Financial Abuse


Financial abuse (also called economic abuse) happens when a person exerts financial power and control over a partner or other member of the household (such as an elder or other adult in the home). Financial dependency is one of the most common reasons that a person stays in - or returns to - an abusive relationship.

 A person exerting financial power and control may engage in one or more of the following behaviors: Controls all the household money and or financial decisions;

  1. Keeps everything under his/her name and nothing is under your name; no joint assets;Financial
  2. Prohibits, discourages, or prevents you from getting a job;
  3. Sabotages your ability to keep a job or stay in school;
  4. Gives you an allowance, sometimes even from your own earnings;
  5. Forces you to ask - or beg - for money;
  6. Does not provide enough allowance money to cover necessities such as household expenses, transportation, gas, food, medicine;
  7. Every cent spent must be accounted for, or else;
  8. Dictates what you can and cannot purchase;
  9. Spends money on his/her self but does not allow you to do the same;
  10. Takes money away or requires that your paycheck/welfare check/food stamps be relinquished;
  11. Prohibits or discourages you from furthering your education or increasing your earning potential;
  12. Will not allow you to establish a credit history, or ruins your credit;
  13. Withholds child support;
  14. Keeps household in perpetual state of debt/financial dependence, or always in need of “something bigger” or “something better;”
  15. Forces you to earn money in ways you would not choose for yourself, or forces you to engage in illegal activity such as selling drugs or prostitution;
  16. Uses your credit cards, debit cards, savings, social security checks, tax refunds, etc without your permission;
  17. Uses your social security number to obtain credit without your permission;
  18. Intentionally does not work and requires you to provide all the support;
  19. Does not let you know about or have access to household income and/or financial information;
  20. Forces you to continue to have children with the intent of keeping you “stuck at home” and out of the workforce;
  21. Threatens to leave or sever financial support in order to force you to stay or comply;
  22. Gives you presents and/or pays for things like dinner and expects you to somehow return the favor;
  23. Uses his/her money to overpower you because they know you are not in the same financial situation as they are.

 Only you can know what feels right to you and what is mutually beneficial in your situation. In a best case scenario, the controlling person is unaware that his or her behavior is damaging, inappropriate, or unwelcome and is willing to discuss and correct the issue. In a worst case scenario, these behaviors are part of a strategic power play to control another’s financial and personal freedom, and are often accompanied by emotional and physical abuse.

 What is a healthy economic partnership?

  1. Making money decisions together.
  2. Making sure both partners benefit from financial arrangements.
  3. All parties are free to be financially stable and independent.
  4. All parties are encouraged to improve their education and/or financial situation.
  5. All partners feel valued and equal in the household.

 How you can break free from financial/economic control:

  1. Know the signs of financial abuse and control. Educate yourself on the topic and then determine whether you feel you are being subjected to financial abuse.
  2. If you can safely and productively do so, discuss your feelings with your partner and make a plan to adjust the relationship to your mutual benefit.
  3. If you do not feel you can safely discuss this topic with your partner, or if you would like to speak with someone to help you make a plan, you may confidentially contact Safe Nest at 800-486-7282 or visit our website at to learn more about our counseling and advocacy services.

 Additional Resources: