Amidst a global pandemic and growing research which suggests women are severely affected by COVID-19, it's an opportunity to make big strides in our effort to address larger societal issues such as equality and justice, reproductive rights, poverty and domestic issues like financial abuse, as well as income security and retirement. It is estimated that 46% of women are "not too confident" or "not at all confident" about their ability to live comfortably after retirement, compared to only 31% of men who feel that way.
After my husband died unexpectedly, leaving me a 31-year-old widow with two small children, I realized that all women need to have a firm financial identity. I also found my voice in raising awareness about women's financial empowerment and issues such as financial abuse, as well as the importance of gender equality, diversity and financial inclusion. Women's rights have become my passion, and I realize that, globally, we can't fully achieve holistically wealthy communities if women don't have access to the same opportunities to thrive and be successful. This is especially the case, given through COVID-19. Indeed, women can't be fully empowered, if they're not financially empowered.
Financial abuse is often the first sign of dating violence and domestic abuse. However, it hasn't received the attention and profile that it ought to. According to Allstate Financial, one in four women experience domestic violence in the United States. 99% of those cases also include financial abuse. Financial abuse is one of the main reasons why victims are unable to leave an abusive partner or have to return to one as abusers typically control the finances to ensure that their victims can't leave.
As a trained Economist and bestselling author of Holistic Wealth: 32 Life Lessons to Help You Find Purpose, Prosperity and Happiness, I have embraced a mission of raising awareness of female economic empowerment. After all, women can't be fully empowered if they're not financially empowered.
What Is Financial Abuse?
Financial abuse is the act of controlling someone's ability to acquire, use, and maintain financial resources. Those who are abused financially may be manipulated and sabotaged and thereby prevented from working. Victims of financial abuse may also have restricted access to their own money or bank accounts or have their funds stolen by the abuser. When they do have money, they often have to account for every penny they spend.
Financial abuse is one of the main reasons why victims are unable to leave an abusive partner or have to return to one as abusers typically control the finances to ensure that their victims can't leave.
In this video, I discuss the signs of financial abuse and outline some strategies to overcome it.
Women's Economic Security
Violence against women and women's economic security are highly-interlined. Public policies that enable increased pay equity to boost women's access to resources and support, including counseling, will be effective.
Financial Literacy In Schools
Equally as important as educating women about recognizing the signs of financial abuse is giving them the skills to protect themselves from it. This has to start in high schools and universities. We can't afford to wait until after it happens. This is why the messages and strategies outlined in my book, Holistic Wealth: 32 Life Lessons to Help You Find Purpose, Prosperity and Happiness, are so important to teach women how to create an empowered financial identity that protects them from abuse, boosts their confidence and leads to improved mental, emotional and spiritual health. A key part of this strategy is embracing a "Holistic Wealth Mindset™," and this stems from the "Holistic Wealth Method™," which I've also developed. Having a curriculum designed to introduce students to the signs and strategies to overcome financial abuse is key.
Financial Empowerment For Women
Empowering women financially is critical to preventing financial abuse. Gender-based violence is rooted in gender inequality. Violence against women and women's economic security are highly intertwined. According to WomenAct, "Abuse often results in economic costs for survivors, including health costs, lost wages, and relocation expenses. Survivors can experience long -term economic consequences that make it difficult to rebuild economic security and resilience, including barriers such as debt, poor credit, housing instability and a diminished ability to work." Initiatives that enable increased pay equity to boost women's access to resources as well as supports, including counseling, will be effective.
In this video, I discuss developing personal mission statements for women.
The Holistic Wealth Development Index
The Holistic Wealth Development Index that's presented in my book Holistic Wealth, contains a modern framework that allows public policy experts a tool for evaluating the effectiveness of public policy interventions. It is a model that allows societies to develop resilience in the face of setbacks. As a result, it encompasses a model for societal resilience that is also necessary for societal growth. It takes into consideration the necessary supports that are required for individuals to be able to achieve holistic wealth — even in the face of adversity, tragedy, and setbacks (including domestic and financial abuse). A more resilient society is a more prosperous and successful — and holistically wealthy — society. The Holistic Wealth Development approach is the counter theory we need in a time of urgent human problems and economic and social inequality.
Empowering women financially is critical to preventing financial abuse.
My approach also entails a list of holistic wealth functionalities—and the idea that societies that embrace holistic wealth for all embrace these opportunities for individuals without humiliation and loss of dignity, as is the case in domestic and financial abuse. In times like these, where we are faced with a crisis, the choices we make now will affect the holistic wealth of generations to come.
WRITTEN BYKeisha Blair