"…Economic abuse to me is not seen, you know?" Service provider’s perceptions of women’s experiences of economic abuse within domestic violent relationships

Master Thesis


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University of Cape Town

Through the perceptions of MOSAIC service providers¹, this thesis aims to examine firstly, women’s experiences of economic abuse, through exploring the nature of this abuse; and secondly, how economic abuse may limit women’s agency to leave a violent domestic relationship. In order to provide an understanding of the nature of economic abuse, four focus group discussions were conducted with MOSAIC service providers who assist women of abuse. Additionally, data from MOSAIC in-take forms² was used to further contextualise the MOSAIC clients’ experiences of economic abuse. As supported by other studies, the findings suggest that economic abuse has become ‘normalised’ and for many women experiencing economic abuse, a ‘way of life’. Guided by Postmus et al (2011) typology for economic abuse and as described by the MOSAIC service providers, various interdependent forms of economic abuse, including economic controlling behaviour, economic exploitive behaviour and employment sabotage, are experienced by women. Employment sabotage is highlighted in the context of the detrimental effect it has on women’s economic self-sufficiency. However, few women experiencing economic abuse initially engage the legal system for assistance. Rather women approach other informal networks first and as a last means, formal institutional structures. When engaging institutional structures, the accessing of Emergency Monetary Relief remains challenging for women filing an interim protection order and seeking to leave a violent domestic relationship.

Includes bibliographical references.