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What is financial abuse?

What is financial abuse?
May 31, 2023 STER

Financial abuse is a form of domestic violence and abuse that involves controlling or exploiting someone’s financial resources without their consent or against their will. It is often used as a means of exerting power and control over the victim. Financial abuse can occur within various types of relationships, including intimate partnerships, marriages, families, or caregiver relationships.

The effects of financial abuse can be significant and long-lasting, affecting the victim’s financial stability, independence, and overall well-being.

Here are some of the common effects of financial abuse:

  1. Limited Financial Resources: Financial abuse often involves controlling the victim’s access to money, employment opportunities, or financial assets. This can leave the victim with limited financial resources, making it difficult to meet their basic needs, pay bills, or access necessary services.
  2. Economic Dependency: Perpetrators of financial abuse may deliberately create a situation where the victim becomes financially dependent on them. This dependency can trap the victim in an abusive relationship, making it challenging for them to leave or seek help.
  3. Loss of Financial Control: Financial abusers may manipulate or coerce the victim into relinquishing control over their finances. They may open joint bank accounts without consent, demand access to financial accounts, or force the victim to sign financial documents, such as loans or contracts, against their will.
  4. Credit and Debt Issues: Financial abusers may exploit the victim’s identity to obtain credit or loans, leaving the victim burdened with debt they did not incur. This can damage the victim’s credit history and make it challenging for them to secure loans or housing in the future.
  5. Isolation and Dependency: Financial abuse can contribute to the victim’s isolation and dependence on the abuser. Without financial resources, the victim may be unable to maintain social connections, seek support from friends and family, or access help and services.
  6. Emotional and Psychological Impact: The effects of financial abuse go beyond the financial realm and can have a significant emotional and psychological toll on the victim. They may experience feelings of helplessness, shame, guilt, anxiety, and depression. The constant stress and uncertainty about their financial situation can lead to a diminished sense of self-worth and confidence.
  7. Barriers to Leaving the Abusive Relationship: Financial abuse can create significant barriers for victims who want to leave the abusive relationship. The lack of financial resources, economic stability, and control can make it difficult to secure safe housing, access legal support, or provide for themselves and their children.

It is important to recognize that financial abuse is a serious form of domestic violence and can have severe consequences for the victim’s overall well-being. Support, resources, and advocacy are crucial in helping survivors of financial abuse regain control of their finances, rebuild their lives, and break free from the cycle of abuse.


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