Dirty Little Secret – Part 2
Financial abuse usually begins subtly. It might feel like love and concern or that you are being taken care of at first because your spouse or partner is taking care of all of the finances. However, over time the abuser “turns up the heat” and things start to feel different. It is similar to the story of a frog in a frying pan. If you put a live frog in a hot frying pan, it will jump right out. But if you put a live frog into a warm frying pan and slowly start to raise the heat, then the frog will get comfortable and before you know it the frog is dinner!
Financial abuse may be a new topic for many people. You may be wondering how to identify whether you or someone you know and/or care about may be a victim of financial about. Here are some signs that you might be experiencing financial abuse:
- You’re not allowed to work. If you are allowed to work, you’re required to give your money to your spouse or partner.
- Your spouse or partner sabotaged your job or job opportunities
- Your family money is controlled by your spouse or partner. You have no access to your bank account.
- You’re not included in financial decisions.
- You’re not allowed or encouraged to get job training or any kind of training or schooling opportunities.
- You’ve had to write bad checks or commit financial fraud.
- Your spouse or partner has run up large amounts of debt and some of it in your name – and you had no say about it. (They may have convinced you to take out student loans) You may not even know about it.
- Your spouse or partner might refuse to work, forcing you to support him or her.
- Your spouse or partner has helped to ruin your credit score.
- You have been forced to skip paying bills to indulge in some desires of your spouse or partner.
- Your spouse or partner has stolen your identity.
- All of the bills are in your name because your spouse or partner says they have bad credit.
- Your spouse or partner refuses to add your name to the bank account, title to your car, and home even though you are paying for them.
- You are required to sign documents without looking at them.
Financial abuse is one of the most powerful ways to keep a victim trapped in a relationship. Abusers control the way their partners spend your money. They use power, control, and manipulation to confuse and belittle their victims. The victims become financially dependent on their abusers.
Victims are told that they are not good with money, so they are likely to relinquish all control of their money to their abusers. Victims are often blamed for being stupid – by their abusers and those who become aware of the abuse. Many may wonder how they could have let this happen. Financial abuse triggers fear and shame in the victims. Remember, financial abuse has no socioeconomic, education, or racial boundaries. Anyone can be a victim.
There is help and there is hope. I believe financial education is a great deterrent for financial abuse. If you know how to manage your money, it gives you confidence and understanding and makes it less likely that you will relinquish control of your money.
If you are concerned about your safety or the safety of someone you care about, please contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).
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