Financial abuse is a somewhat sinister sort of abuse since it traps its victims in a position of codependence without allowing any semblance of the individual identity, almost like stripping a person of who they are in an effort to gain control over their activities.
As with any form of abuse, those around the couple see the appearance of a healthy, ordinary partnership. The “victims” seldom discuss their circumstances, primarily due to embarrassment over the fact that they need to be financially responsible to their mate to the point of requesting money for the slightest of purchases or needing to answer for each dime that leaves the home.
How did these mates get into these situations? In most instances, a “mom” in a family relationship is forced by the spouse to give up her career to stay at home for the children’s sake, ultimately making her utterly reliant on her spouse.
Now, in instances where there are no children, mates enduring financial abuse are often forced to take paths in their careers they would not have chosen for themself, disallowing independence or individual financial stability. In either situation, the abuser’s goal is solely control.
Typical financial abuse scenarios
Financial abuse is insidious behavior. You might not notice that it’s happening until you’ve already either left a career behind to stay at home or have gone into a career that is not your chosen field. Some of the most common situations that involve financial abuse include:
1. Career paths for the financially abused
Typically when a mate is financially abused, there is no opportunity to work in a career that makes them happy. Either there is a choice to be a stay-at-home mom, or the spouse will choose what field the victim is “allowed” to enter.
Suppose the individual is fortunate enough to obtain full-time employment. In that case, the abuser will often find a way to sabotage the opportunity, offering an ultimatum that the job is sacrificed or the partnership will end.
In a sense, these mates give up their individualism in favor of becoming utterly reliant on the abuser, eventually losing their identity in a manner of speaking.
- Read also: Why is my husband negative about everything
2. Any money that leaves the home needs to be accounted for in detail
The victims in this scenario have to account for each cent they receive for purchases of the supplies that come back into the home. If there is any money that can’t be spoken for, the abuser will proceed to physically or emotionally abuse (most likely both) as repercussions for the missing money.
Further consequences include receiving less money or needing to beg for financial support. The devastation that comes with feeling as though you’re trapped in a home without money for necessities, including food, can become crippling, forcing compliance with the “rules” so there are no consequences.
3. Personal bank accounts are forbidden
Money for the victim is provided from one resource, and those funds are used for things that come back into the household for use by the family. The individual is not permitted to have anything that might constitute independence. That would include personal banking accounts like savings or checking, nor is debit card use permitted.
The suggestion is that the “victims” are to live roughly speaking from “hand-to-mouth” depending on the abuser basically for their existence. There is no individual identity. If there is a career, checks go to the abuser, who will deposit the money into an account that the mate has no access to; genuinely absurd.
4. Threats of abandonment
With the full knowledge that their partner is incapable of self-support, the abuser will continually bring threats of abandonment or that financial support will be withheld in case their level of control has in any way started to weaken.
This is the spouse’s way of regaining a sense of power over the victim because without that support, or if the spouse were to leave, the mate would be helpless. The tactics work, instilling fear and keeping the abuse active since the victim has no way to walk away from the situation.
5. Family entanglement
The abuser in this relationship ensures that the mate has a child now and again to avoid the possibility of them being able to return to a career. Daycare would be too costly, and the partner would not consider being the one to stay home with the children.
In this particular situation, there are ways that a mate could still engage in a career while watching the children, possibly, at least on a part-time basis remotely, unless this in some way puts safety and security at risk.
What can be done about financial abuse?
No one should be reliant on one person for their survival. Situations should never get out of control to the point that someone’s safety and security are at risk. Of course, there are scenarios where abuse gradually grows over time where you don’t realize it’s happening until it’s gotten beyond what you can handle alone.
In those instances, when you do become aware, it’s vital to reach out for help. However you can find to do so, even if it’s merely walking away with the clothes on your back to go to a safe place.
If you have children, call for assistance so you can all be taken to safety. Let’s look at a few tips on what steps you can take when you find yourself a victim.
Leave this situation. You might have to plan over some time how you will make your move, or you can quickly walk away to a safe place. A partnership like this is not likely to become better or develop into something equitable. It is also not a genuine possibility that you will be able to rebuild a level of trust for this person.
Safety and security
It might be difficult to find friends if you’ve been isolated. But that’s not generally typical in financial abuse. Usually, in these situations, the abuser wants the appearance to be that you’re the epitome of the ordinary, healthy, happy couple. That’s the image they portray to those surrounding you. The expectation is that you will also present that face.
That means there will be close friends, relatives, and perhaps even a church that you attend as a family with whom you can reach out when attempting to start over.
One of these units will surely be able to provide a place for you to stay until you can get back on your feet financially, emotionally, and psychologically, in every way. It would be best to stick with those who are more impartial than those who were mutual friends since they will have opinions and judgments.
Focus on a career
If you’ve lost your place in the career you had been pursuing, try to get a vocational education or attend a continuing education program. If these aren’t an option for you, start slowly with online classes while you pursue employment temporarily in another field while going through the curriculum.
For moms who have small children, there are many free programs available for kids while you work and attend school, plus relatives are always open to watching the little ones.
Open a secret bank account
You don’t have to take money from the household to put in the account. Still, you can reach out to friends, family, and people you are intimately close with for donations that you can slip into the fund to build up savings to leave with some money to start over.
You can also get a secret, secured credit card that you can keep with a family member making purchases that you also leave with your relative to establish credit for yourself.
If you haven’t been helping with managing the household finances, the bank account and the credit card will give you some experience. Plus, you can consider taking a finance course online to teach you what you should know about money and management.
Financial abuse is something some of us have never heard of and are exceptionally taken aback by the fact there are spouses capable of trapping their mates into such vulnerable positions.
A partner is supposed to be your biggest fan, the one who builds you up, encourages, motivates, and hopes to help you be the best version of yourself.
That’s likely why this form of abuse is seldom spoken of because the individual who does it out likely suffers from such low self-esteem and lacks confidence in their own abilities that they need to basically enslave another individual with whom they can exude exceptional power and control over because in their outside life they have very little.
For those who are victims of this individual, it is necessary for you to walk away and find your own identity again. If you have children, don’t expose them to such a role model, or they could grow up to have this similar personality. Take the control and power back.