Date of Award


Document Type

Honors Thesis (Colby Access Only)


Colby College. Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program


Professor Sonja Thomas

Second Advisor

Professor Christel Kesler


In June 2019, Maine passed the Act to Provide Relief to Survivors of Economic Abuse (APRSEA), which provides new ways for supporting victims and survivors of domestic abuse through an understanding of and restitution for economic abuse, a type of abuse which 99% of domestic abuse survivors have experienced. To examine the impact of economic abuse, my senior honors thesis engages in a mixed methods approach to study the intersections of divorce, poverty, and domestic abuse through an analysis of secondary sources and two interviews. My thesis begins with proving the gendered economic effects of divorce in the context of the history of marriage and feminist theory and moves on to examine family law through the lens of feminist legal theory to determine the roots of inequality after divorce. I specifically examine the issue of child custody, and then apply these knowledges to examine how family courts deal with domestic abuse. Finally, I study economic abuse in the state of Maine using the Report on the Impact of Economic Abuse on Survivors of Domestic Violence in Maine, which was created and published by the Maine Coalition to End Domestic Violence, and examine the passage and effects of the Act to Provide Relief to Survivors of Economic Abuse. This thesis closes with a series of recommendations to lessen the economic inequality of divorce, increase equality in family court, and better support survivors of domestic and economic abuse. Domestic and economic abuse are particularly salient issues in the current climate of COVID-19, as job losses increase economic insecurity and domestic abuse victims are made to isolate with their abusers.


domestic abuse, financial abuse, divorce, poverty, custody, gender