“Economic violence against women is a blind spot in our public policies”

Dyears the series Maid, Alex, a single mother, painfully extricates herself from an abusive relationship to provide a better life for her daughter, Maddy. Adapted from the autobiographical book by Stephanie Land, this series produced by Netflix shows how economic violence is one of the most insidious, profound and disabling forms of domestic violence, moral harassment and the daily psychological domination of men over women.

Economic violence is a massive phenomenon: in 2021, a quarter of women calling 3919 denounced economic violence within the couple. According to the IFOP survey for Les Glorieuses, more than four in ten French women experience at least one form of domestic economic violence during their lifetime. One in two women receive no or no pension even though they should. Generally speaking, the heterosexual couple is a place of impoverishment for women: the accumulated wealth of men is there from 1.4 times to 2.4 times higher than that of women.

However, economic violence is today a blind spot in our public policies. She is completely absent from the debate. Economic violence is very little documented, and therefore identified: the man will control, exploit, financially sabotage his partner on a daily basis, this potentially leads to her being completely prohibited from working and to over-indebtedness.

A risk of total loss of autonomy

Economic violence can take many forms: administrative control, privatization of resources, endangerment of women’s common or personal assets, concealment of men’s assets. It can be perpetrated explicitly (seizure of pay, prohibition of access to bank accounts, prevention of work, confiscation of bank card, refusal to pay alimony, contraction of debts) or insidious (control, coercion, unbalanced sharing of household expenses).

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In all cases, economic violence has serious consequences on women, in terms of impoverishment and psychological weakening since it can lead to a total loss of autonomy. Economic and sexist violence are generally inextricable: 99% of women victims of economic violence also suffered other forms of domestic violence. By exposing women to a total breakdown in autonomy, economic violence organizes control and makes it materially impossible for women to get rid of it.

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