Family violence often focuses on physical acts. What's often not discussed is financial or economic abuse. It's widespread in New Zealand and is the basis of a campaign by social lender Good Shepherd New Zealand to raise awareness.
Victims of financial abuse don't always realise what's happening. The tell-tale signs, says Nicola Eccleton, manager social inclusion at Good Shepherd, include:
• Having to ask for money for basic needs.
• Being coerced to stay home and not work.
• Not having access to the family bank account.
• Being denied decision-making power over how the household money is spent.
International research shows when there are forms of domestic violence happening, there is almost always economic abuse at the same time, says Eccleton.
Financial abuse can be suffered by anyone, but women are often the victims.
"I hate to be the Grim Reaper, but family violence, physical, sexual, psychological and financial abuse is experienced by one in two women in New Zealand over the course of their lifetime," says Eccleton.
Even in the financial sector and banking, Eccleton meets women who share their own lived experiences of financial abuse.
A very common scenario is that seemingly good relationships start to change when the female gets pregnant, says Eccleton. That's exactly what happened for UK-born Belinda when she stopped working and her husband became the sole breadwinner.
"What made it worse was that we moved to New Zealand when I was very heavily pregnant and that made me completely dependent upon him," Belinda told Good Shepherd. "Suddenly, I was being bombarded with 'you should do this', 'you shouldn't do that'.
"It got to the point where he would make all the decisions to do with money. He would do the shopping. So he would be in charge of what kind of cereal we had, what fruit we had, even down to my sanitary products. He saw panty liners as a cosmetic, not a necessity," said Belinda. "At bottom, I still really thought that I was to blame.
"The breaking point came when I needed to get the kids to the hospital, to A&E. I had no petrol in the car and no means of getting them there. The following week, he was on a jaunt to Waiheke Island with some friends. I was at home with the kids. All four of us had head lice. I had thrush (and) no money to buy medication or nit shampoo. It finally dawned on me that this is barbaric."
Financial abuse can come in many forms. Victims often find themselves saddled with debt that they didn't even know the partner had taken out, says Eccleton.
Maybe the home is re-mortgaged for the family business, that the victim has no control over. Or the victim is pressured to take out loans. "They might say: 'oh hey babe, my credit rating's really bad. I need a new car and I really need to put it in your name'. That happens a lot," says Eccleton.
If you recognise these symptoms, talk to a friend, family, or an agency for help, says Eccleton.
Even that can be difficult and it's not unusual for the victim not even to have sufficient money to escape the home. They may also have their electronic devices monitored, making it hard to seek advice online, says Joanna Bower, senior communications adviser at Women's Refuge.
"We have several avenues [for help]," says Bower. "The main one we push is our 24/7 crisis line 0800 REFUGE. We also have details on our website."
Many women use the Womens' Refuge's shield widget that can be found on many corporate websites such as banks, The Warehouse, Spark, Contact Energy and others. That clicks through to an untraceable live webchat with someone who can help.
"It doesn't show up in your web browser. So there's no need to delete any history," says Bower.