Featured Study: Debt as a Control Tactic in Marriage
“Coerced debt” is an important but understudied form of intimate partner violence (IPV). It occurs when abusers in intimate relationships use fraud or coercion to generate debt in their partners’ names. For example, abusers may fraudulently incur car loans in their partners’ names or force them to make credit card purchases. Preliminary evidence suggests that coerced debt is a common problem with damaging effects on the lives of women with abusive partners. It can burden victims with hundreds or thousands of dollars in debt and damage their credit ratings, thus creating barriers to employment, housing, and utility services. These debts and barriers may be associated with long-term economic harm in large part because victims of coerced debt have difficulty attaining effective help from the two relevant legal systems: divorce law and debtor-creditor law. Despite these potential impacts of coerced debt, the research remains in its infancy. This project will be the first in-depth study of coerced debt. It will address fundamental questions about how coerced debt operates in abusive relationships, how victims seek and attain legal help for coerced debt, and coerced debt’s effects on women’s recovery from an abusive relationship.
Expand Field Knowledge
The data qualitative data collected in this study will be used to gain a deeper, more nuanced understanding of how victims of coerced debt experience it in the broader context of abuse, facilitators of and barriers to attaining help through the divorce system, and the process by which coerced debt shapes victims’ lives.
In addition to publishing scholarship, the researchers will disseminate the findings to policy makers, service providers, and attorneys with the goal of ensuring that interventions to address coerced debt are evidence-based.