Economic Empowerment Resources For Survivors

What is Financial Abuse?

Financial abuse (or economic abuse) is one of the most powerful methods used by batterers to gain power and control in a relationship. It can make you feel trapped and affect your ability to stay safe after you have left the relationship. Financial abuse can impact many things, including basic finances, public benefits, credit, banking and retirement, employment, education, and housing.

As with physical, emotional, and sexual abuse, financial abuse often begins subtly and progresses overtime. It can even look like love in the beginning. The abuser may make statements such as "I know you are under a lot of stress right now, so why don't you just let me take care of the finances and I'll give you money each week to take care of what you need." Eventually, the abuser may begin to give you less and less of an "allowance" and if you decide you want to take control of your finances, you've discovered all of the accounts have been moved and you no longer have access to family funds. In other cases, the abuse can be more overt with the batter using violence or threats of violence to keep you from working or having access to funds. For more information about financial empowerment for victims of domestic violence, please visit

Examples of Financial Abuse can include:

  • Controlling how all of the money is spent
  • Withholding money or "giving you an allowance"
  • Forbidding you to work
  • Sabotaging work or employment opportunities by stalking or harassing you at the workplace. Or, causing you to lose your job by physically battering you prior to important meetings or interviews
  • Not including you in investment or banking decisions
  • Forcing you to write bad checks or file fraudulent tax returns
  • Preventing you from owning or using credit cards
  • Running up large amounts of debt on joint accounts
  • Refusing to work or contribute to the family income
  • Withholding basic living resources, medication or food
  • Hiding assets from you
  • Destroying your homework from school
  • Devaluing your financial contribution to the household
  • Stealing your identity, property or inheritance
  • Forcing you to work in a family business without pay
  • Refusing to pay bills and ruining your credit history and score
  • Forcing you to turn over public benefits or threatening to turn you in for "cheating or misusing benefits"
  • Filing false insurance claims
  • Refusing to pay or evading child support; or manipulating the divorce process by drawing it out by hiding or not disclosing assets

What does a healthy financial relationship look like?

  • You both have access to financial statements, although one partner may manage bill paying
  • You and your partner identify when you have different values about money and negotiate financial goals
  • You both recognize and respect that decision-making is equal regardless of who earns more money.
  • You both have access to money on your own
  • You are both knowledgeable of how money is spent