Panel Paper: The Wonderwall of Economic Intimate Partner Violence

Friday, April 7, 2017 : 3:15 PM
Founders Hall Room 470 (George Mason University Schar School of Policy)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Nicholas Patrick Mastron, George Washington Institute of Public Policy
While both scholars and practitioners acknowledge physical, mental, social, and psychological tactics common to intimate partner violence (IPV), this personal violence also frequently results in economic abuse patterns. Existing government publications and academic research generally focuses on economic impact modeling of intimate partner violence, ignoring the personal micro-economies of those suffering the abuse. Conversely, front-line IPV service providers prioritize client care over data aggregation, often preventing measures and forms of economic abuse from being fully realized.

Why even consider these more technical concerns when society generally views IPV as deserving of academic, government, nonprofit, and private sector resources to prevent further incidence? By pinpointing economic abuse patterns and then modeling these patterns’ effects on economies—from personal to national—survivors acquire a more robust civil procedure doctrine regarding consequential (actual) damages. Currently, lost productivity forms the basis of what little consequential damages are typically awarded. However, economic IPV adversely impacts not only workplace contractual commitments, but also personal finances as well as other economic obligations. Should courts accept identification of these economic abuse tactics their magnitudes, survivors would enhance their legal standing and personal protection in these cases.

Therefore, this study employs a multiple-methods approach to understand how economic forms of intimate partner violence affect individuals’ incurred damages. Utilizing the problem definition literatures of political science and sociology, this paper first conducts a meta-evaluation of Department of Justice and academic research publications to detect commonalities in defining forms, relations, and magnitudes of economic IPV forms. These publications currently represent the dominant cross-sectoral and collaborative efforts to document intimate partner violence’s economic effects.

From the meta-evaluation, several trends emerge: 1) the extent of debt coercion and credit manipulation; 2) the use of children as a deterrent to female labor force participation; 3) workplace harassment; and 4) immigration bartering.

These results are then incorporated within semi-structured interviews of IPV service providers. The composition of these interviews encompasses intersectional geographic diversity to both underscore trends within service providers’ conceptualizations of economic IPV and to highlight the intersectional differences in legal rights afforded to involved parties in various locales. Furthermore, the study embraces a standpoint epistemology in conducting the interviews to better identify precise reasons for why service providers ostracize these economic forms of IPV, leading to new intersectional norm constructions and impact realizations.

Preliminary results from the interviews suggest that jurisdictions and service providers who better recognize economic forms of intimate partner violence associate with increased consequential damage awards to survivors, increased survivor likelihood to pursue initial civil court action, improved coordinated community responses, and greater legal resource availability for survivors.