When most people think of domestic abuse, they think of physical violence, such as hitting, kicking, choking, and pushing a partner in ways that inflict physical injuries. They may also realize that emotional abuse, including belittling, name-calling, and the use of derogatory language against a partner, forms of domestic violence.
These are two forms of domestic violence, but they are not the only types that exist. Another way abusive partners commit domestic violence toward their victims is through financial abuse. Financial abuse is the use of money or other assets or access to money and assets to control a victim’s actions.
Types of Financial Abuse
Financial abuse can take many forms. At its core, financial abuse aims to limit or restrict the victim’s ability to support him- or herself financially and take actions that involve using money or other financial assets. Examples of financial abuse include:
- Controlling all the couple’s finances, sometimes to the point of not permitting the victim to log into financial accounts or see the amount of money the couple has.
- Prohibiting the victim from holding a job or if the victim does work, demanding that he or she turn over all paychecks and other compensation to the abuser.
- Sabotaging the victim’s attempts to find or keep employment.
- Making purchases with joint money without the victim’s input or consent.
- Using the victim’s identity to make purchases or apply for credit without his or her consent.
- Hiding assets from the victim.
- Forcing the victim to work at the abuser’s business without paying him or her.
- Stealing the victim’s money or assets, either through direct theft or through deception.
All Domestic Violence Is About Control
All forms of domestic violence have the same goal: controlling the victim. There are many different ways to control another person’s actions, and one of these is to restrict his or her access to money.
Financial abuse has many similarities to other types of domestic violence, as well. In most cases, the control begins subtly and then escalates over time. This could mean an abuser pushing for commitments like moving in together, merging bank accounts, and marriage early in the relationship. It also frequently occurs alongside other forms of domestic violence, like emotional abuse and physical violence.
Another similarity between financial abuse and other forms of domestic violence is its lasting effects on victims. Financial abuse victims can suffer from depression and anxiety even years after the abuse occurs. They can also find it difficult to trust others and themselves.
Work with an Experienced Family Lawyer
You should never feel like you are trapped in a marriage or relationship. Do not let your lack of access to money stop you from seeking legal help from an experienced family law lawyer Rockville, MD relies on. You do have legal options. Contact a seasoned family lawyer and find out how they can help.
Thank you to our friends and contributors at Daniel J. Wright for their insight into domestic abuse and family law.