Financial abuse: often the first sign of domestic violence (2023)

When most people thinkdomestic violenceThe first thing that comes to mind is probablyverbal abuseand physical aggression. However, research shows that financial abuse is just as common in unhealthy relationships as it is in other forms of abuse.

In fact, a study by the Centers for Financial Security found that 99% of domestic violence cases involved financial abuse.Additionally, financial abuse is often the first sign of dating violence and domestic violence. Therefore, knowing how to spot financial abuse is vital to your safety.

What is financial abuse?

Financial abuse involves controlling the victim's ability to acquire, use, and maintain financial resources. Those who are financially harmed can be prevented from working.

Although less well known than other forms of abuse, financial abuse is one of the most effective ways to keep a victim trapped in an abusive relationship. Research shows that victims are often very concerned about their ability to support themselves and their children financiallyend the relationship. Financial insecurity is also one of the top reasons why women return to an abusive partner.

Men can also be victims of abuse. Recognizing that financial abuse is recognized as a form of domestic violence,About 1 in 7 men (over the age of 18) experience some form of domestic violence.

The purpose of financial abuse is to gain power and control in a relationship.

Signs of financial abuse

In general, financial abuse is very isolating as victims often become financially dependent on their abusers. This financial dependency locks them into the relationship. Without resources, they see no way out of their situation.

When you are in a relationship, it is extremely important that you are able to identify financial abuse before it escalates and you lose your credit history and employment opportunities.

Below is an overview of how financial abuse is committed. Some abusers may use all of these tactics, while others may only use one or two. Regardless of whether the abusive person uses a tactic or a 10, it still counts as financial abuse. Here are some ways people are financially abused.

Exploring your resources

When a dating partner or spouse uses or controls the money you have earned or saved, they are exploiting your resources.

Here are some examples of this exploitation:

  • Control or spend your money: This may include trying to control your use of or access to money you have made or saved. They may also use your wealth for personal gain without permission, including withdrawing cash or using credit cards without permission.
  • Ruin your credit history: They can do this by going to the limit and not paying the bills, or claiming to make payments or paying bills on your behalf but not complying.
  • Feeling entitled to your money or possessions: You may have to hand over your paycheck, passwords, and credit cards. They may also expect you to pay their bills or commitments, or demand that you get them out of troubled financial situations.
  • intervene in your finances: This may mean using offers to help you with your budget or financial decisions to take control of your finances. They can confiscate your paycheck or other source of income, intercept or open your bank statements and other financial records, or threaten employees to lie to them, claiming that you are "cheating or abusing benefits."

Financial abuse can take many forms. People can have their own money restricted or stolen by the abuser. They rarely have full access to money and other resources. When they have money, they are usually responsible for every penny they spend.

(Video) Financial Abuse is Domestic Abuse

disrupt your work

When a partner or spouse tries to control your ability to make money or acquire possessions, they interfere with your earning potential. These are some examples of work disabilities.

  • Criticizing and disparaging your career or career choices.
  • They urge him to quit his job, sometimes even using the children as an excuse.
  • Say where you can and cannot work
  • Sabotage your professional duties
  • Harassing you at work by calling, texting or visiting you
  • They prevent you from working by hiding your keys, taking your car battery, taking your car without permission, or babysitting and then not showing up

Control over assets and shared resources

When a partner or spouse has complete control of the money in the relationship and you have little or no access to what you need, that is control of family resources. Here are some examples of shared asset and resource governance.

  • Criticize every financial decision you makeand require you to be accountable for every penny spent (you can even ask for receipts and change)
  • Apply a double standard when it comes to your spending(You can spend money on entertainment, dinner, and clothing, but criticize if you make similar purchases.)
  • Make important financial decisions without your intervention, refusing to collaborate on finances and limiting their access to the larger financial picture as a couple
  • Limit your access to moneyNot allow you to have bank accounts or credit cards, or withhold financial information such as account passwords, account numbers, and investment information
  • Hide or accept backgroundsand put them in a private account, insisting on sharing your income but refusing to share theirs, or refusing to work or contribute to family income
  • Management of “Portfolio Funds”They force you to ask for money or set unrealistic limits or concessions
  • You must ask permission before spending moneybut don't mention it when you're shopping, and require that large joint purchases (eg, car loans, mortgages, cell phones, or apartment rentals) be made in your name only.
  • get angry about moneyand then engage in other forms of abuse, such as B. Attribution orphysical violence
  • Running away or refusing to pay child supportand prolong divorce proceedings to harm you financially


The forms of financial abuse vary from situation to situation. Sometimes a perpetrator may use subtle tactics such ashandling, while other bullies can be more open, demanding, and intimidating.

