You often hear and read stereotypes and assumptions about the connections between poverty and domestic abuse. Actual connections are harder to untangle…
Some of the (sometimes contradictory) claims made are that:
- Women with fewer economic resources are more likely to be abused
- Men with fewer economic resources are more likely to be violent
- The difference in economic resources within the household is more important than actual resources – but this could work both ways:
- greater equality between men and women means less violence
- increasing equality for women leads to a backlash and more violence
Whatever the connections between poverty and experiencing abuse, there is the clearer claim that women need economic resources to be able to escape abuse and re-build a new life free from violence.
However, one of the difficulties is that leaving abuse is often so private that you are not going to be answering surveys about your income at the time. And all the main social surveys – such as the Crime Survey of England and Wales – do not survey anyone in temporary accommodation: so women in refuges, Bed & Breakfast or staying with friends or family will not be surveyed.
And then there is the fact that women will usually have to give up their jobs, and their studies, to escape – and pay out money for travel, to replace clothes and possessions; and pay over the odds for all kinds of expenses in a new unfamiliar area.
So your economic situation before you leave is not the same as your economic situation on the move, or settling in a new area.
All in all, it’s difficult to untangle women’s experiences of poverty and domestic abuse – however, research by Jude Towers is working on this, and highlighting how crucial it is that women have access to their own money to be able to leave – and to be able to start again.