Financial abuse is rarely noticed and I’ve been hearing a lot about financial abuse lately. Friends are relating stories of how their friends have been financially abused for years and no one knew. The fact is that sometimes the victim isn’t aware what is what is happening to them. They don’t tend to label what is going on in their relationship with ‘abuse’. Often the victim will validate their partner’s actions and the abuse finds itself falling into the realm of ‘normal’. Other times financial abuse dovetails with other forms of abuse such as emotional or physical abuse because it deems the victim powerless to leave the relationship when, in fact, it is another form of control.
Financial abuse can also be called material abuse or economic abuse depending on where you live in the world. In the end it’s all the same thing. According to Vancouver Coastal Health financial abuse “can involve the theft or misuse of a person’s money or property. It includes such behaviours as:
- Misusing a power of attorney,
- Persuading, tricking, or threatening the adult out of money, property, or possessions (and this includes attempts to do any of these);
- Cashing pension or other cheques without authorization;
- Use of the adult’s money for purposes other than what was intended by the adult.”
I would add another item to this list ~ when one spouse has to go their partner and ask for money. It’s ok if you have both agreed that as a measure of checks and balances that you talk about large expenditures. That’s an agreed way to ensure you are both on the same path. What I am referring to is being financially controlled. Not having access to bank accounts or being given an ‘allowance’ so that household chores, such as grocery shopping, can be done. That’s financial control and it is abusive.
Financial abuse is a crime so if you are being financially abused or if you think a friend might be financially abused here is a link to The National Association for Women and the Law’s handbook. Agency’s that are available to help are listed on page 49. http://nawl.ca/pdf/Money_Guide_Web.pdf