Effects of Financial Abuse

The effects of financial abuse are often devastating. It makes victims feel inadequate and insecureemotional abuseaccompanying financial abuse. They also have to go without groceries and other necessities because they have no money.

In the short term, financial abuse exposes victims to physical abuse and violence.Without access to cash, credit cards, and other financial assets, any type of security planning is extremely difficult.

For example, if a perpetrator is particularly violent and the victim has to leave to be safe, this is difficult without cash or a credit card. And when they have to leave the relationship permanently, finding safe and affordable housing is a challenge. They also struggle to cover basic necessities such as food, clothing and transportation.

Those who do manage to escape an abusive situation often face extreme difficulties in obtaining housing, security and long-term protection.

Victims often have incomplete employment records, ruined credit histories, and escalating legal problems caused by years of financial abuse. Consequently, it is very difficult for them to establish long-term independence and security. In fact, many victims stay with or rejoin their abusers because of financial stability issues.

how to get help

If you are subject to financial abuse, there are steps you can take to protect yourself. Leaving the relationship is often the best solution. Other strategies to protect yourself and get help:

  • Protect your personal information: Contact your bank and credit card company and ask them to change your account information, including your PIN and access code. After changing them, do not share them with others.
  • Access your credit report: Learn more about your financial situation by requesting a free credit report from This allows you to see if the offender has opened other accounts or lines of credit in your name.
  • Prepare for the future: If you can't leave your abuser right away, there are steps you can take to prepare for the future. Open a new account and hide the money where your abuser can't find it.
  • find support: Conversations with loved ones can offer support, care and encouragement. Family members can also offer resources such as housing and financial support if you decide to end the relationship.

A word from Verywell

If you suspect that your partner orspousefinancially abusive, consult an attorney, counselor, or religious leader immediately. Financial abuse does not get better over time. In fact, it often escalates and can lead to other types of abuse.

If you do not have a counselor or religious leader who can help you, contact themNational Domestic Violence HotlineNO1-800-799-7233Receive confidential support from trained lawyers. The key is to deal with financial abuse immediately.

For more mental health resources, visit ourNational Database of Support Lines.

(Video) 👀 Financial Abuse: Do You Know The Signs?👈

5 sources

Verywell Mind uses only quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to back up the facts in our articles. read ourspublishing processfor more information about how we review our content and keep it accurate, reliable and trustworthy.

  1. Adams AE.Measuring the impact of domestic violence on women's financial well-being.Financial Security Center. University of Wisconsin-Madison. 2011

  2. Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic abuse.

  3. National Domestic Violence Hotline.Men can also be victims of abuse..

  4. Howard M., Skip A.Unequal, Confined, and Controlled: Women's Experiences of Financial Abuse and Its Possible Impact on Universal Credit. help the woman 2014

    (Video) Signs You Are Being Financially Abused.

  5. Secretary for Women's abuse.

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(Video) Financial Abuse Explained


What is the first stage in the cycle of domestic violence? ›

The “cycle of violence” consists of three phases. In the first phase, tension builds in the relationship. Victims report their partners becoming increasingly irritable, frustrated, and unable to cope with every-day stresses. The abuser may lash out at the victim at this time, but generally stops and becomes apologetic.

Does financial abuse occurs in 99% of domestic violence cases? ›

Financial abuse occurs in 98% of abusive relationships and is the number one reason victims stay in or return to abusive relationships.

Which signs are linked to financial abuse? ›

What are the signs to look out for?
  • a change in living conditions.
  • selling possessions.
  • being unable to pay bills, or an unexplained lack of money.
  • money being taken out of an account without a reason.
  • financial documents being lost without a reason.
  • someone being cut off from family, friends or their social network.
Jul 25, 2022

What is the quote about financial abuse? ›

Economic abuse is your past, present and future.” Other, similar quotes, included: “He has ongoing, indefinite power to destroy our lives.” “Physical abuse happens, and then it stops, but economic abuse is always there and blights every aspect of your life.

What is the first violence? ›

Currently, the most ancient traces of violence that have been found are those resulting from the practice of cannibalism. Marks of disarticulation, emaciation (the stripping of flesh), fracturing and calcination have been observed on Palaeolithic human bones.

What are the 5 cycles of emotional abuse? ›

The 5 cycles of emotional abuse, as listed in Sarakay Smullens' “Five Cycles of Emotional Abuse: Codification and Treatment of an Invisible Malignancy” are enmeshment, extreme overprotection and overindulgence, complete neglect, rage, and rejection/abandonment.

