Have you ever been critical or judgmental of a loved one(s) for staying in an abusive and toxic relationship? We all have witnessed this. It’s truly so painful and heartbreaking to see someone we care for treated poorly, making excuses for the mistreatment and yet continuing to stay to with a volatile partner. It’s so hard when we don’t know how to help someone who we love that is stuck in a dangerous cycle. While abusive dynamics are very complicated, I do believe we need to start by listening to those we love vs. giving them pep talks or well-intentioned advice to leave. Before pushing someone to get out of their relationship, let’s first understand all the barriers that keeps them there.
Did you know that financial abuse occurs in 99% of all domestic violence relationships? Financial abuse can be subtle or overt but in in general, includes tactics to conceal information, limit the victim’s access to assets, or reduce accessibility to the family finances. This form of abuse involves controlling a victim's ability to acquire, use and maintain financial resources. As a result, those who are victimized financially may be prevented from working. They also may have their own money restricted or stolen by the abuser. While financial abuse is less commonly understood than other forms of abuse, it is one of the most powerful methods of keeping a victim trapped in an abusive relationship.
Financial abuse is devastating and destructive on both a long and short-term basis. Without adequate resources, those victimized might be unable to obtain safe and affordable housing or the funds to provide for themselves or their children. With realistic fears of homelessness, ruined credit scores, and sporadic employment, it makes sense that many feel their only option is to return to their abuser.
I wanted to write a blog post on financial abuse because it’s a form of abuse that is so prevalent yet rarely spoken about. Quite often the person abusing money isn’t always the breadwinner, but it is the partner who does claim control over the finances. While leaving abusive relationships might the hardest challenge to ever take on, I do see a lot of people being able to break even the most toxic of patterns. Therefore, don’t give up on those you love! Are you curious how to support someone who you suspect is being financially abused? Maybe that person is you. If so, please read my 4 tips below. If you are feeling hopeless remember this, the cycle of abuse can be broken, but it does take time and patience.
Stopping the Cycle on Financial Abuse :
1. Get A Credit Report:
Knowledge is power! I recommend everyone getting a free credit report once a year. This way you can see if any accounts were opened in your name. Additionally, if your credit report shows activity that you don’t recognize, you can report it to one of three credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, or TransUnion) and a “fraud alert” can be opened on your behalf. Using your Social Security number, you can get your free credit report through the website http://annualcreditreport.com or by calling 1-877-322-8228.
2. Save Your Money (Safely):
If you can do so safely, begin to regularly save any money you can. Find a place that is hidden that your partner cannot get to. In addition to hiding cash, also hold onto items you can later sell. If you open a new bank account, be careful as mail associated with the account might come to your home address.
3. Invest In Help!
If you suspect financial abuse not only do I strongly recommend seeing a therapist who specializes in domestic violence and financial abuse, I also recommend seeing a financial expert. You can get free financial education and advice about dealing with debt, a mortgage, or credit issues from the nonprofit National Foundation for Credit Counseling. An expert can help you make a step-by-step plan to repair your credit and know your options.
4. Safety is Always #1:
Money is always a very sensitive topic to talk about. But in healthy, long-term relationships, it's very important to open up and be honest with each other and work through challenges, specifically financial challenges. If you have a lot of anxiety about bringing up money conversations, this might be a big red flag on how safe you feel in your relationship. If you are concerned about your safety being at risk, it’s important to make sure to prioritize your well-being first. Honoring and taking care of your safety is always more important than having difficult money conversations. If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic abuse, call 911 or the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1(800) 799-SAFE (7233) or visit.
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Sending you peaceful thoughts and wishes for brighter days.