Often, when we think about abuse in relationships, we think of either physical or emotional abuse. But rarely do we talk about financial abuse. Financial abuse in relationships is the control of one’s ability to acquire, use and maintain money by an intimate partner. And even though it’s rarely talked about, statistics indicate that 7 in 10 millennial women are in financially abusive relationships. Because it is so common for romantic partners to argue about money, financial abuse is rarely recognised and goes unnoticed for a long time.
Financial abuse can vary from situation to situation since there isn’t one way to handle money in a relationship. This makes identifying abusive tactics all the more difficult, as abusive partners may argue that “this is just how the relationship works.” Still, there are concrete tactics abusive may use to keep their partner trapped:
They control all the money in the relationship
If you are in a relationship or marriage where only one person controls all the money and the other one gets an allowance, then this might be a sign of financial abuse. In extreme cases, when both of you earn income, the financially abusive partner may require you to deposit all your money in a shared account where they can control how you spend the money. This may be their way of ensuring you’re totally dependent on them, so you can’t leave the relationship.
They influence your career decisions
It’s normal for couples to talk about careers especially when they are planning to get married or are already married. However, if your partner tries to interfere with your career choices by either forcing you to make certain decisions, then this is a sign of financial abuse.
For example, a financially abusive partner can influence your career in a way that would keep you dependent on them. They can either discourage you from going back to school or accepting a promotion at work. Some even use your kids to get you to quit your job so that you can stay home.
They get too upset when you spend money
As if it’s not enough that financial abusers control all the money in the relationship, most of them tend to get upset over how you spend your money.
If you find yourself fearful over their reaction for a purchase you made, this is a sign of financial abuse in relationships. You may feel tempted to hide purchases, throw away receipts etc. for fear that you will be punished for making a purchase without your partner’s approval.
They take advantage of your generosity
In financially abusive relationships, it’s not uncommon for one or both partners to take advantage of each other’s generosity. So take it as a sign if your partner seems to be using you for money. A romantic partner can take advantage of your generosity by for example borrowing money and never repaying it or when they expect you to pay their bills.
Financial abuse is usually accompanied by either physical or emotional or even both. And if you’re only experiencing financial abuse, sooner or later, you will start to experience either of the other forms of abuse. If you realize that you might be going through this form of abuse, talk to someone and start planning your exit!