Financial abuse is a form of coercive control, used to gain power and control over an individual.
The concept of financial abuse, and how it is carried out, is not fully understood by policy makers. This is evident with the current rules around access to legal aid. The lack of understanding on the use of defamation to inflict financial abuse can leave an individual feeling totally isolated. Defamation with the intent of damaging an individuals career, is a common form of post separation abuse. This can have a severe financial impact on the abused individual.
What is Defamation?
According to the Citizens Information Board, a defamatory statement is a statement that reasonable members of society would think damages your reputation. A statement is not defamatory if it is true or substantially true.
To take legal action against an individual for defamation, the person must have published a defamatory statement about you to at least one other person. ‘Published’ covers all means of communication such as:
- Conversation with another person
- Comments made on social media
- Newspaper articles
- Blog posts
Defamation, when used as a tactic in financial abuse, can have far reaching consequences. Financial abuse is used to exert control over an individual and make it impossible to leave the abusive relationship. If an individual does manage to leave, it can be difficult for them to survive outside of the relationship due to ongoing financial abuse. The manipulation of an individual’s income creates a barrier to financial independence and freedom. Damaging an individual’s reputation through defamatory statements or false accusations can result in the abused individual losing their source of income. This is a form of economic abuse as it leads to long term financial instability for the abused individual by removing their financial security. Economic abuse is much more severe and can leave an abused individual financially destitute for many years. A situation they may never fully financially recover from. You can read more about the difference between financial abuse and economic abuse in one of my previous posts here.
As it currently stands, defamation is not covered by Legal Aid in Ireland. This results in a financial barrier for many seeking justice. The financial barrier to justice prevents individuals regaining financial control and freedom…..
……and so the cycle of coercive control continues!
If you are experiencing any form of abuse, contact Women’s Aid or Men’s Aid to discuss it further. FLAC are also a valuable source of information and offer basic legal advice for free.