For October’s Domestic Violence Awareness Month, I am continuing a series on the various abuses. Now, I will proceed with the next abuse: “Financial Abuse” or “Economic Abuse.”
Financial abuse or economic abuse is another form of domestic abuse. Withholding money, stealing money, excessive use of money, and restricting the use of money are some examples of financial abuse. It includes excessive debt, excessive purchases, overuse of credit cards, controlling your paycheck, not including you in the details of household resources, asking for receipts to account for all the money you spend, and even withholding physical resources from you like food, clothing, and personal necessities. By cutting off the intended victim’s access to money, freedom and choice, the abuser controls the victim.
Financial abuse can include several forms and is accompanied by psychological and emotional abuse. People don’t always recognize the problem. Abusers might select a vulnerable victim who is unlikely to realize what’s happening. Some of these include elderly financial abuse where the abuser hopes to get access to the elder’s financial information. In marriages, financial abuse also includes using his wife’s financial assets to his advantage and spending money needlessly and excessively. Then in the workplace, economic abuse also goes a step further when employers unfairly fire and “black-ball” good workers for their own advantage, affecting the workers’ wage earning capacity.
In relationships, financial abuse even includes a spouse willfully not working to support his family, forcing the other spouse to carry the burden of financial support. These are all forms of emotional abuse as well, and an abuser not only breaks down the victim emotionally, but also financially. Many women have fled their homes in secret with their children with only the shirts on their back to escape abuse and have to start all over.
As you can see, financial abuse can take on several forms and can lead to emotional and financial brokenness, homelessness and other economic downfalls for its victims. When a victim is being abused and tries to get away from her abuser, she has to have a plan. After a woman tries to leave, her abuser may use her credit card and social security number to track her down. Unfortunately, we live in a world of “plastic access” like debits and credit cards so our moves are traceable. Many of these situations have the potential for violence and the victim has to be very careful, seeking guidance and assistance with a well thought out plan.