Financial / Economic Abuse

  • Controlling a victims’ finances to prevent them from accessing resources, working or maintaining control of earnings, achieving self-sufficiency, and gaining financial independence.
  • Interfering with or preventing education, job training, and/or the ability to find and keep a job.

Financial abuse can be very subtle — telling you what you can and cannot buy or requiring you to share control of your bank accounts. At no point does someone you are dating have the right to use your money or tell you how you can spend it.

Economic abuse can manifest itself in many different ways, and abusers can victimize their partners even after they have left the abusive relationship.

Financial / Economic Abuse Includes:

  • Interfering with your work performance through harassing activities, such as frequent phone calls or unannounced visits
  • Giving you an allowance and/or closely watching what you buy
  • Denying you from access to money or the means of obtaining it, to the point that you are entirely dependent on the abuser for food, clothing and shelter
  • Keeping you from seeing shared bank accounts or records
  • Intentionally withholding necessities such as food, clothing, shelter, personal hygiene products, or medication for you or your children
  • Forbidding you to work or limiting the hours you do
  • Forcing you to obtain credit, then ruining your credit rating or future ability to obtain credit
  • Preventing you from going to work by taking your car or keys
  • Getting you fired by harassing you, your employer or coworkers on the job
  • Refusing to allow you to work or attend school, or engaging in activities that make it impossible for you to do so
  • Hiding or stealing your student financial aid check or outside financial support
  • Using your social security number to obtain credit without your permission
  • Stealing from you, defrauding your money or assets, and/or exploiting your financial resources or property for personal gain. See also: Exploitation
  • Placing your paycheck in their account and denying you access to it
  • Using your child’s social security number to claim an income tax refund without your permission
  • Threatening to out an LGBTQ victim in their workplace
  • Maxing out your credit cards without your permission
  • Refusing to give you money, food, rent, medicine or clothing
  • Requiring justification for any money spent and punishing you with physical, sexual or emotional abuse
  • Using funds from your children’s tuition or a joint savings account without your knowledge
  • Refusing to add a child to the insurance
  • Not allowing gift purchases/exchanges on birthdays/holidays especially between the two of you
  • Forbidding you from maintaining a personal bank account
  • Spending money on themselves but not allowing you to do the same
  • Giving you presents and/or paying for things like dinner and expecting you to return the favor.
  • Stealing, selling or destroying yours or your children’s personal belongings
  • Using their money to overpower you because they know you are not in the same financial situation as they are.
  • Refusing to pay you your court-ordered child or spousal support

Domestic violence can be responsible for creating serious obstacles that prevent victims from achieving economic security and/or self-sufficiency. Lack of income is a very common reason that victims use for staying in abusive relationships.

By controlling and limiting the victim’s access to financial resources, an abuser ensures that the victim will be financially limited if he/she chooses to leave the relationship. As a result, victims of domestic violence are often forced to choose between staying in an abusive relationship or facing economic hardship and possibly extreme poverty and homelessness.

FACT: 50% of the homeless women and children in the U.S. are fleeing abuse


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