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As yet another shocking video of domestic violence goes viral, the spotlight falls again on the upward spiral of abuse in South Africa. Not even celebrities are spared from it.
Often what keeps women locked in toxic relationships is their financial dependency on their partner, says John Manyike, Head of Financial Education at Old Mutual.
“It’s common for financial abuse and domestic violence to go hand-in-hand,” he says. “Victims of abuse may feel trapped in abusive relationships because they are financially dependent on their partners. They may be convinced that they lack the means to escape and cope independently.”
When your partner controls your financial affairs or resources in a way that keeps you totally dependent on him, that is financial abuse.
“Victims of domestic violence often face threats to their wellbeing and barriers to achieving their personal financial independence. Physical, psychological, and economic tactics are used to isolate and control them,” explains Manyike.
“Women often stay in abusive relationships because they are vulnerable and dependent on their partners financially,” adds Manyike. “Financial education can play a key role in empowering victims of domestic abuse to stand up for themselves. Being financially savvy can give women the courage and means to leave a destructive relationship.
“When you are armed with financial knowledge and understanding, you are more likely to make the kind of decisions that will give you options for an independent future for you and your children.”
Old Mutual offers a comprehensive online financial education programme called On the Money, which provides sensible money tips, including easy ways to develop a savings habit.
“The programme is accredited by Bankseta and NQF aligned,” he says. “By focusing on changing actual behaviour, it helps to break the cycle of generational poverty and focuses on getting people out of debt traps.”