In the grip of a fi­nan­cial abuser

When money is a weapon in a re­la­tion­ship

Sunday Times - - THE BACK PAGE -

WHEN it comes to do­mes­tic abuse, many think that it’s only about phys­i­cal bat­tery. We sel­dom talk about the emo­tional and fi­nan­cial im­pli­ca­tions of be­ing in an abu­sive re­la­tion­ship.

We some­times ques­tion why vic­tims don’t just leave — with­out con­sid­er­ing the fi­nan­cial im­pli­ca­tions of do­ing so, as well as other harm that may be­fall them.

Of­ten abusers will use emo­tional con­trol tac­tics, such as iso­lat­ing their part­ner and cre­at­ing a de­pen­dency to trap them.

One of the ways to deny a per­son au­ton­omy and in­de­pen­dence is to take over their fi­nances.

Abusers might not be overt in their ap­proach. They’ll per­haps start by dic­tat­ing how the per­son spends money. They’ll try to take the fi­nan­cial reins un­der the guise of pro­tect­ing their vic­tim against them­selves.

To achieve this, they might of­fer to take over the house­hold fi­nances — sug­gest­ing that in­come is pooled and the vic­tim gets an al­lowance. This won’t go both ways: one per­son will get an al­lowance while the other spends as and when they please.

Once they have con­trol of the fi­nances, they’ll usu­ally make ex­ec­u­tive de­ci­sions with­out con­sult­ing their part­ner.

The small­est pur­chase on the vic­tim’s side will be­come an is­sue of con­tention, how­ever. Any spend­ing done for the vic­tim’s ben­e­fit — such as a trip to the sa­lon — and the abuser will lose their tem­per.

Some­times vic­tims of fi­nan­cial abuse are well off at face value, but the abuser will have full con­trol of fi­nances and use guilt and other forms of ma­nip­u­la­tion to en­sure that their vic­tim has very lit­tle or no say in fi­nan­cial de­ci­sions.

Abusers also tend to drive their vic­tims into debt.

They may ask the part­ner to take out a loan in their name for them to splurge on a big flashy item. They’ll prom­ise to pay, but the mo­ment the vic­tim asks for re­pay­ment, they’ll lose their tem­per and bring up the many ways they as­sist. They will ac­cuse the vic­tim of be­ing un­fair.

Fi­nan­cial abusers can also shut their part­ners out of im­por­tant de­ci­sions, es­pe­cially re­lated to fi­nan­cial and es­tate plan­ning. They may re­as­sure their part­ner that all is well, while they’re only mak­ing pro­vi­sions for them­selves.

Abusers can also be dis­hon­est about their as­sets and in­come when they get mar­ried, to avoid hav­ing to fully dis­close their wealth should the mar­riage dis­solve.

Abusers may try to limit their part­ner’s de­sire to progress aca­dem­i­cally or in their ca­reer. They’ll be crit­i­cal of any at­tempts to fur­ther their ed­u­ca­tion, per­haps com­ment­ing that it’ll be wasted on the vic­tim be­cause they won’t get far any­way. Or they’ll claim there’s no money for ed­u­ca­tion, then turn around and buy some­thing ex­trav­a­gant and un­nec­es­sary just to re­in­force their power.

If you iden­tify with one or more of these sce­nar­ios, then you may be a vic­tim of fi­nan­cial abuse.

As with all forms abuse, get­ting out of the sit­u­a­tion might not be easy, es­pe­cially if it’s com­pounded by other forms of abuse.

For help in get­ting out of an abu­sive sit­u­a­tion, you can con­tact Life­Line on 0800 150 150

You can fol­low Tsamela on Twit­ter @Di­neoTsamela

Di­neo Tsamela

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