Who has the highest rate of domestic abuse? ›

Oklahoma has the highest rate of domestic violence in the United States. Nearly 49.1% of women and 40.7% of men experience domestic violence in their lifetimes. Violence cases typically include intimate partner rape, physical abuse, and intimate partner stalking.

Is financial a type of abuse? ›

Financial abuse is a form of domestic abuse and is a way of having power over you. It involves someone else controlling your spending or access to cash, assets and finances. This can leave you feeling isolated, lacking in confidence and trapped.

What is one form of financial abuse? ›

Abusers commonly use violence or threats of violence and intimidation to keep the victim from working or having access to the family funds. Whether subtle or overt, there are common methods that abusers use to gain financial control over their partner. These include: Forbidding the victim to work.

How often does financial abuse occur? ›

But research shows that financial abuse occurs just as frequently in unhealthy relationships as other forms of abuse. In fact, a study by the Centers for Financial Security found that 99% of domestic violence cases also involved financial abuse.

What are 4 signs of financial exploitation? ›

Warning signs of financial exploitation
  • Sudden changes in bank accounts or banking practices, including an unexplained withdrawal of large sums of money by a person accompanying the older adult.
  • The inclusion of additional names on an older adult's bank signature card.

What are 3 examples of financial abuse? ›

Types of financial abuse
  • Borrowing money and not giving it back.
  • Stealing money or belongings.
  • Taking pension payments or other benefit away from someone.
  • Taking money as payment for coming to visit or spending time together.
  • Forcing someone to sell their home or assets without consent.
  • Tricking someone into bad investments.
Oct 26, 2018

What is narcissistic financial abuse? ›

Narcissists often use money as a tool for punishment. They may reward you financially when you do what they want, and then withhold money when they feel vindictive. This can feel unsafe, degrading and confusing.

What are 5 example of financial abuse? ›

Destroying, damaging or stealing property. Racking up debt on shared accounts or joint credit cards. Withholding financial support like child support payments. Refusing to work or contribute anything to the household income.

How is financial abuse proven? ›

Eyewitness testimony and affidavits and copies of emails, texts, and correspondence that refer to a victim's ability to manage funds or prove domination of money by the abuser will be included in an attorney's evidence. A mental health expert may also be asked to explain the impact of financial abuse on a victim.

What are the 5 roots of violence? ›

Other factors which can be causes of violence include:
  • The influence of one's peers.
  • Having a lack of attention or respect.
  • Having low self-worth.
  • Experiencing abuse or neglect.
  • Witnessing violence in the home, community, or medias.
  • Access to weapons.
Mar 4, 2023

What is one of the most common forms of violence? ›

Domestic violence

It encompasses all physical, sexual, emotional, economic and psychological actions or threats of actions that influence another person. This is one of the most common forms of violence experienced by women globally.

What are the 4 levels of violence? ›

By looking more closely at the nature of acts of violence, these three categories can be further divided into four, more specific, types of violence:
  • Physical violence.
  • Sexual violence.
  • Psychological violence.
  • Neglect.

What is the narcissistic abuse cycle? ›

The narcissistic abuse cycle refers to an abusive pattern of behavior that characterizes the relationships of people with narcissistic traits. It involves first idealizing a person, then devaluing them, repeating the cycle, and eventually discarding them when they are of no further use.

Do emotional abusers know they are doing it? ›

Emotional abuse may be unintentional, where the person doesn't realize they are hurting someone else, according to Engel. And, “some people are reenacting patterns of being in a relationship that they learn from their parents or their caregivers,” adds Heidi Kar, Ph.

What is the triangle of emotional abuse? ›

The Drama Triangle is a theoretical device we use to explain what might be going on in a toxic relationship and how to break free from it. If you imagine an equilateral triangle with its three points. At each point sits one of these three labels; Persecutor, Rescuer, Victim.

Which type of abuse is the hardest to detect? ›

Emotional or psychological abuse

Emotional abuse often coexists with other forms of abuse, and it is the most difficult to identify. Many of its potential consequences, such as learning and speech problems and delays in physical development, can also occur in children who are not being emotionally abused.

Which gender commits the most domestic violence? ›

One study of 96 cases of domestic abuse recorded by the police found that men are significantly more likely to be repeat perpetrators and significantly more likely than women to use physical violence, threats, and harassment.

Where does abuse happen the most? ›

Abuse mainly occurs within the close social environment

In all of these cases, it is especially difficult for children and adolescents to get help if the perpetrator is held in high esteem by the parents or is a person who is respected by the family.

Who is financial abuse usually perpetuated by? ›

What sets financial abuse cases apart from fraud and financial scams is that these crimes are perpetrated by individuals who use their personal relationships to gain control of the victim's property or assets through power of attorney, joint tenancy on bank accounts, and other means.

