot even budget on it.

The ATM card is taken by the man. This sometimes reaches a point where one can go and withdraw money without the partner’s knowledge.

In some instances, a woman might be married to a rich but jealousy man who tells the wife not to be working. In return the husband becomes too controlling on the money and buys everything for the lady without taking into account that ladies also need some money for their personal specific needs.

In most cases such women have no say, they just receive what is bought and when they comment anything negative they are either beaten or not given any money including for upkeep. This renders the woman to be so dependent on the man. The woman in this circumstance becomes abused since she cannot buy what is really at her heart. In most circumstances most men who do this become choosy on the kind of friends their women should befriend.
 
In fairly earning households, financial GBV is also wrecking havoc. Some partners do not give a chance for their woman to work or let alone be involved in different businesses. Such men feel giving financial freedom to their woman is not necessary.

Paradoxically such men are willing to go as far as building a house for a side chick while their families are left languishing in rented houses. In worst case scenario their wives are left with no make-up or good clothes while their concubines are spoiled everyday with top class clothes, lingerie and jewelry. Men, review your actions towards your spouse and households to determine if you are not one of the perpetrators of GBV unknowingly.

In low earning households it is a general trend that ladies are very active in engaging themselves in piece works (ganyu) so as to fend for their families while husbands spend the whole day imbibing the locally brewed kachaso. In such households, the husbands have great affinity to the hard earned money. They confiscate the little hard earned money from the wife and decide to use on kachasu leaving the entire household in distress or destitute. In rare circumstances they give very little money to their wife and expect her to prepare the best dish of chambo when in actual sense the money left could only afford to buy utaka for a family of five children.

Women are twice likely as men to be victims of financial abuse. Understand GBV and know if you’re involved with such kind of partners and seek help if you have to.