Domestic abuse can take on a variety of different forms. One of the types of abuse that people can suffer when they are in an abusive relationship is financial abuse. Financial abuse is one of the ways that an abusive partner can seek to take control.
What is financial abuse?
Financial abuse is a term which is given when a person takes control of any aspect of another person’s finances when they should not have that level of control. They may be able to gain “permission” to exert this kind of control by using physical violence or emotionally manipulative tactics.
Taking control of a person’s finances reduces their ability to live independently. Many abusers take control of aspects of their partner’s finances in an attempt to make it more difficult for their partner to leave. Lots of people are scared to leave an abusive partner because they are worried that they do not have any money of their own or that they would not be able to understand their own finances.
Financial abuse can actually take on a lot of different forms. As well as taking control of your ability to spend money (withholding funds from you, denying you access to your account etc), an abuser can seek to stop you from earning money of your own. They may stop you from getting a job or they may force you to leave a job which you currently hold.
Another form of financial abuse is building up debts in your name. Debts can affect your credit score and may prevent you from accessing credit later on. This can stop you from taking control of your own life.
Domestic abusers can even continue to financially abuse their partners even after they have separated. They may deny you access to a joint bank account, or they may withhold child support payments. If one partner is wealthy, they may also initial legal fights which they believe that their partner will not be able to challenge, or which they know will bankrupt their partner. There is legal support available for people who are financially abused in this way after their relationship has ended.
Are you being financially abused?
Many people do not know that they are being financially abused, because the abuse is part of a wider strategy of manipulation by the abuser. Ask yourself the following questions to help you to recognise whether you are affected:
- Has your partner taken steps to prevent you from getting a job, or which might cause you to lose your job?
- Did they prevent you from accessing Higher Education or professional training?
- Do they monitor your spending by analysing your bank accounts or asking you to explain how you have spent your money?
- Do they know the log-in details for your bank accounts and do they access your statements without permission?
- Have they withheld login information from you, so that you cannot access a joint account?
- Do they use your money without permission, or steal money from you?
- Have they ever spent your bill money on other things?
- Do they spend money recklessly, but criticise you for any money that you spend?
- Have they ever stolen, damaged or destroyed your personal possessions?
- Do they take control of all financial matters in your household?
- Have they insisted that bills, loans or debts be placed in your name, rather than their name?
- Do they make significant financial decisions without consulting you (such as buying a new car), but also insist that you speak to them before making any purchases at all?
- Do they refuse to pay child support to you, even though they are legally bound to do so?