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Financial Abuse Is Domestic Abuse

Domestic Violence Awareness Month was designed to raise awareness for people who have been victims of domestic violence. Financial abuse is the most pervasive form of domestic abuse, affecting nearly 99% of total domestic violence cases. Throughout the month of October, the DFPI will be sharing educational resources about financial abuse on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram

Why is it important to address financial abuse? Manipulating money and other economic resources is one of the most prominent forms of coercive control. Lack of access to economic resources is often why many abuse victims feel that they have no choice but to stay with an abuser. Economic barriers to leaving can result in staying with an abusive partner for longer and experiencing greater danger. Economic abuse doesn’t rely on physical proximity, so it can continue after separation. Those who finally leave an abusive partner are often left in debt or lack the financial security to rebuild their lives after leaving. 

How to identify financial abuse – Financial abuse is a subtler form of abuse. It can be more difficult to identify and observe than emotional abuse or overt violence. Some examples of this include: 

  • Taking your money or stealing from you. 
  • Sabotaging your job – calling constantly or making you miss work. 
  • Preventing you from choosing your own career or working. 
  • Withholding necessities, such as shelter, medications, clothes, and food. 
  • Withholding credit cards or using yours without permission. 
  • Rigidly controlling your finances. 

How to protect yourself from financial abuse – Financial abusers are so wrapped up in their desires they most likely won’t notice that you’ve taken steps to protect yourself. However, once they do, you can expect them to come on stronger or show you a darker side of themselves. Protect your finances by putting this plan in place. 

  • Control your phone. Do not allow anyone to read your texts/email, look at your search history, or access your apps. 
  • Open your own mail. Under the guise of being helpful, a financial abuser will read your mail to access your personal and financial information. 
  • Never, under any circumstances, share your PIN. 
  • Keep your checks, bank cards, and other methods of payment in a safe spot that only you know. If anything comes up missing, notify your bank and the police. 
  • Frequently review your bank statements, alone. If you see anything irregular, contact your bank. 
  • Never sign a blank check, cosign a loan, or open a joint bank account with your financial abuser. 

How to help someone experiencing financial abuse – If you think that someone you know is being abused, it is important to speak up. Talk to the person in private and let them know that you are concerned. Tell them that you can help them in any way possible. Often, people in abusive relationships need someone to help them out of the situation, and so one conversation can make all the difference. For additional resources, visit the National Domestic Abuse Hotline Website or call toll-free 800-799-SAFE (7233).