Who is more likely to experience financial abuse? ›

Gender also is a key risk factor of financial abuse. The Met Life study in America showed that women are twice as likely as men to be victims of elder financial abuse, with the majority being between the ages of 80 and 89 and living alone. Those who are single or widowed are also at risk.

How does financial abuse affect emotions? ›

Financial abuse can also cause emotional issues. Victims may have trouble trusting loved ones and isolate themselves. They might also spend excessive time worrying about money and potential theft. Some people feel extreme anxiety or guilt when using money, especially when buying anything for themselves.

Is overspending financial abuse? ›

Financial abuse happens when one partner in an intimate relationship controls the other partner's access to money. Experts say the most common behaviors of financial abuse survivors are hoarding and overspending.

When one spouse controls the money? ›

Financial manipulation occurs when one spouse has complete control over the finances and uses the finances to control their significant other. Often, the manipulating/controlling spouse doesn't let the other spouse know anything.

What are the elements of financial abuse? ›

Financial abuse occurs when any person or entity (1) takes, secretes, appropriates, obtains, or retains property, (2) for a wrongful use, with the intent to defraud, or by undue influence, or (3) assists in doing the prohibited acts.

Can financial abuse cause PTSD? ›

Many people don't realize that suffering narcissistic abuse for weeks, months, or years can lead to complex post-traumatic stress disorder (CPTSD) which often includes financial PTSD.

What is financial control in a relationship? ›

Financial control is part of coercive control. It can be used to disempower a partner by: preventing them from having access to funds; and. preventing them from leaving the relationship and being able to rehouse themselves and any children.

What are the long term effects of financial abuse? ›

The long-term financial consequences of financial abuse can include damaged credit, insurmountable debt, legal problems, and difficulty obtaining employment, loans, and even stable housing.

What are three warning signs of emotional abuse? ›

What Are the Early Warning Signs of Emotional Abuse to Look for?
  • Feel insecure and have low self-esteem.
  • Appear depressed or anxious.
  • Be withdrawn even in the presence of others.
  • No longer go out and socialize as they used to.
  • Miss work or other events and responsibilities.
Nov 15, 2018

What are four warning signs that might identify a financially distressed firm? ›

4 warning signs your business is in financial trouble
  • Reduced cash flow and profitability.
  • Changes in customer behaviour.
  • You're not able to pay debts and bills.
  • Losing your staff.
Aug 30, 2022

What are three symptoms of financial irresponsibility? ›

Here are a few pointers to tell if someone is financially irresponsible:
  • They Have Not Invested Their Money. ...
  • They Live Above Their Means. ...
  • They Have Unnecessary Debt. ...
  • They Have No Insurance. ...
  • They Have Little to No Emergency Savings. ...
  • They Use Their Emergency Fund for Non-Emergencies. ...
  • They Have No Budget.
Jul 22, 2022

What is financial infidelity in a marriage? ›

Financial infidelity occurs when couples lie to each other about money matters. It can include things like hiding debt, hiding big purchases, and lying about income. Financial infidelity can drastically affect trust between partners and the financial stability of the relationship.

What does emotional abuse do to a woman? ›

What are the effects of emotional or verbal abuse? Staying in an emotionally or verbally abusive relationship can have long-lasting effects on your physical and mental health, including leading to chronic pain, depression, or anxiety.

What are the 5 main habits of a narcissist? ›

Common Narcissist Characteristics
  • Inflated Ego.
  • Lack of Empathy.
  • Need for Attention.
  • Repressed Insecurities.
  • Few Boundaries.

What are red flags of narcissistic abuse? ›

Red Flags When You're In a Relationship With a Narcissist

Downplays your emotions. Uses manipulative tactics to “win” arguments. Love bombing, especially after a fight. Makes you second-guess yourself constantly.

How do narcissist treat their wives? ›

Narcissists are misogynists. They hold women in contempt, they loathe and fear them. They seek to torment and frustrate them (either by debasing them sexually – or by withholding sex from them). They harbor ambiguous feelings towards the sexual act.

What is an example of bad financial habits? ›

Waiting to save until after you've already spent your paycheck. Even following a budget, it's easy to neglect savings and end up spending more than you had planned. One common bad savings habit is depositing money into your savings account at the end of the month after you've spent on wants and needs.

Can your spouse cuts you off financially? ›

If your spouse has financially cut you off, you have legal rights. You are entitled to something called the “financial status quo”, and it is illegal—and financial abuse—for your spouse to keep marital funds from you.

