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When people think of abuse, what comes to mind is usually physical abuse, followed by sexual, emotional or psychological abuse. Financial, or economic, abuse is another way batterers control their partners to keep them in a relationship. It’s a very powerful form of abuse that, like other types of abuse, often begins subtly and progressives over time.
“Financial abuse is often neglected in the assessment of domestic violence,” says Sherry Hamby, Ph.D., author of Battered Women’s Protective Strategies: Stronger Than You Know. “But it is a really huge issue. There are a lot of ways batterers can affect abuse.”
So how do you know if you’re the victim of financial abuse? Ask yourself if your partner does any of the following.
- Forbid you from working?
- Sabotage employment opportunities?
- Control how money is spent?
- Deny you direct access to bank accounts?
- Give you an “allowance”?
- Force you to write bad checks or file fraudulent tax returns?
- Run up large debts on joint accounts without your permission?
- Force you to work in the family business without pay?
- Refuse to pay bills for accounts that are in your name in order to ruin your credit?
- Force you to turn over paychecks or public benefits checks?
- Force you to account for all money you spend by showing receipts?
- Apply for credit accounts using your name and personal information?
- Withhold money for basic necessities like food, clothing, medication and housing?
- Spend money on himself or herself but not allow you to do the same?
- Give you presents or pay for things and expect something in return?
- Force you to work while he or she does not and yet still controls all the money?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may be a victim of financial abuse. To talk to an advocate 24/7, who can help you with advice and next steps, call The National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-SAFE. Also, consider watching this series of 12 videos on topics such as surviving financial abuse, learning financial basics and budgeting your money.
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