The fight against financial abuse

Fighting financial abuse
Fighting financial abuse

A big, often overlooked, aspect of domestic violence is financial abuse, when the abuser denies his victim access to financial resources, according to Allstate's John Rugel.

In fact, about 98 percent of domestic violence cases include financial abuse, he said in an interview with "Closing Bell."

That abuse can mean control of the finances and forcing victims to hand over their paychecks.

"Typically it also means destroying credit, harassment at the job so they can't get free," said Rugel, Allstate's senior vice president of life customer fulfillment and underwriting.

"If you think about it, your finances are your lifeblood. So you need that to live and if you don't have access to finances or understanding your finances, then you can't live or break free from those relationships."

Rugel explained that his mother was a victim of domestic and financial abuse.

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For the past 10 years, The Allstate Foundation has been working to educate women and help them break out of abusive relationships with its "Move Ahead" curriculum. So far, it has spent over $40 million helping over 580,000 survivors, Rugel said.

He stressed that it is important for women to understand their finances and start putting money away, hidden from their abusers.

He said it is also important to start teaching children early about finances because financial illiteracy is part of the problem.

"The longer the abuser holds onto the finances the more illiterate [the victims] become, or they forget or they don't have access to the information … and they go back to those relationships," he said.

"It goes back to the premise of 'I need my finances to get out and if I don't have my finances then I can't break free.' "