Sexually Transmitted Debt
Leaving an abusive relationship can be fraught. But when a person has finally made the break from his or her abuser, they may still be mired in the former partner’s debt – often with little legal recourse.
Poor credit ratings, gas and electricity disconnection, loss of property and even bankruptcy – these are some of the serious side effects of economic abuse. It’s a form of family violence that is under-examined, despite its crippling long-term effects.
How can our financial institutions and justice system do better to help those impacted by economic abuse? How do we raise the profile of this common but under-reported area of covert abuse? And what precautions should all of us take when entering into new life stages and new relationships?
Santilla Chingaipe hosts a frank and informative conversation with Larke Riemer – who has knowledge of the issue from both sides, through her work in the finance industry and as someone who has personally incurred ‘sexually transmitted debt’ – Donna Letchford from Women’s Legal Service Victoria, and economic abuse survivor Christine Craik.
Zambian-born Santilla Chingaipe is an award winning journalist and documentary filmmaker. She spent seven years working for SBS World News, which saw her reporting from Kenya, South Sudan, Tanzania and Zambia and interviewing some of Africa’s most prominent leaders.
She reports extensively on Australia’s diverse African community and recently presented a one-off documentary for SBS, Date My Race, which aired in February. Santilla is currently directing and producing documentary on the complexities of Australia’s South Sudanese community.
Larke Riemer has been a CARE Australia Director since 2015. Until recently, she was Director, Women’s Markets, for Westpac Banking Corporation.
She spent over 31 years with the Westpac Group, is a regular commentator in the media on issues relating to women and the female economy and has been awarded a Lifetime Recognition Award for her Outstanding Contribution to Women and Banking. She was the preliminary judge of Australian Financial Review & Westpac 100 Women of Influence Awards. She's the current Chair and Global Ambassador of the Global Banking Alliance for Women in Banking, with previous board involvement with Diversity Board, Allen Linklater and NBCF Advisory Board.
Donna Letchford is a financial counsellor at Women’s Legal Service Victoria, working with women who are dealing with family violence and predominantly economic abuse. She became a financial counsellor in 2001 after a career in the banking industry of over two decades.
In her work at Women's Legal Service Victoria, she has been able to obtain significant outcomes in reducing/waiving family violence client's debt, and play a significant role in assisting women in rebuilding their lives after violence.In 2016, she was awarded the Financial and Consumer Rights Council’s Virginia Noonan Award for this work.
Christine Craik is a social worker, working mainly in health and crisis work with women and children dealing with family violence and/or child sexual abuse. She has worked for 12 years in the response team at the Alfred Hospital, working with families of trauma patients.
Christine lectures in the social work undergraduate and postgraduate programmes at RMIT University, and teaches the ‘Working with Violence and Abuse’ subject. She is currently the National Vice President of the Australian Association of Social Workers (AASW) and has been on the Board of the AASW since 2011. She is also the Chair of Project Respect, an organisation that works to support women and girls who work in, or who have been trafficked into sex work.
Christine is currently completing her PhD in the field of family violence, looking at the ways in which health professionals can improve identification of presentations of family violence in the emergency department setting. She is a survivor of family violence.