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Financial Abuse: What is it?

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Pile of money coins in and outside the glass jar with the book on blurred natural green background for financial and education conceptFinancial Abuse is present in over 95 percent of abusive relationships. One of the reasons it’s so difficult to identity is that it can look different in every relationship.

So, what exactly does financial abuse look like, how can we spot it in our relationships and in our friends’ relationships? Here are some common forms of financial abuse:

  • Sabotaging work or employment opportunities by stalking or harassing the victim at the workplace or causing the victim to lose her/his job by physically battering prior to important meetings or interviews.
  • Controlling all money or giving “an allowance.”
  • Running up large amounts of debt on joint accounts.
  • Withholding funds for the victim or children to obtain basic needs such as food and medicine.
  • Stealing the victim’s identity, property, or inheritance.
  • Refusing to pay bills and ruining the victim’s credit score.

This is an adapted list from a much longer list from the National Network to End Domestic Violence.

Financial abuse, one of the most subversive forms of abuse, is made even more difficult to spot when both partners initially agree to the terms of a partnership or marriage. For example, when children are present in a relationship, both parents might agree that one parent will stay home and raise the children, essentially pausing that parent’s career. Later on, it can be more difficult for the stay-at-home parent to leave the relationship due to financial dependence.

The WCA has comprehensive resources that help survivors overcome financial abuse. We have a full time financial literacy educator who teaches comprehensive workshops and does one-on-one financial coaching with our clients. This helps clients move forward in their life and build a financially secure future for themselves and their families.

Learn more about our financial literacy resources here.

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