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Cost of living, housing crisis compounds issues of economic abuse: organization

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A Canadian organization is urging the country to stand with survivors and end domestic economic abuse.

The Canadian Centre for Women's Empowerment (CCFWE), a non-profit organization, said the issue needs a "call to action."

Economic abuse is an "insidious" and "overlooked" form of domestic violence that disproportionately impacts women, immigrants, refugees, Indigenous and gender-diverse people, the press release reads.

The press release notes that almost all survivors of gender-based violence endure economic abuse rates ranging from 94 to 99 per cent.

"Economic abuse, experienced by almost all survivors of gender-based violence, has far-reaching consequences on victims' ability to break free from cycles of abuse," the release says.

Economic abuse can look like being denied access to bank accounts, barred from information and decision-making rights or having severely "curtailed" spending choices, the CCFWE website reads.

"Imagine being trapped in a situation where someone has control over all your finances," Marci Ien, Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Youth, said in the press release. "They decide what you can buy, they decide where you can go. They decide how you live your life. Unfortunately, this is the reality for many victims of intimate partner violence."

According to the press release, Minister Ien wants to "shine a light" on the issue. The CCRWE said that a "confluence of factors" has contributed to higher gender-based violence rates.

This includes rising inflation, scarcity of affordable housing, food prices and strained assistance programs, the release reads.

"We know it disproportionately impacts women, newcomers, Black, Indigenous and gender-diverse people," Ien said. "Economic Abuse leaves survivors with debt, no financial resources, and is one of the primary

reasons that victims return to their abusers."

This comes as Canada marked Economic Abuse Awareness Day on Sunday.

The day is meant to recognize survivors, advocates and political leaders in a "collective effort" to eradicate economic abuse.

The day was first initiated in 2019 by CCFWE with this year's theme focusing around rising costs.

"The acknowledgment of Economic Abuse Day is critical to achieving the National Action Plan to End Gender-Based Violence," Executive Director of CCFWE, Meseret Haileyesus, said in the press release. "The lack of awareness and policies concerning economic abuse and injustice poses a substantial barrier for women to access financial institutions, legal entities, and social support systems." 

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If you or someone you know is in crisis, here are some resources that are available.

Canada Suicide Prevention Helpline (1-833-456-4566)

Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (1 800 463-2338)

Crisis Services Canada (1-833-456-4566 or text 45645)

Kids Help Phone (1-800-668-6868)

If you need immediate assistance call 911 or go to the nearest hospital.

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