This Saturday, 25 November is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. Recognising this, NAB has launched its “Join Together” campaign against domestic and family violence. The bank also acknowledged that financial abuse is often a “warning sign” or symptom of a violent relationship.
The stark figure comes from the National Homicide Monitoring Program report, although some organisations estimate that the number of women who are killed by partners in domestic violence situations every year may be closer to 100.
NAB chief people officer Lorraine Murphy said: “Domestic and family violence often goes unseen, but one in four women in Australia is estimated to be subjected to physical or sexual violence by an intimate partner.
“This kind of violence hurts so many people in our community, including children. We can all play a role in ending it.”
Noting that physical violence is “just one” form of domestic and family violence, NAB said threatening behaviour towards yourself or others, including pets, sexual violence and emotional abuse are other forms of violence.
Forced isolation, stalking, psychological abuse, not allowing a partner to practice their religion and manipulative behaviour are other types of abuse.
As for financial abuse, this is a form of abuse where “the abuser uses money or finances to control the other person”, NAB said.
This may be in the form of forced debt, withholding “a reasonable amount of money”, such as the amount required to support a household, transferring assets away from the victim, deliberate sabotage of another’s credit rating and even preventing the victim access to money.
The Australian Securities & Investments Commission (ASIC) also advised that where money is being hidden, or a victim is forced to account for their spending are additional warning signs.
Steps that can be taken
Speaking together with Kristy McKellar (KM Consulting Services) NAB said there are “a lot of financial things” to think about if the victim is in a relationship where violence exists.
Kristy McKellar is a family violence expert and survivor.
When it comes to asserting or re-asserting financial control, NAB and Ms McKellar said: “It’s best to talk to a specialist family violence worker about your options and what steps you should take. For many people, setting up their own transaction account is an important step in their safety planning.
“Banks are obligated to send you statements and letters regarding your accounts in the mail, so consider choosing to receive your statements and letters online, or ask a trusted friend if you can nominate their address as your mailing address,” they continued.
If the victim has left the relationship, NAB and KM Consulting Services suggested they change the passwords related to their finances and set up SMS security on the accounts.
Additionally: “If you’ve changed addresses, notify us of your new address. We’ll keep this information confidential. If you’re staying somewhere short-term or have a temporary address, consider changing your mailing address to a trusted family member or friend, or requesting online statements.”
The next step is setting up an individual transaction account and directing salary and government payments to it.
NAB said “special attention” needs to be paid to the circumstances and rules around joint accounts and debts and advised specialist or legal advice is also sought.
However: “If you have a joint loan with us, you can ask for hardship assistance without the permission of the other borrower. We’ll consider a request for assistance from either of you. We will keep the reasons for your request confidential; however we do need to notify other borrowers and guarantors of the outcome of your financial hardship request.”
ASIC concluded: “Financial abuse is never okay. In some states and territories it is regarded as a form of family violence. Recognise the warning signs and don't be afraid to get help.”
The National Sexual Assault Domestic Violence Counselling Service, offers confidential online and telephone counselling, information and referral services.
1800 Respect national helpline: 1800 737 732
Women's Crisis Line: 1800 811 811
Men's Referral Service: 1300 766 491
Relationships Australia: 1300 364 277
Lifeline 24 hour crisis line: 131 114