What are the four stages of the cycle of violence? ›

The cycle of abuse is made up of four stages. These stages include the building of tension, the abuse incident, the reconciliation, and a period of calm.

Which defines the beginning of the cycle of abuse? ›

The stages of the cycle of abuse are: stage 1: tension building. stage 2: incident of violence. stage 3: reconciliation.

Which of the following is the first phase of the cycle of domestic violence quizlet? ›

1. Tension building phase—Tension builds over common domestic issues like money, children or jobs. Verbal abuse begins. The victim tries to control the situation by pleasing the abuser, giving in or avoiding the abuse.

What is the first step in violence prevention? ›

Step 1: Define and Monitor the Problem

The first step in preventing violence is to understand the “who,” “what,” “when,” “where,” and “how” associated with it. Grasping the magnitude of the problem involves analyzing data such as the number of violence-related behaviors, injuries, and deaths.

What happens during the first stage of the cycle of violence? ›

Phase 1: Tension-Building. The abuser is argumentative, angry, uses yelling, criticism, swearing, and angry gestures. Sometimes the abuser will use coercion, threats or minor fights may occur.

What are the predictable pattern of abuse stages? ›

Six distinct stages make up the cycle of violence: the set-up, the abuse, the abuser's feelings of “guilt” and his fear of reprisal, his rationalization, his shift to non-abusive and charming behavior, and his fantasies and plans for the next time he will abuse.

What is the wheel of the abuse cycle? ›

The wheel serves as a diagram of tactics that an abusive partner uses to keep their victims in a relationship. The inside of the wheel is made up of subtle, continual behaviors over time, while the outer ring represents physical and sexual violence.

What is the three stage cycle of abuse over time usually? ›

There are three stages to the cycle of violence:

This is where the battered person may feel like they are walking on eggshells. Second is the actual explosion phase where the physical abuse occurs. It can last from a few minutes to several hours. Third is the honeymoon phase.

How do you break the emotional abuse cycle? ›

Here are six steps on breaking the cycle of abuse while creating a new and healthy pattern for generations to come.
  1. Create Self-Awareness. ...
  2. Build Your Individuality. ...
  3. Create Emotional Distance. ...
  4. De-triangulate from the Toxic Relationship. ...
  5. Psychoeducation & Resources. ...
  6. Show Self-Compassion and Start the Healing Process.
Nov 15, 2022

What is the honeymoon stage in the cycle of violence? ›

The honeymoon period occurs right after an instance of physical, sexual or emotional abuse. During this time, an abuser will apologize for their behavior while showing sorrow and promising that the abuse will never happen again.

During which phase of the cycle of abuse might the abuser blame the abuse on stress alcohol or drugs or accuse the target of causing the abuse? ›

What is the honeymoon stage? The abuser tries to make the target stay in the relationship by apologizing or shift the blame for the abuse onto someone or something else.

Which phase of the cycle of violence is called the honeymoon period because the abuser may apologize and promise to change? ›

Phase 3 – “Honeymoon” Period A period of remorse may follow after an abusive incident. The abuser may apologize, often excessively, buying gifts, flowers, etc. as they seek forgiveness. They often promise to change, but they are just keeping you from leaving.

Who are the victims at greater risk for abuse? ›

More than 90% of these victims are female, and 5-10% are male. 15% are black, Asian or minority ethnic (BAME). 4% are disabled. 1% are lesbian, gay, bisexual or trans (LGBT).

What are the names of the three phases of the cycle of violence? ›

Domestic Violence: Understanding the Cycle of Violence
  • Tension Building Phase. The batterer begins to assert his or her power over the victim in an attempt to control the victim's actions. ...
  • Acute Battering Incident. During this phase, the batterer exhibits uncontrolled violence outbursts. ...
  • Remorseful Phase.

What is primary prevention of violence? ›

Primary prevention focuses on stopping the violence before it happens at all—some might say, going “upstream” to intervene with people at highest risk for causing or experiencing harm.

What are the three levels of violence prevention? ›

Types of Prevention: Primary, Secondary, Tertiary

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2004) recognizes that there are several ways to classify sexual violence prevention and intervention activities.


1. Financial Abuse, Narcissists & Money: A Divorce Lawyer's Perspective
(Miles Mason Family Law Group)
2. Domestic Violence and Financial Abuse
(Chantay Moore)
3. 10 Kinds Of Financial Abuse. (How To Spot Financial Abuse)
(Narcissistic Abuse Healing)
4. Financial abuse is emotional abuse
(Vivian McGrath)
5. Bill introduced in North Carolina to combat financial abuse
6. Exposing Financial Abuse one of the narcissists favorite tactics
(The Enlightened Target)


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