Financial Abuse – Revealing the Signs. Can You See Them?

Financial abuse—revealing the signs. Can you see them? Unfortunately, many do not, yet this type of abuse occurs in up to 98% of abusive relationships. Financial abuse is a critical reason it is so difficult for victims to leave their abuser.

Before 2012, I had no idea financial abuse existed. Classes within the shelter I escaped to informed me of this matter. One of the many benefits a shelter provides is its ability to educate its residents so they can grow out of victimhood.

Money—a Control Tactic

Financial abuse occurs anytime one spouse uses monetary resources as a power tactic to control their victim. This happened to me when my ex, from the start, placed me on an extremely strict “allowance.” He would not raise this rigid amount even after the birth of my first child. Each month, he handed me $200. I had to make that small amount cover the expenses of food, diapers, and all other household essentials. To purchase anything out of the norm, I had to ask and receive “permission.”

My ex flaunted that he came from money. Supposedly he brought in a substantial amount. Yet I never saw pay stubs or had access to bank accounts. Added to that, he restricted me from viewing incoming bills. Furthermore, he delayed bill payments. This neglect kept us on the edge of foreclosure and utility shut-offs. In short, he used these methods to invoke fear and coerce me to bend to his bidding. As the years passed, he used those power tactics more and more to control my behavior.

Each time that I tried to get a job, my ex blocked every effort. One of his favorite methods was refusing me money for a babysitter. To combat that problem, I scheduled work during evening hours. That way he could be home for our infant. Even this method did not work because he refused to “babysit.” He sabotaged every attempt l made, making me solely dependent on him. As a result, this imbalance of power grew as the years ticked by.

Reckless Spending

Another form of financial abuse is recklessly spending money. Even though my ex never gave me enough to cover necessities, he took pride in taking lavish trips. He also threw cash into multiple money-making schemes. Yet, none ever paid back.

As is typical, this abuse intensified over time. At its worst, my ex refused to bring in a steady income. In addition, he turned down each opportunity that presented itself. As a result, incoming money whittled down to almost nothing. By then, my disability had evolved, making me dependent on a wheelchair. As a result, my weak body made it impossible for me to bring in an income.

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Fighting My Way Out

Times became more and more dire. Hence, to feed my children, I fought against his wishes. I sought assistance from food pantries and other sources. In addition, my church provided some aid. People sent anonymous grocery store gift cards. Even bags of dog food from our local feed store appeared on our doorstep—I had turned to feeding our dogs potatoes. They came in abundant amounts from the food pantries. By the way, I do not recommend this source of nourishment for dogs. A diet of potatoes is not agreeable to their digestive system.

As I grew bolder at seeking help, the home environment became more threatening. Things accelerated. Consequently, I escaped to a shelter. And there I resided under its protective roof for six months.

Forms of Financial Abuse

I shared with you a simplified version of how financial abuse affected me. Hopefully, my opened windows to my past will give you a better understanding of this devastating abuse. Yet, your story may be quite different, for financial abuse raises its ugly head in many ways.

An imbalance of resources between the husband and wife can be a sure sign of financial abuse. Unexplained bank account withdrawals can be another sign. He also may withhold emails or phone calls regarding financial communications. In addition, the perpetrator often steals from the victim. He also may take advantage of their money. One way he can do this without the victim’s knowledge or consent is by taking out credit cards in their name. Then the perpetrator destroys the victim’s credit by charging large amounts to that stolen account.

Deceitful schemes such as these, make leaving even more difficult. The ongoing stress erodes the victim, which makes them easier to manipulate. Sadly, the elderly are extra vulnerable to such abuse. One reason is due to their lack of modern technological knowledge. Perpetrators can include family members, caretakers, solicitors, and scammers. Advanced health issues and conditions such as dementia increase their vulnerability.

The Language of Abuse

Abusers effectively mask their actions. They will deceive their victim with statements like, “I’m doing this for your own good.” “This is how I care for you.” “You’re not capable of handling such matters.”

How someone refers to money can provide cues that they are a victim of financial abuse. For example, my ex would say, “I allowed her to . . ..”  The abuser will shift from actions of deprivation to lavish. This behavior swing keeps the victim in the dark of what is actually happening. My ex did this with outlandish trips. An abuser puts on a generous disguise, but their true intent is to hold their victim in bondage. When a spouse behaves authoritatively, abuse probably exists.

How to Escape

The invisible prison bars of financial abuse hold a victim captive. Yet, how can someone flee if they lack adequate resources? An important step is to write down and gather all the evidence you can. Next, remove yourself from your perpetrator and find someplace safe before reporting the abuse. DomesticShelters.org can help locate a shelter near you. This form of abuse is often extra hard to escape from. Rebuilding your finances is a challenging yet crucial critical part of recovery. Domestic abuse hotlines are always available for help and resources.

The National Domestic Violence Hotline is 800-799-7233. They can assist anyone to take that first step. They are available 24/7 to provide immediate support and advice. Other ways to contact them are through their website at https://www.thehotline.org or by texting “START” to 88788. I highly recommend you reach out for help. No person can break free alone.

Here are other websites where you can seek help. https://www.annuity.org/financial-literacy/financial-abuse/, https://www.pcadv.org/financial-abuse/

You can find a guide on financial literacy for women at https://www.annuity.org/financial-literacy/women/

Upcoming Posts

I hope you join me each week as we continue this sensitive topic. Next week, I will delve into religious abuse. Week seven will cover legal abuse and domestic violence in week eight. In week nine, I wrap up this series by providing resources and steps to escape an abusive situation.

I pray this series adequately informs all who read it and need such vital help. I welcome questions and comments on any of my blogs. To do so, go to CONTACT THE AUTHOR – Crystal MM Huntley. Furthermore, I pray that all who indulge in my written creations find entertainment, enjoyment, and education. I also hope to inspire you to move forth in your healing journey.

Note To My Readers

Hopefully, you have gained value from this blog post. If you have, I would like to offer you the opportunity to purchase my book, The Hidden DiamondBUY THE BOOK – Crystal MM Huntley, and support my mission to break the chains of abuse.

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