Spotlight on financial abuse
National Debt Advisors CEO Charnel Collins shines light on financial abuse during global 16 Days of Activism.
29 November 2022: The United Nations 16 Days of Activism for No Violence against Women and Children Campaign puts the spotlight on the elimination of gender-based violence. The annual campaign takes place from 25 November (International Day of No Violence against Women) to 10 December (International Human Rights Day).
While physical, emotional, sexual and even verbal are the most common forms of abuse, it is equally important to acknowledge the effect of mental and financial abuse of women. This is according to Charnel Collins, CEO at one of the leading debt counselling companies – National Debt Advisors (NDA). “On our NDA client base, the percentage of women under debt counselling is less than that of men, however women have been found to have a significantly larger amount of unsecured debt, such as credit card debt, student loans, and personal loans.”
She says in several situations, the woman doesn’t even realise that she’s in a financially abusive relationship. “The woman is often the primary breadwinner, however, her partner demands to control the finances, leading her to believe that the partner is being supportive. Unfortunately, this can lead to further emotional and mental abuse. The woman, unfortunately, becomes financially dependent on their partner and unable to exit the relationship”.
In other instances, women don’t have access to their bank accounts due to their partners controlling on it, which means that their credit agreements are limited. “This can be detrimental to their credit records as they have someone else who is spend their money and could also potentially incur debt in their name,” says Collins.
Collins, therefore, believes that financial literacy and education is a vital driver in leading women to empower themselves and take control of their finances. “As women and mothers, investing in the wellbeing of homes and family life is an important aspect but gaining financial knowledge is essential.” Financial literacy will ensure informed decisions are made when in relation to financial management.
To help women gain power back in their financial lives, Collins shares some top tips on how to cope with and get out of a financially abusive situation:
- Ensure you have or start gathering physical and electronic documents for any credit agreements that are in your name.
- Make sure that the contact details (phone, email etc.) on any agreements are yours, and that correspondence comes directly to you. You have the right to request this from your creditors and service providers, for any agreements linked to your name and identity number. No one else may give instruction or receive information on your bank accounts or credit agreements, other than you – unless they have legal power of attorney.
- Draw a credit report and find out exactly what your debt exposure and credit-worthiness looks like. You are entitled to one free credit report, from every credit bureau, once a year.
- Empower yourself and become financially informed. Visit sites which can financially educate and empower you about financial literacy and your rights.
- You are not alone in this. Find someone who you can trust and talk to.
“Understandably, getting out of any type of abusive situation is not easy. It’s important to know that there is help out there – whether through debt counselling or any type of financial education,” concludes Collins.
There is a 24/7 GenderBased Violence (GBV) hot-line facility where you can report gender-based violence.
- Emergency number: 0800 428 428
- USSD number: *120*7867#
- Skype: ‘Helpme GBV”
- SMS number: “Help” to 31531