Many of us at one point in our lives have either been in an abusive relationship or have known someone in an abusive relationship. When we think of abuse however, we think of it as either physical or mental. What about financial? Financial abuse is the silent form of abuse and perhaps the most debilitating and crippling of them all. Financial abuse is defined as a form of abuse that is used by abusers to gain power and control in a relationship.
In general it limits the partner’s access to assets and information regarding the family’s finances. In 98% of abuse cases where physical, sexual, mental and intimidation abuse is present, financial abuse is present as well. As with many forms of abuse, it may start slowly and progress over time. Often times it looks like a gesture of love, for example the abuser might say that they will take care of the finances to take some stress off of you as a form of manipulation and promise to give money to the victim every week to spend how they want.
The victim is in love with the partner and trusts them completely and allows this to happen. This scenario can commonly lead to the batterer giving their partner less and less money every week and by the time she wants to take control of her finances, the accounts have either been changed or moved and she no longer has access to her money. This makes it nearly impossible for the victim to be able to leave the partner.
Here are some of the key signs to watch out for:
Monitors Every Penny You Spend – This includes checking the store receipt and change down to the penny. An abusive partner will always ask what exactly you bought and why you bought it.
Gets Angry When You Purchase Something For Yourself – Abusers will often get mad if you purchase something for yourself and get verbally or physically abusive.
Gives You An Allowance – If your partner only gives you so much to spend a week and doesn’t give you access to the checkbook, this is a way of controlling you.
Not Allowing You To Work – If any partner shames you into not working or quitting your job, harasses you at work so you get fired, or refuses to let you work for no legitimate reason, beware.
Using Your Social Security Number – Never under any circumstances let your partner use your social security number. If you find that he or she has opened credit cards or accounts with it, stop the activity immediately and call the police. This is a huge red flag that you are being financially abused.
Using Your Child’s Social Security Number – Using your child’s social security number to use them as an income tax refund is not only illegal but abusive.
Using unauthorized Funds – Using your child’s savings account or your savings account for their own personal use without your permission.
Maxing Out Credit Cards Without Your Permission – Abusers will often use your credit cards without your permission. When questioned, they are very good at manipulating or intimidating you into thinking they should have access to your money. Another warning sign of financial abuse.
Refusing Funds – Refusing to give you food, clothing, rent money or medicine is another way any batterer can financially abuse you.
What can you do if you think you are a victim or know someone who is a victim of financial abuse? If you feel that you might be in danger, call a domestic abuse hotline right away. They have many systems in place to help you.Also tell a family member or a friend who you can trust to help you. Do not stay in an abusive relationship for money. You are not alone and there is help.