Economic Abuse Within Intimate Partner Violence: A Review of the Literature

Amanda M. Stylianou
  • Violence and Victims, February 2018, Springer Publishing Company
  • DOI: 10.1891/0886-6708.vv-d-16-00112

A review of the impact of and interventions for economic abuse within intimate partner relationships

What is it about?

This article reviews the literature on the measurement of, impact of, and interventions for economic abuse within intimate partner relationships. Current assessment measures for economic abuse, along with estimates of the prevalence of economic abuse, are reviewed and critiqued. Research exploring the impact of economic abuse on the victim’s mental health and psychological well-being, family formations and parenting practices, and children’s behaviors and youth outcomes are presented. Recently developed interventions, including financial literacy program models, are discussed and emphasized as a critical service to increase victims’ economic self-efficacy, financial literacy, and financial behaviors. Finally, the review provides detailed recommendations on incorporating economic abuse as a central component of domestic violence research, practice, and policies.

Why is it important?

The field of IPV has made considerable gains in the past decades in increasing our understanding of abusive behaviors and tactics, understanding the impact abuse has on victims and their children, and developing and implementing programming to both prevent IPV and provide support to victims of IPV. As we move forward, the field needs to increase its focus on economic abuse and on developing practices and policies aimed specifically at economic abuse. Research has demonstrated that economic abuse is a unique form of abuse that has both short- and long-term impacts on victims of IPV and their children. Furthermore, early research provides evidence that economic abuse affects victims of IPV above and beyond other forms of abuse including physical violence, psychological abuse, and sexual violence. Although initial research has demonstrated the effectiveness of financial literacy programs implemented among victims of IPV, further program development is needed to develop and test interventions across diverse populations. Finally, researchers, advocates, and policymakers need to focus efforts on providing services and options to victims of IPV experiencing economic abuse.

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