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Measuring Abusive Behaviors: Economic Abuse

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After listing some common forms of intimate partner violence (IPV), this paper defines various forms and prevalence of economic abuse as a distinctive type of abuse in IPV. 


Common abusive behaviors in IPV are physical abuse, sexual abuse, psychological abuse, and economic abuse. This paper addresses the distinctive features of economic abuse in an intimate relationship. The forms of economic abuse described are 1) economic control, which involves monitoring and restricting a partner’s ability to manage financial resources; 2) economic exploitation, in which the abuser either depletes existing funds and/or creates debt and ruins the partner’s credit; and 3) employment sabotage, in which the abuser blocks the partner’s employment opportunities or restricts the abused partner’s ability to obtain finances through employment. The overall intent of economic abuse in IPV is to increase the victim’s dependence on the abuser and make it more difficult for the abused partner to leave the relationship.  Regarding the prevalence of economic abuse in IPV, the paper reports that in most IPV cases survivors who reported experiencing one form of IPV also experienced other forms as well. Women who experience physical or psychological abuse are also likely to experience some form of economic abuse. Higher levels of one form of abuse are significantly related to higher levels of another form of abuse. In the authors’ study, 76 percent of participants reported experiencing all forms of IPV.