Couple sat arguing about money

Understanding financial abuse

17-Apr-2019

Domestic and family violence can take many forms – it can include many different types of behaviour including verbal, physical, sexual, emotional, social, spiritual, and psychological abuse. One form of domestic violence which is often overlooked is financial abuse (also known as economic abuse).

Financial abuse can leave victims isolated and anxious, limiting their independence and their ability to effectively parent or look after basic needs.

Some of the forms and signs of financial abuse may include:

  • Prevented from working
  • Prevented from studying
  • Made to account for all spending
  • Denied access to financial information and account details
  • Excluded from financial decision making
  • Provided an inadequate or small ‘allowance’
  • Coerced into signing documents or making false declarations
  • Denied access to joint property
  • Forced to be the sole income earner
  • Named as the sole account holder on all bills or mortgages
  • Deprived of funds needed for children’s education, food or social events
  • Forced to give access to their salary or pension to their partner

Sometimes financial abuse can be gradual, and hard to recognise when it becomes problematic. It may even start out as a positive form of help at first, e.g. an offer to help with managing finances, but when this help becomes controlling or domineering and leads to a loss of control for the victim it becomes an issue.

For many women, financial abuse can be a major reason for remaining in an abusive relationship, as it can be very difficult to establish independence without adequate funds. This financial instability can also continue after a relationship ends, leaving the victim with ongoing debt or a bad credit rating.

If you think that you may be committing financial abuse or exerting another form of non-physical control, there are some steps you can take to stop it getting out of hand:

  • Learn about it: White Ribbon, MoneySmart, 1800 Respect and Verywell Mind and many other websites provide information that can help you better understand what financial abuse is and the damage it can do.
  • Look for the signs: The above list is a start, but remember signs can be gradual and hard to recognise. Understanding that financial abuse is a form of control is an important first step.
  • Consider other avenues of financial advice and support: It may help to remove your involvement in the financial matters of your partner. There are many services that can help people better manage their financial situation, including the National debt helpline and the Emergency Relief Helpline.
  • Talk about it: Discussing your concerns with a trusted friend, GP or a qualified counsellor can be the start of changing this behaviour. Counsellors on the Changing for Good program can help you better understand this behaviour and how you can stop it.

Changing for Good welcomes new participants who have successfully completed a men’s behaviour change program and want extra support in their efforts at change. We also welcome participants who have difficulty accessing a men’s behaviour change program for a variety of reasons. Just call 1300 015 120 and leave a message with your name and contact details and one of the team will follow up with you.

Get Help

For support in maintaining change and building violence-free relationships,
contact Changing for Good to find out how we can help.

Simply call to leave your details or download the expression of interest form and email it to us.