| June 20, 2016

Financial Abuse More Prevalent, Less Obvious

One in three millennials has felt the sting of financial abuse from a partner.

Financial abuse and infidelity hurt you both

Nearly a third of Millennials (18-35), say they have suffered abuse at the hands of a partner. Not physical in this case but financial – a money tactic where perpetrators use finance to assert power or control in a relationship. Examples of financial abuse include: cutting off access to a shared bank account  or financial infidelity, such as concealing activities regarding joint funds or opening secret credit card account. Centsai, a financial wellness community for millennials says about 30 percent of the millennials surveyed had been victims of financial abuse on at least one occassion.

The survey reveals, slightly more men than women say that they have been wronged by a partner:  “53 percent of the self-reported victims were male. And 65 percent of respondents said the perpetrator was, in their case, a man.”

“The results are concerning in that such a high number of millennials — who are faced with a myriad of financial challenges anyway — have fallen victim to financial abuse and infidelity,” Doria Lavagnino, co-founder and president of CentSai says. “The good news is through an increased awareness via social media, we see millennials are finding ways to protect themselves.”

Money problems in relationships aren’t new or uncommon either.  In fact historically money has been the root of many domestic altercations and ruin.  It also remains the number one cause of divorce.

Financial abuse however, is a form of domestic violence that is often overlooked and rarely happens in isolation.  Most victims suffer physical, emotional or sexual abuse, but financial abuse is often insidious and wrapped up in what may appear to be a normal relationship. Very rarely do victims in these relationships speak of the issue.

This could be because victims of financial abuse are embarrassed to admit it let alone talk about it or are unaware that they are in a financially abusive relationship. How could they not know? Because some perpetrators mask and masquerade the abuse as love, concern and endearment which sounds like this: “Honey, I know you’re under a lot of stress right now so you take care of the chores and I’ll take care of the finances.”

Physical abuse on the other hand is more overt, harder to conceal and thus appears to be more prevalent. However, the statistics show there is interconnectedness between the two. In 98 percent of domestic abuse cases there is some evidence of financial abuse.  And it is the women, millennial women (18 to 34) who are at greatest risk of becoming victims of domestic violence.

This was the case with one of Consolidated Credit’s clients, Judith. She was in both a physically and financially abusive relationship. She tried leaving on numerous occasions but despite the beatings she admits that the finances were also keeping her there.  Judith finally fled from her abusive husband of 25 years.

“I walked out the door with nothing but the clothes on my back and my cell phone,” she says. “I didn’t have any material things but I was free. I was free to start over, and I didn’t have to live under that abuse anymore. A lot of women don’t leave because they’re scared. A lot of it is financial.”

Are you being financially abused?

Here are some early warning signs of financial abuse. If your significant other…

  • forbids you to get a job outside of the home so you must be dependent on that other person
  • goes through great lengths to sabotage any employment opportunities or prevent you from going to work or school or harasses you at work
  • forces you to hand over your wages or benefits every month
  • beats you up emotionally prior to an interview or presentation in an attempt to keep you from attending interviews or conducting meetings
  • gives you an allowance and tells you when and where to spend it. or requests receipts to back up purchases
  • excludes you from financial decisions for the household
  • refuses to pay bills that are in your name, takes large amounts of debt on joint accounts or in your name, ruining your credit score in the process
  • hoards and hides assets from you

So what can you do if you’re being abused?

If you’re in a financially or physically abusive relationship, seek help.

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