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Women’s economic empowerment is crucial to Canada’s strategies against gender-based violence – Policy Options

February 12, 2024

Victims of domestic violence often can’t afford to leave. Strategies need to do more to help them regain control over their finances and lives.

Economic abuse is a problem that often goes unnoticed across Canada. It is a form of domestic violence that hides behind a wall of taboo, culture and lack of awareness.

It is also likely to be one answer to the question of why victims “don’t just leave.” They often cannot afford to. A lack of financial resources is one of the main reasons why victims stay in abusive relationships or return to them.

Policymakers have started to recognize this abuse, which coercively controls and limits someone’s economic independence. Abusive partners can prevent victims from having their own money or account; make big financial decisions without them; or build debt under their names, hindering their access to employment and scaring them into staying quiet about money.

Financial abuse and economic abuse are often used interchangeably but are different in scope. While the former limits monetary resources, the latter includes a broader range of behaviour, including economic control, economic exploitation and employment sabotage.

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