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Financial Abuse: A Non-Physical Type of Domestic Violence

There are many ways an abusive spouse can hurt his or her partner. Domestic violence is not always physical. Sometimes, it is emotional violence, or sexual abuse, or even using joint finances or technology to control a victim. When money and assets are used to control a victim, financial abuse is occurring.

When any type of domestic violence is present in a marriage, that marriage needs to end. You should never feel like you are trapped in a relationship; if you feel you are being manipulated and controlled by your partner, contact an experienced divorce lawyer to start the divorce process.

Recognizing Financial Abuse

Financial abuse can be difficult to recognize because often, acts of financial abuse are overlooked and even normalized in our culture. It is not uncommon for one partner to handle a household’s finances or to suggest that the other partner leave the workforce to devote him or herself to raising the couple’s children. These actions are not inherently abusive. When an individual controls the household’s finances by refusing to consult with his or her partner on financial decisions or prohibiting him or her from accessing financial accounts and records, he or she is financially abusing the partner. Similarly, prohibiting one’s partner from working is an act of financial abuse.

Other signs of financial abuse include:

  • Using a partner’s personal information to access his or her accounts or open accounts without his or her permission;
  • Sabotaging a partner’s attempts to find work, stay employed, or save money;
  • Forcing a partner to relinquish his or her earnings or public benefits checks;
  • Withholding money from a partner or giving him or her an “allowance;”
  • Forcing the victim to write fraudulent checks or commit other acts of financial fraud without his or her consent.

Additionally, requiring a partner to work in a family business without compensating him or her is an act of financial abuse.

What to do if You are a Financial Abuse Victim

If you are facing financial abuse, create a safety plan that enables you to leave the household and your partner. Keep all of your financial documents safe, such as your account numbers and passwords, your work documents, and your identification.

Create a secret bank account and deposit money into it as you plan to leave your partner. Consider also opening your own secret credit card to be used to make purchases you need now and after you leave. The money you earn is yours. You have the right to use it and keep it.

Work with an Experienced Divorce Lawyer

If you recognize signs of financial abuse in your marriage, take the financial resources you have and get out of the home as soon as you can. You do not deserve to be in a financially abusive relationship – nobody does. Once you are safely out of the home, contact our team of experienced divorce lawyers at Moen Sheehan Meyer, Ltd to set up your initial consultation with us.

Published May 6, 2018
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