Financial abuse, or economic abuse is a very common form of abuse especially among married couples. It’s possible to see financial abuse in almost all relationships in which there’s emotional and physical abuse. Like all the other types of abuse, its aim is to empower and control the other. It’s hard to find a tool more effective than money in order to control someone.
Again, like all other types of abuse financial abuse can go both ways. However, since we’re still a patriarchal society it’s usually women who end up being financially abused. In fact, in some families the financial abuse the woman suffers from does not even count as abuse and is normalized by the rest of the family and the society.
20 common financial abuse cases in bilateral relationships:
1. Preventing one’s partner from working: This is perhaps the most common method of financial abuse.
A lot of people say that they don’t want their partner to work or there’s simply no need for them to work even at the very beginning of the relationship. Thus, they take away their partner’s economic freedom from the very beginning and make sure they’re financially dependent on them.
2. Preventing one’s partner from continuing their education: In this way, they can prevent their partner from earning enough money to be dependent even if they’re somehow allowed to work.
3. Calling and texting them frequently when they’re at work: By doing this, they deliberately keep their partners busy or make it harder for them to focus on their work. These calls and texts may include things like “it’s just because I miss you”.
4. Making decisions about one’s partner’s career on their behalf: People should make such decisions themselves. Doing it for them counts as abuse.
5. Making degrading comments about one’s partner’s job or workplace: It’s an attempt at putting them off their work.
6. Demanding they should quit work and stay at home to take care of the kids: In some family dynamics, it’s natural for one of the parties to work and earn money for the household and the other to take care of the children. But it counts as abuse if one of the parents wants to work even if they have children and yet they’re ‘prevented’ from doing so.
7. Trying to sabotage one’s partner’s responsibilities: Causing someone to be late to work, making them leave early or call in sick count as sabotaging their career. If you’re working from your house or if you bring work home, they can find a way to keep you busy and distracted.
8. Visiting one’s partner too often when they’re at work: Visiting their workplace too often, expecting them to ditch their work for their partner, observing their colleagues and bosses, distracting them from their tasks count as controlling and pressuring one’s partner.
9. Deciding on important matters on one’s own: For example; they can decide to move out of town together or buy a mutual house without consulting their partner and then force them to submit. People who are forced to move elsewhere may have to leave their careers behind. They can also feel the need to be more careful about spending money on other things if they’re going to buy a new house. Therefore, not asking their opinion on it before making such a radical decision is to control the other.
10. Criticizing one’s partner’s financial decisions and ‘offering their help’: Manipulators who are more passive-aggressive can criticize their partners subtly and ‘offer to help’ in an attempt to control their partner’s income.
11. Controlling one’s partner’s money: In a lot of families, there’s a joint bank account where all the household needs are provided by. But if you’re in an abusive relationship, your joint bank account may leave you more vulnerable to manipulation. Your entire income and outgoings can be tracked by your partner. They can receive text messages or e-mails whenever you spend a penny and you may find yourself in a situation where you have to explain every single one of your expenses.
Besides, having your money controlled by another would make it harder for you escape this relationship. There’s a huge difference between leaving someone who’s abusive and leaving someone who’s psychologically healthy. In most cases, escaping an abusive relationship requires a good plan and a certain amount of money.
12. Checking all the expenses of one’s partner: Tracking all your outgoings means knowing exactly what you’re doing and where.
13. Practicing double standards when it comes to expenses: Manipulators can criticize you all the time about your expenses or try to control them whereas preferring to be independent themselves.
14. Making one’s partner ask for money whenever they need it: If it’s a relationship where only one of the parties (who’s also a manipulator) earns money, they can expect their partner to ask for their money each time. By doing that, they constantly try to remind the other of the fact they are the one who brings money and that they should be grateful for it.
15. Wanting their partner to inform them or to ask for their permission for every single expense: Everyone needs a little bit of financial independence. For expensive ones, the family members can sit down and decide all together but it counts as abuse if your spouse demands to know every single thing you buy or if they expect you to ask for their ‘permission’ whenever you’re buying something.
16. Demanding to be the sole owner of the expensive things bought together: Let’s assume you bought a house or land together. They can insist on having the certificate of the ownership solely for themselves.
17. Threatening to cut money: If only one of the parties earn money, the other one can’t help but be dependent on them in order to survive. And when this person is a manipulator, they can use this against their partner. They can insist on the things only they want and threaten to cut money when something doesn’t serve them well.
18. Demanding to know one’s spouse’s credit card passwords: Information such as credit card and bank account passwords are private, and they should remain as such. It’s boundary violation to insist on knowing these things or using various tricks to acquire this knowledge.
19. Stealing from one’s partner: Taking money out of a partner’s wallet or bank out (without their knowledge and consent) whether it’s a small amount or not is an obvious economic abuse.
20. Expecting one’s partner to solve their economic problems: For instance, someone may be on the verge of bankruptcy because of poor judgement or they might have lost a lot money while gambling or they might have spent more than they earn. In any case, our economic problems are our responsibility. Our partner or spouse is free to choose to help us or not. If someone expects you to solve every single one of their economic problems or if they’re avoiding taking responsibility for their own mistakes, they’re a burden.
Why is financial abuse so dangerous?
The victim finds it hard to leave the abuser. Even if they’re severely abused in a physical way, it’s quite hard for them to choose to leave their abusive partner when they cannot provide for themselves. Abuse victims need a safe plan to escape and that plan usually requires money. Besides, even if they somehow manage escaping, they either end up returning to the abuser or becoming a target for another manipulator.
If the victim has children, they live with the fear of not being able to provide for them or losing their custody.
As a result; being economically independent will help us decide for ourselves, to build our own lives and be free in every way.
You can also find the articles on https://medium.com/@narsistsiz:
Very Well Mind. “How to Identify Financial Abuse in a Relationship”. Access 27 October, 2018. https://www.verywellmind.com/financial-abuse-4155224.
Nnedv. “About Financial Abuse”. https://nnedv.org/content/about-financial-abuse/.
You can also check out my other articles on forms of abuse: