By Supriya Singh
The book is about economic abuse, the untold story of family violence
In this book, I tell the stories of 12 Anglo-Celtic and Indian women in Australia who survived economic abuse. These stories paint the lived experience of economic abuse across cultures. They show that when the morality of money is missing, money as a medium of care can become a medium of abuse.
Each story paints how the woman was entrapped and lost her freedom because her husband denied her money, appropriated her assets and sabotaged her ability to be in paid work. The story is about silence, shame and embarrassment that this could happen despite her professional and graduate education. Some of the women were the main earners in their household.
Women spoke of being afraid, of trying to leave, of losing their sense of self. Many suffered physical and mental ill-health, not knowing what would trigger the violence. Some attempted suicide.
Most did not recognise they were suffering economic abuse and that it was family violence.
Each story is also different as economic abuse is shaped by the way women and men own, manage and control money in various cultures. Anglo-Celtic women told how the joint account which is a medium of care and togetherness became the medium of abuse when husbands stopped providing. Indian women spoke of how their husbands sent all their money and some of theirs, without consultation to their parents in India for luxuries.
The stories also differ within the same culture because more women are in paid work compared to their mothers. Thirty years ago, family violence was also considered a personal issue. Women were told ‘You made your bed you lie on it.’
Women shared their stories to help prevent economic abuse
The women told their stories so their daughters would not suffer family violence, their sons not become perpetrators.
They told how they had learnt to speak of money and family violence with their children, with future partners, with other women in private and public spaces. Their experience taught them the importance of the ‘emotional literacy of money’. They learnt it is important to share their stories of money if they wanted partnership in a relationship. They need to re-negotiate the balance between ‘my money’, ‘your money’ and ‘our money’ at every life stage.
These stories also reveal it is best to leave early before a woman begins seeing herself through the eyes of her abuser. Education is the base for financial resilience, but it is even more important to ensure continuity of paid work. Support from family and friends is invaluable. Seeking help from family violence services is important so that the woman can regain control of her life through programs to help women with housing, financial help, trauma counselling, coerced debt, and legal processes
- Supriya Singh (2020). Economic Abuse and Family Violence Across Cultures: Gendering Money and Assets Through Coercive Control. In Marilyn McMahon and Paul McGorrery (Eds.) Criminalising Coercive Control: Family Violence and the Criminal Law. Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd.
- Supriya Singh (2020). The Gender and Morality of Money in the Indian Transnational Family. In Lan Anh Hoang and Cheryll Alipio (Eds.) Money and Moralities in Contemporary Asia. Amsterdam University Press.
- Singh, Supriya; Sidhu, Jasvinder (2020). Coercive Control of Money, Dowry and Remittances among Indian Migrant Women in Australia, South Asian Diaspora, 12(1), 35-50.
- Singh, Supriya (2019). “The daughter-in-law questions remittances: Changes in the gender of remittances among Indian migrants to Australia.” Global Networks, 19(2), 197-217.