Financial or Economic Abuse is probably one of the most undercover types of abuse. It can come in many forms and also spans socioeconomic lines. The term, “Financial (Economic) Abuse” may be new to some of you, so before we begin lets get familiar with what it means.
What is Financial/Economic Abuse?
Financial/Economic Abuse is a form of abuse where the finances are used to control, manipulate and/or oppress another person. It can come in many forms:
- Withholding or control all access to the finances, purchases and budgeting.
- Expecting sex in return for access to the finances or for access to meet basic needs.
- Using the partner’s financial information for personal gain (taking out loans without permission).
- Deliberately not paying the bills to ruin credit standing.
Financial/Economic Abuse is far more widespread that we think. It is also quite common with the elderly population and their caregiver (family member included).
Why Not Just Leave?
Financial/Economic Abuse is a key factor in the answer to this question because Financial/Economic Abuse is often accompanied by Physical/Emotional/Psychological Abuse. Being able to support oneself, and their children (if they have any) is a very crucial component to survival. Perhaps, there is property or inheritance involved. Often times, disability or terminal illness may be a factor – inability to efficiently be cared for is a vulnerability that can facilitate oppression and abuse. The abuser will wield these vulnerabilities as a weapon.
Just because it is your spouse (significant other), or your child, or parent, does not give them the right to withhold your finances, use your name to obtain a loan or some other goods/properties, or demand that you should provide them with something in return. Using threats like: ” it’s your name on the mortgage or lease, so maybe I’ll just stop paying it.” – IS NOT OKAY.
Other forms of Financial/Economic Abuse is when the abuser has total financial control and everything is in their name which could result in having nothing should the relationship end. This can be a very scary reality if someone is in a city where they do not have a support system of their own: no friends, family, job, home, car or money.
Some Financial/Economic Abuse dynamics may involve sex coercion in exchange for basic needs to be met like food, clothing, etc. This type of abuse can occur within any socioeconomic class. There is a level of shame associated with it and therefore, many people suffer in silence as a result.
The National Coalition of Domestic Violence
Below is an excerpt of the Quick Guide: Economic and Financial Abuse by NCDV
Employment-related abuse prevents the victim from earning money by:
- Preventing victim from going to work
- Sabotaging a victim’s employment
- Interfering with a victim’s work performance through harassing activities such as frequent phone calls or unannounced visits
- Demanding that the victim quits her/his job
- Preventing the victim from looking for jobs or attending job interviews
Prevent Victims from Accessing Existing Funds
Abusers also prevent victims from accessing existing funds by:
- Deciding when/how victim can use cash, bank accounts, or credit/debit cards
- Forcing victim to give abuser money, ATM cards, or credit cards
- Demanding that the lease/mortgage or assets be in the abuser’s name
- Using victim’s checkbook, ATM card, or credit/debit cards without the victim’s knowledge
- Preventing victim’s access to bank account(s)
If you would like to learn more about Financial/Economic Abuse or if you believe you or someone you know may need help, please visit the websites listed below.
National Domestic Violence Hotline
How to Identify Financial Abuse in a Relationship
Understanding Financial Abuse and Safety Planning