Financial abuse happens in about 99% of domestic violence cases. That is because finances are often the most significant factor of marital conflict. It is the reason why victims return to their abusers and stay in a toxic relationship. But what exactly is financial abuse? How can you determine its presence in the marital relationship? What can you do to stop it from turning into a worse situation? Here is how psychology shed some light on domestic violence, particularly on this financial abuse.
What Is Financial Abuse
Financial abuse is an unnoticeable tactic used by the abusers to gain control in a domestic violence situation. Usually, it often starts in a subtle way that no one can notice it even for an extended period. Its victims can be either females or males. But typically, a considerable percentage of it is women. Julie Williamson, LPC, NCC, RPT explains “Financial abuse is the withholding of funds or refusing access to funds to a responsible partner,”
The process of controlling finances is one of the simple yet powerful methods used to keep victims trapped in an abusive marital relationship. Some common forms of abuse are forbidding the partners to work and earn money. The suggestions can execute in both vocal and unintentional ways. There is also controlling how much money gets spent. According to Angel M. Hoodye, MS, LPCS, CART, “A person experiencing financial abuse is under complete financial dependence on the provider of funds. If [they do] need money they may receive an allowance. They also may have to follow a strict protocol for spending.” That is when one of the couples can use the funds to whatever pleases them. However, other individuals appear to get questioned every time they use a portion of the funds. Also, financial abuse has something to do with controlling everything on the paycheck. These include buying expensive stuff without the consent of the husband or wife. Another part of it is withholding all the combined income. It leaves one of the couples abundant, and the other one broke. Also, the removal of access to any bank account is a financial abuse as well, along with the condition of being given an allowance.
The Sad Truth
In most cases, when the victims try and contemplate leaving, they immediately decide not to. They begin to think about how they are going to make it without financial support from their abusers. There is this mentality that leaving the relationship will only result in additional emotional and mental suffering. The truth is, it is an invisible weapon to weaken the victim. The effects are so damaging that victims do not consider leaving the situation even if they wanted to. With that, they ease their guilt, keep their peace, and do everything to make these abusers stay. And hopefully, make these people love them even more.
Usually, the process of abuse often disguises itself as a concern and love for the victims. The abusers can make it look like they want to take care of these people. But in reality, the only thing these abusers desire is complete control over their abused partners. Most financial abusers are narcissistic. They believe that their partners should feel privileged for having them in their lives. These individuals are experts in identifying their significant others’ weakness. They often come up with justifications and reasons why their spouses should owe them and give them what they want.
Not all abuse leaves people with visible scars. But that doesn’t mean that the action is not that painful and impactful. Financial abusers want what they can take. It is a simple principle that reflects their mentality of being self-entitled to do anything without thinking about others’ feelings. They believe that the things that belong to their partners are also theirs. But the things these people have or earned has nothing to do with their spouse or significant others.
Say “No More”
Recovering from financial abuse requires healthy boundaries and awareness. The victims should try to discover the purpose of their lives that truly give them a reason to move forward. When the victims try and recognize their skills and capabilities, they will begin to change their mentality towards financial dependence. Once these individuals start educating themselves with ways on how to make and earn money, they will leave the abusers with no reason to hold them anymore. Aside from them gaining additional knowledge, these people also obtain financial independence as well. Victims must understand the difference between generosity and entitlement. Financial abusers are commonly takers. They sometimes use guilt, threat, and sympathy to achieve their abusive goal. Though the process of knowing it is difficult, individuals should watch out for unusual requests or offers.
Jason B. Whiting, PhD, LMFT states that “Many referred to financial limitations, and these were often connected to caring for children: “I had no family, two young children, no money, and guilt because he had brain damage from a car accident.” Others were unable to keep jobs because of the abuser’s control or their injuries, and others were used financially by their abuser: “[My] ex racked up thousands of debt in my name.” The effects of financial abuse do not just stop when the victims get out of the situation. The mental and emotional torture can last for months, years, and even decades. That is why financial education and self-awareness is vital.