Addressing the financial impacts of family violence

November 25, 2022

Rachel Williams, from Hutt Valley Women’s Refuge, has been regularly referring clients to Good Shepherd NZ’s new economic harm support service.

Rachel shares her thoughts about why the service is crucial to helping her support her clients to get back on their feet again.

People underestimate how common it is for people to weaponise money and use it as a form of control. Almost all of my clients need support for economic and financial harm. This new service is filling a massive gap – massive.

Previously when economic and financial harm was involved, we would go to budgeting specialists who weren’t trained with a social lens or the knowledge of how to work with people experiencing trauma and family harm. Often, they would unintentionally make situations harder.

We also maybe had the option of MSD, but a lot of the time our clients can’t access MSD because they don’t have a low enough income. There really was no economic or financial support pathway for people in abusive relationships before this service.

This new economic harm support service brings an informed perspective that doesn’t judge.

Instead, it understands trauma and the client’s point of view; and it knows how to navigate New Zealand’s financial and legal landscape to get the right outcome for our clients. It brings empathy, and solutions, and builds financial capability for people experiencing family violence.

If we can give people financial security and confidence, we can help them leave their abusive relationships.

What I particularly like about this service is it works alongside the support we’re already providing.

It’s collaborative. It means we’re not crossing over, we’re both working to get the best outcome for this person who is experiencing family harm. I have my expertise and the service brings theirs.

It means it’s filling a gap and not repeating the work of other services – and I can’t understate just important this gap is.

I also know the service will help people recognise they’re being abused. It encourages people to reach out for help with money and if you think about it, asking a question about money is far less of a jump compared to calling Women’s Refuge to access a safe house.

When they engage with the service, they come away with an understanding that actually, what they’ve been experiencing isn’t okay and take the conversation forward from there.

I am thrilled that the economic and financial challenges of family harm are finally being addressed. It’s already helping so many people find their feet again and in the long-term, it will really make a huge difference.

Finding support

Sad woman being comforted by a friend

If you are concerned about economic harm or want to talk to someone about the money side of your relationship, our Economic Harm Specialists are trained in advocacy and understand the impact of economic harm. 

To speak to an Economic Harm Specialist, call  0800 466 370 and select option 4.

Or you can click here to find more support