Protecting What Matters Most

Recognizing signs of financial abuse by a spouse or partner

On Behalf of | Nov 29, 2019 | Divorce

Financial abuse comes in many forms, from a partner who can’t pay their share of the bills, to those who take on most of the financial responsibilities and limit your access to accounts. One study showed alarming results as 70% of millennial women report being financially abused by their partner.

A survey by the financial website CentSai shows seven out of every 10 women ages 18 to 35 say their partner used money to manipulate or control them. Even more alarming are statistics showing one in four women are physically abused before age 25, and financial abuse happens in nearly every one of those cases, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

What types of behavior constitute financial abuse?

There are many forms, and some are obvious, while others can be more subtle. They include:

  • Your partner opens credit card accounts in your name without your consent
  • They fail to pay bills on accounts under your name, ruining your credit
  • They force you to take out loans from family members and don’t pay them back
  • Hiding money from you
  • Refusing to let you work
  • Sabotaging your career

Use caution when confronting them

Before facing your partner, assess whether you are in physical danger. If you fear for your safety, seek help from family or friends or contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline (800-799-7233 or TTY 800-787-3224) or a local hotline immediately. If you are not concerned about your physical safety, consider building a potential exit plan.

Look for patterns of behavior

Rarely is financial abuse a one-time incident but builds over the course of a relationship. Abusers typically show adoration for their partners at the beginning, but then start to isolate them from their support network of friends and family. They can progress to emotional abuse through manipulation and controlling behavior.

If you decide to confront them over financial matters, their reactions can be very telling. Do they apologize and promise to take steps to stop this behavior? Or, do they get angry, deny the accusations, or shift the blame to you and try to make you feel guilty for bringing the subject up in the first place?

Protect yourself and your financial well-being

Before taking your suspicions or evidence to your partner, make sure you know where your financial accounts are located and how you can access them. Some abusers have emptied accounts after being confronted. An experienced family law attorney here in New York can help you devise a plan if you are the victim of economic abuse and protect your financial well-being.


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