4 signs of financial abuse how to get out

Financial abuse is a common form of domestic abuse that often remains unseen. Many people think of physical and verbal violence when they think of domestic abuse, but study shows that financial abuse happens just as often in unhealthy relationships.


As it turns out, a study by the Centers for Financial Security found that 99% of cases of domestic violence also involved financial abuse. Even scarier, is the fact that financial abuse is often the first sign of domestic violence and relationship violence. So, knowing how to spot the signs of financial abuse is very important for your safety and health.


Financial abuse revolves around the exertion of control over a victim's financial resources, including their ability to acquire, use, and maintain these resources. Victims subjected to financial abuse are frequently hindered from working.

Despite being less acknowledged than other forms of abuse, financial abuse is a potent tool for ensnaring a victim within an abusive relationship. Research reveals that victims frequently worry about their financial capability to support themselves and their children, which often deters them from ending the relationship. In fact, financial instability ranks as one of the primary factors compelling women to return to an abusive partner.

It's essential to acknowledge that men can also fall victim to abuse, including financial abuse, which is recognized as a form of domestic violence. Studies suggest that approximately 1 in 7 men aged 18 and older experience some form of domestic violence.

The majority of research on domestic violence focuses on traditional cisgender male-female relationships. Nonetheless, domestic abuse in same-sex relationships occurs at a rate comparable to that in heterosexual relationships.

Financial abuse can infiltrate a romantic relationship insidiously, often evading immediate detection. In a Reddit thread, individuals shared their own encounters with partners who restricted their access to personal funds, appropriated their earnings, or accumulated debts in their name.

For many victims, recognizing that they were enduring financial abuse was a protracted journey, further complicated by the challenge of convincing others that something was amiss.

One Reddit user recounted their experience: "He initially started pilfering my debit card while I was asleep or in the shower, using my money to address his needs while unemployed. As soon as he secured a job, his abuse intensified. He withheld my debit card from me, denying me any access to my own money, despite having his own bank account."


Overall, financial abuse is very isolating because victims often become financially dependent on their abusers. This financial dependence traps them in the relationship. Without resources, they are unable to see a way out of their situation.

Hopefully, analyzing abusive behavior is much easier, than to find a cheating wife. Below are four prevalent manifestations of financial abuse, along with guidance on safeguarding against it and steps to recover from such exploitation.

1.Total Financial Control

In some relationships, it's common for one partner to assume the role of the financial manager, overseeing budgeting and expenditure tracking. However, when this control is wielded excessively, to the detriment of the other partner's access to financial resources, it becomes an issue.

This kind of abuse makes it harder for the victim to handle their own money, so they can't meet their basic needs. The abuser might say this is because they are "taking care" of the money, but they won't tell the victim how the money is being spent.

The National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV) notes that after gaining control, the abuser may provide an "allowance" but gradually reduce it. Over time, this reduction can deprive the victim of essentials like food and medicine.

2. Employment Hindrance

To block victim's financial independence, abuser may prohibit them from working or sabotage their current job. Tactics can range from harassing the victim at their workplace to subjecting them to physical abuse before significant work-related events, leaving them unprepared and distracted, if they can make it to work at all.

According to a 2003 report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), women in the U.S. lose nearly 8 million days of paid work annually due to violence inflicted by current or former partners.

Employment sabotage may coerce the victim into quitting their job, rendering them financially vulnerable and dependent on the abuser. The abuser may also obstruct the victim from seeking employment or attending job interviews.

3. Economic Exploitation

Among the most severe forms of financial abuse is economic exploitation. In these cases, the abuser deliberately wreaks havoc on the victim's financial resources and credit history. This can entail opening a line of credit under the victim's name without consent, refusing to pay bills in their name, or squandering jointly earned money.

Often, the victim has no access to their financial accounts, rendering them oblivious to these activities. Such behavior can devastate the victim's credit, making it challenging for them to secure financial products like credit cards, auto loans, or mortgages in the future. The victim might grapple with issues such as bankruptcies, tax liens, and accumulated bad debt.

4. Forced Debt

Another type of economic exploitation is coerced debt, in which the abuser forces the target to open credit lines or make financial transactions in their name. This is when threats of harm to the target or their children can be used as a bargaining chip.

Forcibly taking on debt is hard to prove and get back because it's hard to show that the victim did not agree to the transactions, especially when they happen online.

The National Consumer Law Center (NCLC) advises victims of coerced debt to file an identity theft report with the Federal Trade Commission and, if safe, with local law enforcement. Supporting documents such as letters from sexual assault counselors, domestic violence shelters, victim advocates, or healthcare providers can assist victims in their case.


If you find yourself in a situation involving financial abuse, there are proactive measures you can take to safeguard yourself. While leaving the relationship is often the most effective solution, there are additional strategies available to protect yourself and seek assistance:

  • Guard Your Personal Information: Get in touch with your bank and credit card company to request changes to your account details, including your PIN and access codes. Once these adjustments are made, refrain from sharing them with anyone else.
  • Review Your Partner’s Personal Information: You can check your partner’s financial background with Listing Locator. The primary purpose for this service is to help people learning about their partner’s online behavior, giving them numerous ways to catch a cheater.
  • Prepare for the Future: There are things you can do to get ready for the future if you can't leave your abuser right away. You might want to open a new account and hide money there so your abuser can't get to it.


  1. Adams A.E. Measuring the Effects of Domestic Violence on Women’s Financial Well- Being
  2. University of Michigan. Stop Abuse. About Domestic Violence: Same-Sex Abuse
  3. Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Financial Abuse
  4. National Domestic Violence Hotline. Men Can Be Victims of Abuse Too
  5. Howard M, Skipp A. Unequal, Trapped & Controlled: Women’s Experience of Financial Abuse and Potential Implications for Universal Credit. Women’s Aid
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