The basic facts here are obvious enough, that women being abused in a domestic relationship may face economic pressures for them not to leave. For this is true of absolutely any domestic set up – we all face economic pressures about who we live with and how. The interesting question is what should we do about this? For to insist that women – and the claim is about women – should be able to be economically independent is to insist that someone, somewhere, must be picking up the cost of ensuring that independence. Who should that be?
Victims of domestic abuse face the choice of their families being plunged into homelessness and poverty, or staying with the abuser, a report has found. More than two-thirds of survivors of domestic abuse have reported their partners withheld money from them as a key method of controlling and mistreating them, according to the Women’s Aid report, The Economics of Abuse. “Fear of the financial implications kept me in the relationship for much longer than I would have if I had been financially independent,” one survivor told researchers. Another said: “I had to live on thin air when I left with my child. This caused much stress and I don’t think I have ever recovered.”
It’s quite obvious what the complainers about this think should happen. That the State – that is, you and me through the tax system – should be picking up this bill. We must be providing enough money for any and every woman to be economically independent so that they can live with or without a partner as they wish. Which is a fairly large claim really.
None of us are going to complain that someone who is being beaten black and blue daily has a claim on the welfare system to escape such beatings. But how much is that claim? To shelter and food until matters can be sorted? Until a job can be found and own feet stood upon? Or what I’d strongly expect is true here, that someone should be able to live well, raising their children, on the taxpayer’s shilling without the intervention of any partner? That being what proper economic independence probably means here.
That is, how far should this helping hand go? Or, how on the hook are the rest of us supposed to be for the living standards of others? A basic bit of aid in troubled times? Or the payment for a lifestyle forever?