How to overcome financial abuse, what to look for, where to get help

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Jessica Brown has heard too many “horrible” stories to count.

The CEO and founder of Australia’s new charity, The Warrior Woman Foundation, has seen first-hand the types of financial abuse women face.

“One of the most horrible things that makes my blood boil is (the partners) preventing them from being independent, from finding a job,” she said.

“A woman had an important meeting at work the next day, so she had stayed up all night and he hurt her to prevent her from going to the meeting.

“We had a young girl who was prevented from studying.”

Ms Brown was reading the stories in her charity’s applications Young Warriors Program.

Former Woman of the Year in New South Wales launched the Warrior Woman Foundation to help vulnerable young women transition from out-of-home care to adulthood.

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She helps women from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds and foster families who have struggled with mental illness, drug addiction, relationship violence, family issues and lack of education.

“It’s horrible these stories, really, really horrible,” she said.

“Sometimes with coercive behavior it’s so gradual that they don’t see the difference right away. It is a slow combustion.

“Many of them are empty shells of themselves. They just yearn for the absolute soul of them, they are so drained, they have so many doubts about their own abilities.

“The sad thing is a lot of people say, ‘It’s my fault I’m bad with money,’ and they don’t seek legal help.”

The foundation connects women to legal centers for financial abuse and has mentors to help them through the process of consolidating any debt.

While Ms Brown started the charity last year, she has a long history of working with vulnerable women and has seen an increased need to help them.

The foundation’s goal is to teach younger generations about financial literacy, the signs of financial abuse, how to prevent them, and how to fend for themselves.

“We have a bit of a mantra that financial literacy is the difference between being able to make your own decisions or having them made for you,” she said.

“Women earn 14% less in Australia, so it’s about addressing that inequality so that women, when they turn 55, actually have the money. Women get $ 250,000 less than their male counterparts when they retire, which is awful. “

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Ms Brown said some of the signs that women are experiencing financial abuse include their partners controlling how all household income is spent, forcing them to claim social security benefits like Centrelink, forcing them to vouch for a loan in their name, forcing their partner to take out a second credit card in their name and accumulate debts and forge signatures.

Other red flags may be withholding financial support or gambling.

Ms Brown said it was important for women to stay in touch with people they trust, not afraid to talk about their situation and learn to recognize and avoid financial scams.

This may include regularly checking financial statements for transactions and not ceding control of the accounts.

“It’s really simple things like opening your own mail and storing documents and account credentials in a safe and secure place,” she said.

“If they lend money, have it in writing and don’t sign any documents you don’t understand. “

Ms Brown said financial abuse can happen to anyone, not just vulnerable women.

“Just because you don’t have the bruises, the scars of financial abuse are still visible,” she said.

the Young Warrior Program takes apps now.

The foundation also runs a financial training program for vulnerable women called Penny Wise Warriors, which teaches young women the financial skills and education necessary to escape disadvantaged socio-economic conditions and abuse.



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