When people think about domestic abuse, they usually mean physical or verbal abuse. However, there are more examples of violence in a relationship, one of the most frequent being spouse financial abuse.
By performing this kind of abuse, abusers try to gain control in their relationship, which is why financial manipulation is often the first sign of experiencing domestic violence.
For this reason, everyone should know how to recognize this type of abuse, so we’ve prepared this article for you. Read on!
About Financial Abuse and What Does It Look Like?
We first need to mention that financial abuse can happen to anyone, whether they’re married or just dating. But, it’s essential to note that every person has the right to make independent economic decisions.
However, this abuse rarely happens in isolation since the abusers often use other abusive behaviors to threaten and reinforce economic violence.
One study stated that 99% of women psychologically abused by their partners have experienced financial abuse in a marriage or a relationship.
According to some stats, over 43 million women and 38 million men in the US have experienced psychologically aggressive behavior.
This form of domestic violence involves somebody else handling a person’s spending or access to cash, assets, and finances, leaving them trapped.
The most concerning thing is that a victim is usually too scared to leave the abuser due to the lack of financial means to move on.
Moreover, one survey shows that more than 40% of people don’t understand financial abuse. Because of this, we need to look at all the signs of financial abuse, so keep reading!
Recognizing the Signs of Financial Exploitation
If you’re not sure whether you or someone you know is in a financially abusive relationship, these signs and behaviors can help you:
- Money loss that can’t be explained
- Lacking money for essentials like food, bills, and rent
- Unusual activity and charges on your bank statements
- Incapacity to access your bank accounts
- Isolation from family and friends.
What Is Financial Abuse Behavior?
These are three ways people get abused financially.
Just like with other kinds – physical, emotional, or sexual – abuse, the abusers use intentional manipulation and intimidation to capture victims into a relationship, making them codependent and trapped.
The abuser takes control of the finances
If your partner controls your accounts, this is one of the main signs of financial mistreatment.
By depriving someone of economic independence, the partner leaves them in the dark about where their money goes.
What’s more, financially abusive partners will also try some other tactics when it comes to using their partner’s means, including:
- Forcing you to get credit in your name
- Cashing in your cheques without asking
- Asking you to verify what you’ve spent your money on
- Controlling what you can spend your money on
- Expecting you to take care of their bills or bail them out of difficult situations
- Trying to help with your decisions about finances as a cover for acquiring control over them
- Threatening to accuse you of misusing benefits to the officials.
The abuser interferes with your job
The abuser may forbid the victim to get a job and have access to money. By physically and psychologically abusing the victim, the abuser pushes them to a hopeless situation where they have no choice but to quit their job.
Financial abuse, in this case, may include:
- Telling the victim where they can or can’t work
- Pressuring them to quit their current job
- Sabotaging their work responsibilities
- Distracting them from work by texting, calling, or showing up uninvited
- Hiding the car keys, taking the car without telling them, or sabotaging going to work
Economic Abuse and Exploitation
This type of abuse concerning finances is the most severe since the abuser aims to destroy someone’s credit and financial resources while denying the means to improve their economic status.
The abuse includes:
- Opening a line of credit under the victim’s name without consent
- Not paying the bills under the victim’s name
- Gambling the money they’ve earned together
- Insisting the victim share their income but refusing to share theirs
- Demanding that all large purchases are in the name of the abuser
- Stealing money or property
- Destroying property
- Rejecting to contribute to family costs
- Pushing the victim to file fraudulent tax returns
Who Is At Risk of Financial Exploitation and Who Can Be an Abuser?
The abuse usually occurs when there’s an unequal ratio of power.
While it’s primarily carried out by current or ex-partners, it also happens between relatives, parents and children, caregivers and those in need of care. Most frequently, it’s committed by a man against a woman.
People at risk of experiencing financial violence are usually already victims of another type of domestic abuse or individuals with learning disabilities or medical conditions, often elderly people.
The MetLife Study of Elder Financial Abuse states that the loss of elderly victims of financial exploitation is an estimated $2.9 billion annually.
They can be abused by family, nursing home staff, or even strangers, so it’s essential to pay attention to some of the red flags of elder financial abuse:
- An elderly individual who doesn’t understand their economic situation
- Hesitation to make a will
- Loss of financial material, including credit cards, checkbooks, etc.
- Loss of personal property
- Sudden incapacity to buy food, pay bills, or rent
- The unusual transfer of funds the elder could not have made
- Unpaid bills when money is authorized to a third party
- Misuse of a Power of Attorney
- A person who shows interest in how much money an elderly individual is spending
- Removal of money from a wallet
The Effects of Financial Domestic Abuse
Financial harm could significantly affect an individual’s life, including their physical and mental health, social inclusion, and overall sense of security.
Victims often can’t get medical assistance or buy necessities like clothing or food, leading to mental health issues. Abuse can also leave them in large amounts of debt accrued through shared loans, credit cards, or loans the abuser forced someone to apply for.
What’s more, if the victims are forced to quit their jobs, or their incomes and spending are controlled, it’s harder for them to leave an abusive relationship.
Even if they decide to leave the relationship for good, they often come back since it’s very challenging for them to establish independence, long-term security, and financial stability.
Lastly, even if somehow the victim manages to escape the abusive relationship or marriage, they can be haunted by tax liens, bankruptcies, and bad debt for years.
As we’ve seen, financial manipulation is one of the most well-known forms of coercive manipulation, denying individuals the material means essential for freedom, resistance, and escape.
Missing the early relationship red flags could lead to your partner controlling your finances. Now that we’ve learned about all the signs and consequences, we hope you recognize abuse on time, whether done to you or someone you know.
What is financial abuse?
It is a type of domestic abuse that includes an individual gaining power over their partner. In this case, the abuser manipulates the financial decisions of their partner, takes away their access to money, and uses their earnings without consent.
While it usually happens in a romantic relationship, this abuse can happen to anyone.
What is financial exploitation?
Financial exploitation occurs when an abuser illegally uses an individual’s property or monetary funds by blackmailing them, accumulating debt, stealing, or pressuring someone into giving them money or property.
What is financial manipulation in a relationship?
If one partner wishes to gain power and control spending, this is a form of financial manipulation in a relationship.
It’s one of the most frequent ways to keep a victim trapped in an abusive relationship, by cutting off all financial means and often forbidding the victim to work and provide for themselves.