Financial Abuse: What is It? What to Do?

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With money becoming essentially, the lifeblood of society, and the only real way to a “trouble-free life,” having money gives you power. If you are someone who depends entirely on another person for money or overall well-being, it can be easy to feel at the mercy of that person. Financial abuse occurs when that person in a position of power uses that financial power to force the other person into doing different things.  

This is not to say that any relationship where only one person is providing money is an abusive relationship and that this means everyone should go out and work. Abusive people tend to be that way, regardless of whether or not they have money! Financial abuse tends to be a little different, though than physical abuse, even though at times, they can go hand and hand. 

How To Know If You Are In An Abusive Relationship 

As we mentioned, at times, financial abuse can be different than physical abuse. In domestic violence cases, if you are getting physically hurt by a person, you should find a way of leaving an abusive relationship. In a financially abusive relationship, the person with the money has all of the leverage, so he or she can use that leverage and power to force people to do what they want. 

One of the most common forms of financial abuse in relationships that we see is an act like withholding money. Also, making threats about personal finances often occur. These tend to come in the form of the abusive party threatening to leave their partner on the streets if he or she decides to leave the relationship.

What Is Financial Abuse & What Isn’t?  

The thing with financial abuse is that it can indeed be misinterpreted relatively easily. If one partner in the relationship is alleging financial abuse because their partner has asked them to not buy a new pair of shoes or a new electronic device, this is not financial abuse. Instead, this is sticking to a budget.  

However, if it is a situation where the person who has the money uses that as leverage to get their partner to do things they otherwise wouldn’t do, this could be financial abuse. There are also instances were partners will demand money in return for care and physical affection. Both of these instances are usually accompanied by physical or at least verbal abuse! 

What Can I Do to Avoid Financial Abuse? 

A lot of people want to say that you should never be entirely dependent on others; therefore, if you are getting financially abused, it’s your fault. That is just not the case at all. Financial abuse can happen in virtually all sorts of relationships, not just a husband and wife or couple dynamic

You can be financially abused by your parents or anyone who you are dependent on for money or who is essentially blackmailing you to get money out of you. Becoming more financially independent in a lot of ways can be a good answer, as we said, that’s not always possible. When that is not possible, then you have to find the proper counsel or look for a way to remove yourself from the situation.  

How Can I Remove Myself from A Financially Abusive Situation?  

Removing yourself from this type of situation can be really hard. Ideally, look to use all of the resources at your disposal, with things like family counseling or online counseling. If you’ve mostly burned all of those bridges, or can’t seem to see the end of it, seek out legal help. 

There is a national domestic violence hotline that can help you deal with this type of situation. If, your problems have escalated to the point of physical abuse, call 9-1-1.

Understanding Your Reality & Where You Are At  

Most of the people who are part of organizations that are dedicated to combating financial abuse issues agree that the toughest challenges they face is helping victims realize that there is a problem within their relationships. Sadly, people will only seek help when the issues have substantially escalated to the point where there is physical abuse involved.    

If your relationship is filled with constant verbal abuse and your partner is unjustifiably withholding money from you or taking advantage of financial information like your bank accounts and jeopardizing your personal financial situation, take those first signs of financial abuse and act upon them. Try and talk to your partner into attending at least online counseling. If you think that things are out of hand, seek help from specialized organizations or online counseling.

John S.

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