New research to focus on economic abuse between couples

Scott was encouraging people from diverse backgrounds to take part.
Scott was encouraging people from diverse backgrounds to take part. Photo credit: Getty Images.

Auckland University of Technology (AUT) has launched a new research project to tackle economic abuse between couples.

Economic abuse is a pattern of controlling behaviour where one person restricts the others access to money and financial decisions to maintain a level of power in the relationship.

It is a form of intimate partner violence, for which New Zealand has the highest rates of in the OECD.

AUT senior lecture Ayesha Scott - whose research touched on money and relationships - said there was no specific data around economic abuse.

But some research suggested one in 10 individuals would experience it at some point in their lifetimes, she said.

"That's a very tentative number, I would say it is a lot closer to one in three or one in two."

Money was often a fraught topic in relationships, where finances were often considered taboo and discussions about money led to conflict, she said.

To encourage discussion, she teamed up with financial wellbeing charity Good Shepherd NZ to develop a set of guides and resources to help couples speak about money in a constructive and respectful manner.

The joint research project called "My money, your money... our money? Building a toolkit for Healthy Financial Relationships" has now received a grant from the university to test the effectiveness of the resources.

"We have a toolkit that we've developed and we think its fabulous but we want to make sure it's doing what we want it to do," she said.

Scott was encouraging people from diverse backgrounds to take part in the confidential study in which they would talk openly with their partner about money.

"The second aim is out of the research, as we go through this process, we want to make sure we haven't missed anything, that it's inclusive of everyone's relationship."

Scott said in the future she would want to team up with the likes of banks, debt solution companies and other financial service providers who would advertise the toolkit to their customers.