Financial abuse is an invisible weapon’
Domestic abuse affects one in four women and one in six men in their lifetimes, and now Serena Williams has come together with Purple Purse by the Allstate Foundation to create a powerful video highlighting the invisible signs of domestic abuse – and financial abuse in particular.
In the video, Williams is seen getting ready for a tennis match.
“If I limped on to the court, you’d notice,” the celebrated tennis player says. “If I had black eyes and broken bones, you’d notice.
“If I had marks on my arms and fear in my voice, you’d notice. It’d be easy to see that I need help, to know something was wrong. But what about the abuse you can’t see?”
The video goes on to explain that “financial abuse is an invisible weapon” and that “it happens in 99 per cent of domestic violence cases, and it’s why many victims can’t just leave.”
Williams is an ambassador for the charity behind the video, Purple Purse by the Allstate Foundation, which campaigns to raise awareness of domestic abuse.
Financial abuse (also known as economic abuse) is a form of coercive control.
It can take various forms, however some of the most common ones are controlling someone’s access to bank accounts, placing restrictions on spending and only allowing a partner a strict allowance.
“Financial abuse involves a perpetrator using or misusing money which limits and controls their partner’s current and future actions and their freedom of choice,” Women’s Aid explains.
“It can include using credit cards without permission, putting contractual obligations in their partner’s name, and gambling with family assets.”
Financial abuse typically occurs alongside other forms of domestic abuse, with the victims being made to feel dependent on their abusive partner.
However, as Williams points out in the video, there are often no obvious signs to the outside world that this may be happening.
“Sadly the vast majority of survivors experience financial abuse at some point,” Women’s Aid says.
This is something Williams is hoping to change.
“I’m proud to speak up for women who can’t use their voices, and let them know we’re working to end the cycle of abuse,” she said in a statement.
“I hope that after viewing the video, people will be more aware of the hidden signs of financial abuse and they’ll understand the need to help those who’ve been burdened by it.”
If you or someone you know has experienced domestic violence or emotional abuse, contact the National Domestic Violence Helpline on 0808 2000 247.