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What is Financial Abuse?

Financial abuse happens when an abuser takes control of finances to prevent the other person from leaving and to maintain power in a relationship. Financial abuse often occurs in physically abusive relationships. Financial abuse is frequently part of coercive control.

Often a woman does not leave an abusive relationship because she fears she will not be able to provide for herself or her children. Financial abuse can make the victim feel that she cannot leave.

Financial abuse can form part of elder abuse or abuse of women with disabilities, when a relative, friend or caregiver steals money from an older person.


So, what are the signs?

Often, financial abuse is subtle and gradual, making it harder to recognise.

The abuser may act as though taking over the finances is a way to make life easier for you, that you are being done a favour.

Your partner might explain that giving you a set amount of money will keep your family on track financially. Slowly, the ‘allowance’ becomes smaller and smaller and, before you know it, you are asking for money and being refused.

Perhaps you are urged to give up your job or prevented from working.

You are refused access to bank accounts and assets are hidden from you.

You are made to surrender your credit card.

Purchases that you make are constantly questioned and receipts demanded.

Financial decisions are made without consultation.

Your identity is stolen and fraudulent tax returns are submitted with your name attached to them.

False insurance claims are made in your name.

Financial abuse can continue after the end of a relationship with child support being withheld so you can’t afford rent, food and other essential items.

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