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Washington state law describes domestic violence as being any criminal act of either sexual, physical, or emotional abuse, neglect or economic control. The first four of these types of abuse are relatively clear and pretty well understood by the general public. However, domestic violence exhibited through economic control is a form of abuse many may not understand.

When the aggressor in a relationship seeks to gain control of his or her significant other, they may go to extremes, using any advantage they have, including money. A partner may choose to gain control of others by limiting financial resources or through threats of financial repercussion. Anytime an individual is made to feel powerless or financially dependent upon another you could argue there is domestic abuse, at least in some sense.

Although there are many ways an abuser gains control of their victims, threats, coercion and manipulation are all tactics commonly seen in cases of economic control. In any case of abuse it can be quite difficult for the abused to come forward with a claim of domestic violence. Some may see economic control as a 'softer' side of domestic violence, but the helplessness and fear this type of abuse can cause may be just as controlling as any other.

Domestic violence is commonly seen as a control mechanism. Abusers may overpower significant others by way of one of the five types of abuse stated above. Economic control may be just as threatening to an individual and their family as any of the other more well-known types of abuse.

If you have experienced domestic violence and are considering divorce there are ways to get and stay safe during and after your divorce. A divorce attorney may be able to file a protection order to be in place for the duration of your divorce.