Financial abuse had previously been seen as something that happens to the older, more vulnerable generation. However, it is now recognised as a form of coercive control in domestic abuse situations.
Financial abuse is usually accompanied by some other form of abuse in domestic abuse situations, for example, emotional abuse or physical abuse. Financial abuse occurs when an individual no longer has control over their assets and day-to-day finances. They cannot control how their income, or other household money is spent, whether that be for small or large household outgoings.
Who’s at risk?
Financial abuse does not discriminate. It does not matter what age, race, or gender a person is, it affects all groups in society. We’ve seen so many stories over the years of famous individuals who’ve opened up about experiencing financial abuse. Tina Turner experienced severe financial abuse in her marriage. Her husband used this tactic to prevent her ever leaving him. She did get to leave him in the end, but she left with nothing and lived in poverty for a period while she rebuilt her life. Throughout their marriage, her husband had complete control over all her income, which left her unable to access it. He continued to intimidate and financially abuse her after the marriage ended. A tactic used by many abusers to continue to control their victim.
You don’t need to be financially well-off to be at risk of financial abuse. The abuser is simply interested in exerting control over their partner and uses whatever money their partner has to do this. According to research undertaken on behalf of the Banking & Payments Federation, 22% of young women in Ireland were not in control of their finances and are more likely to rely on others for help. Despite this, only 17% of this group were concerned about someone taking advantage of them financially.
How to protect yourself from financial abuse and where to seek help
To protect yourself from financial abuse, you need to be in full control of your finances and understand what happens with your money from week to week/month to month. You can help with this by creating a budget to keep account of your income and outgoings. It is also important to have people in your life that you trust and can talk to about any concerns you have. If this is not possible, then I would recommend calling a support helpline such as Womensaid if you are concerned. Sometimes it is difficult for an individual to understand they are experiencing financial abuse while they are still living it. If you don’t feel comfortable calling a service specifically related to domestic abuse, there are other options available. The Samaritans are available to offer emotional support in times of distress. Sometimes, speaking the words out loud in a confidential manner will help you understand the situation more clearly.
If you found this information useful and would like to read more about financial abuse, you can look up some of my other blog posts related to this topic, such as What is Financial Abuse? and Regaining Control after Financial Abuse.
Phone numbers for telephone support services available:
Women’s Aid Ireland: 1800 341 900
Samaritans: 116 123
Men’s Aid Ireland: 01 554 3811