One of the earliest signs of future abusive behavior is financial control. A husband controls the purse strings, refusing to share financial information with his wife but expecting that his wife account for every choice and every penny spent.
Many women suffer in silence, telling themselves that their husband’s controlling behavior is a personality quirk.They may still have access to joint finances, reasonable mobility and buying choices. They are frustrated by their husband’s attitude and behavior, but they don’t live with a gnawing sense of fear.
Financial abuse is different. It is behavior designed to isolate a woman into a state of complete financial dependence. The most important thing to remember about financial abuse is that the abuser is not out of control. He can, at the drop of a hat, change his behavior to suit the social circumstances. He can be charming and persuasive, but his objective is to isolate his partner and make her dependence on him total.He is deliberately choosing to control his partner’s behavior by cutting off her access to money, mobility and choice.
Financial abuse can often lead to physical abuse as well. It happens within all age ranges, educational levels, ethnic backgrounds, and financial levels. The rich socialite who lives in the largest house in the best neighborhood is as likely to be a victim of financial abuse as the poorest wife in the toughest section of town.
Where do you draw the line? You may know someone whom you suspect is being financially abused and feel helpless. I know a wealthy socialite who was rushed to the hospital with multiple bone fractures after a savage attack by her husband during an argument about money. He is the CEO of one of the country’s largest financial institutions. After a brief mention in the local newspaper, the story disappeared from all police reports and press archives.
This incident is not unique; it happens more often than we realize. On the other hand, you may not know that your neighbor, acquaintance or friend is a financial hostage because she won’t tell you. You may know her husband, and never suspect a thing. He’s not out of control or under the influence of drugs or alcohol. We might label his behavior difficult, eccentric or unpleasant, but we don’t intervene.
The thing to remember about financial abuse is that it functions on a continuum of emotional, verbal and ultimately physical abuse. The abuser’s objective is control.
Signs of Financial Abuse
Controlling the finances.
Withholding money or credit cards.
Giving you an allowance.
Making you account for every penny you spend.
Stealing from you or taking your money.
Exploiting your assets for personal gain.
Withholding basic necessities (food, clothes, medications, shelter)
Preventing you from working or choosing your own career.
Sabotaging your job (making you miss work or calling constantly, etc.)
If something about your relationship with your husband or partner scares you and you need to talk, you can get help by contacting the following:
National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)