According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, between 94-99% of domestic violence survivors have also experienced economic abuse.
In a world where costs are going up quickly, it’s no surprise that 3 in 4 couples have tension when it comes to money. But there’s a big difference between healthy talks about money and something far more dangerous: financial abuse.
This form of abuse can often fly under the radar but can wreak your finances, self-esteem, and general well-being. The first step to combating it? Awareness.
Here are five red flags that can help you recognize potential financial abuse in your relationship.
1. Financial Secrecy
In a healthy relationship, open communication about finances is a green flag. If your partner insists on keeping their financial matters a secret, beware. It’s one thing to have a private checking and/or savings account for personal spending (both of which my husband and I have). But it’s another when they refuse to discuss their income, expenses, or debts altogether. Financial secrecy can be a sign that something isn’t quite right.
2. Control Over Your Income
Do you feel like your partner is constantly monitoring and controlling your spending? If they demand access to your paycheck, control how or when you access money, or dictate how you should spend it, these are red flags. In financial abuse, you’ve got one person calling the shots when it comes to the other person’s money, leaving the victim feeling helpless.
3. Forced Financial Dependency
A healthy relationship should encourage independence and autonomy. If your partner insists you to depend on them for money and doesn’t want you to work or follow your financial dreams, that could be a problem. Financial abuse thrives when one person feels trapped in a situation where they can’t support themselves.
4. Sabotaging Your Financial Stability
Another red flag to watch out for is a partner who actively sabotages your financial stability. This can include things like maxing out your credit cards without your permission, keeping you from going to job interviews, or intentionally causing you to lose your job. This behavior is to keep you vulnerable and dependent.
5. Manipulative Debt Accumulation
Sometimes, financial abusers use deceitful tactics to rack up debt in your name, leaving you with the burden of paying it off. They may push you to take on debt for them, a car loan, for example. But it could also be taking out loans, opening credit cards, or using your personal information without your knowledge or consent. Discovering hidden debt in your name is a significant red flag. If you do not feel equipped, or safe, to confront your partner about the debt, ask for help right away.
If you are in a financially abusive relationship, the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence outlines steps to take and resources here -> Quick Guide: Economic and Financial Abuse (ncadv.org).
Healthy relationships are built on trust, open communication, and mutual respect. Even when it comes to money. Don’t let financial abuse cut down your sense of self-worth and security. You have the power to break free and build a future that’s healthy.
If you or someone you know if in an abusive relationship, please get help right away by contacting:
The National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE) www.ndvh.org
National Dating Abuse Helpline 1-866-331-9474 www.loveisrespect.org