Interpersonal economic abuse and intra-household inequities in food security

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Power, Elaine
domestic violence , family , public health , poverty
Food insecurity affected over 2.3 million Canadians in 2004. To date, the food security literature has not considered the potential impact of economic abuse on food security, but there are three ways that these two important public health issues may be related: (1) victims of economic abuse are at risk of food insecurity when they are denied access to adequate financial resources; (2) the conditions that give rise to food insecurity may also precipitate intimate partner violence in all its forms; (3) women who leave economically abusive intimate heterosexual relationships are more likely to live in poverty and thus are at risk of food insecurity. This paper presents a case of one woman who spontaneously reported heterosexual interpersonal violence, including economic abuse, during a qualitative research interview. The economic abuse suffered by this participant appears to have affected her food security and that of her children, while her husband’s was apparently unaffected. There is an urgent need to better understand the nature of intra-household food distribution in food insecure households and the impact of economic abuse on its victims’ food security. Such an understanding may lead to improved food security measurement tools and social policies to ameliorate food insecurity.
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