Financial abuse is a form of domestic violence. It can include controlling all the household spending and financial decisions, or withholding money. Financial abuse can happen to anyone.
If a relationship breaks down, many people often find themselves without any money or have no idea how much money they might be entitled to because they did not have access to the finances in their relationship.
WHAT DEFINES FINANCIAL ABUSE?
Financial abuse is a form of domestic violence. It’s when one person uses power and control over another and is a repeated pattern of behavior. These behaviors can occur between partners or other family members. Many people think of domestic violence as either physical or emotional abuse. However, withholding money, refusing to include you in financial decisions or controlling the household spending can be defined as domestic violence. Financial abuse can be present with physical or emotional abuse, but it can also be present without these other behaviors.
Financially abusive behaviors include:
CONTROLLING A PARTNER OR FAMILY MEMBER’S MONEY:
- Controlling someone else’s finances (e.g. paying the other person an allowance or being in charge of all the household income)
- In control of how the household income is spent
- Making a partner or family member take out a loan in their name
- Making a partner or family member take out a another credit card
- Forcing a partner or family member to work for the family business without being paid or being paid very little
- Fraudulent filing of insurance claims
- Forging a signature on financial documents
- Selling possessions without permission from a partner or family member
STOPPING A PARTNER OR FAMILY MEMBER FROM EARNING THEIR OWN MONEY:
- Stopping a partner or family member from going work or getting a job
- Telling a partner or family member or where they can or cannot work
- Stopping a partner or family member from going to work by physically hurting them or keeping them up all night
- Stopping a partner or family member from studying
- Harassing or stalking a partner or family member’s colleagues
- Harassing a family member at work by phone, text, or by showing up
LIMITING A PARTNER OR FAMILY MEMBER’S ACCESS TO MONEY:
- Denying a partner or family member access to bank accounts
- Denying a partner or family member access to money for basic expenses like medicine or food
- Damaging, destroying, or stealing property
- Accruing debt on joint credit cards or shared accounts
- Withholding financial help like child support payments
- Not contributing to the household income and refusing to work
- Gambling a partner or family member’s money
HOW TO ESCAPE FINANCIAL ABUSE
If you are being financially abused or controlled by a partner, reach out to a trained domestic violence advocate in your area who can help you with a safety plan, find local resources, secure an order of protection, access legal help, and support groups.
BEFORE YOU LEAVE YOUR ABUSER
For a survivor of financial abuse, before you leave, when it’s safe to do so, consider doing these things:
- Setup your own accounts – PO Box, New Credit Card, New Bank Account.
- Gather documents – Drivers License, SSN, Tax Records, Credit Reports, Financial Records, Pin Numbers and Passwords.
- Squirrel Away Money
- Change Beneficiaries on Accounts – Insurance, 401k.
- Make a Budget – Plan Your Expenses. List Everything. Be Overly Conservative.