We have all heard of domestic abuse – and this conjures up images of women with bruises and scars to most minds. But domestic abuse is so much more than this. Not only can it affect men too, but it can also extend beyond the physical and the emotional. In fact, according to Women’s Aid and The Domestic Abuse Report 2019, out of 72 survivors interviewed:
“Nearly a third (31.9%) of respondents said their access to money during the relationship was controlled by the perpetrator”
Financial Abuse Is About Control
So domestic abuse can encompass control using money as the weapon, not just fists or words. And this is frightening.
There are many women who are walking around today who don’t even realise that the way they “do money” with their partner is potentially abuse.
According to Women’s Aid, Financial abuse:
“can leave women with no money for basic essentials such as food and clothing. It can leave them without access to their own bank accounts, with no access to any independent income and with debts that have been built up by abusive partners set against their names. Even when a survivor has left the home, financial control can still be exerted by the abuser with regard to child maintenance”
They also mention that financial abuse seldom comes in isolation, but in my opinion, it can be much harder to spot. I’ll even go as far as saying that if your partner earns more than you, yet expects you to pay half of all your bills (or more in some cases), then this is also abuse.
By not paying their way, the abuser is forcing the victim into poverty and debt simply through the fact that they cannot keep up financially. I have heard numerous stories from women now where this is happening. Their partners earn far more, yet all the bills come out from the other person’s account, leaving them begging for money just to put food in the mouths of their children and themselves.
So my video is all about financial abuse. I hope it starts to get you to look at the financial interactions you are having with your partner and to really see what’s going on. Could it be abuse?
Why Is This Important?
Money is important in every aspect of our lives. Whether we have a good relationship with it or not, you can’t buy food with it. You can’t live with a roof over your head without it, and try offering your electricity company love instead of money, and you’ll soon see what happens.
Money is a fact of life. So if one person has ALL of the control, this restricts the other person’s actions and movements and stops them from being able to escape if they need to.
If one person has all the control, and the other party in the relationship is reliant on that person, they also feel like they cannot leave. If children are involved, this is even more difficult. Staying in a bad relationship due to financial issues is sadly all too common.
Having no financial independence puts a person at a disadvantage. They can get into debt to fund their basic living expenses and this traps them even further into the relationship.
So understanding that this is happening to you or someone you know is so important so that you can seek help and do something about it.
How To Spot If It’s Happening To You
There are many more ways to tell if you take a look at verywellmind.com (and the list is long!), but I picked out some of them from their really useful site to illustrate the point to you here.
The abuser might be:
- Withholding financial information such as account passwords, account numbers etc from you
- Limiting your knowledge of your overall financial picture as a couple
- Withholding money from you and/or requiring you to ask for money
- Demanding that you ask permission before spending money but not consulting you when they make purchases
- Requiring that large, joint purchases be in their name only (such as car loans, mortgages, cell phones or apartment leases)
- Forcing you to sign financial documents without explanations
- Making threats to cut you off financially when you disagree
- Becoming enraged over money and then engaging in other forms of abuse like name-calling or physical violence
- Criticising every financial decision you make and reducing your freedom to plan or budget as a result
- Making large financial decisions without your input
- Insisting you share your income but refusing to share theirs
- Controlling the “purse strings” or establishing unrealistic limits or allowances for you
- Expecting you to pay for their bills or their obligations
- Requiring you to bail them out of difficult financial situations
If you spot any of these signs in your relationship, talk it through with someone. It may just be a simple act of miscommunication which can be easily addressed, but when the list starts growing, it’s looking more likely it’s abuse.
Ways to help yourself or someone you know
- Tell someone this is happening to you – if no one knows, no one can help you.
- Talk to your partner if you can. They may not be aware that they are doing it, but if your partner makes you feel bad for asking for a more equitable split in your finances, you’re in the wrong relationship. Is staying really in your best interest and that of your children?
- Keep an account open just for YOU at all times as far as you possibly can and TURN OFF paper billing so that your partner doesn’t find out.
- Use apps like plum or monzo to save money to build up an emergency fund – monzo rounds up pennies, so may be easier to hide on bank statements.
- If you can’t open an account, save cash somewhere – with a trusted family member or friend. Use cash back at supermarket checkouts to do this.
- Have a credit card for emergencies only in your name. Keep it secret and hidden.
- If you need to leave, pack a bag of clothes and hide it or give it to a family member to look after. Make sure you have copies of all of your main documents like passport, driver’s license, national insurance number etc as you will need these later when you are rebuilding your life.
- If you can, have an emergency fund of up to 6 months of basic living expenses so that you could leave a relationship if you needed to. Hopefully you won’t ever need it, but having something saved is better than nothing.
Whatever happens, you are not alone. Reach out to someone and get support. Abused people often don’t see the problem until something bad happens, or until they see something that highlights it to them.
Don’t put yourself at risk, but the quicker you can leave, the quicker you can rebuild your life and truly live it. No one has the right to take away your freedom, but only you can claim it.