Abuse can manifest in many subtle ways, with one example of a form that often goes under-discussed being the signs of financial abuse. As with all forms of abuse, it's important to note that financial abuse can occur in any form of relationship,from romantic couples to roommates and from friends to siblings. If you think you may be in a financially abusive relationship, always remember that it is not your fault — and that there are resources available if you need them. Being able to recognize the signs is the first step.
Financial abuse can manifest differently dependently on your specific circumstances, but according to the National Network to End Domestic Violence, it often involves "tactics to limit the partner's access to assets or conceal information and accessibility to the family finances." There are also a number of general warning signs of financial abuse that frequently occur, so if these warning signs ring true for you, the most important thing is to take care of yourself: Get to safe space where you can talk about your situation with a trustworthy person, like a counselor or close friend. There are also many resources available online, as well as hotlines you can call if you think you may be experiencing abuse.
Let's check out some of the more common signs of financial abuse below:
1. Pressure To Make Career-Related Choices
As Ginger Dean, Founder of Girls Just Wanna Have Funds, explains over at the Huffington Post, when it comes to financial abuse, people will often feel pressured to either leave a job or work minimal hours, preventing them from developing a long-term savings or reliable income of their own. It's also possible, as Dean explains, that if a person is "able to work full-time in such a relationship, then her partner often sabotages her career/work life by forcing her to stay home or giving an ultimatum around quitting the job or ending the relationship."
Your career choices, though, your own. If, for example, you want to cut your hours at work or take a less stressful position, that these decisions are yours, and not because you feel pressured by someone else.
2. Funds Go Missing Unexpectedly
As explained by the Massachusetts Disabled Persons Protection Commission, if you find that your funds are going missing unexpectedly, that is definitely reason to step back and reevaluate the situation. For example, if you've recently combined bank accounts and you're frequently running out of money because of the other person's financial behavior, that is definitely not acceptable. The DPPC puts it simply: If you're ever confused about what is happening with your money, you should seriously evaluate whether someone is trying to abuse you financially.
3. You Feel Like You're Not Allowed To Have Your Own Bank Account
As Ginger Dean stresses, if someone insists on having only one bank account despite your own feelings or refuses to give you individual access to your own money, that can be a huge warning sign. While many couples or families combine their finances, it's important that everyone has their own access to their own funds. If you feel like you need to ask permission to make access your own wages, that's not OK. While many people combine finances in order to make certain things easier, such as sending out bills or paying the rent, you should never feel like your partner solely controls the money that is meant to be for both of you.
4. Being Coaxed Or Pressured Into Financial Decisions
As the Massachusetts DPPC explains, if someone is being coaxed or otherwise otherwise pressured to make financial decisions, that can still qualify as financial abuse. Even if you technically, for example, choose to swipe your own debit card for a purchase, if someone is pressuring or threatening you into doing it, it's not really your own decision. You have the right to make your own decisions with your money without feeling pressured or fearful about it. If you find yourself making decisions because you're afraid of what will happen if you choose otherwise, definitely seek outside help.
5. Having To Explain Each Penny Spent
As Maggie Germano writes over at The Financial Diet, if someone is asking you to explain every single penny spent, that can be a sign of controlling behavior. While sometimes couples and families will follow budgets together, or make certain agreed-upon purchases or expenses, you should never feel like you are accountable for another person for the way you spend your own, individual money. If you feel like you are interrogated by someone in your life based on how much you spend on your lunch or a new outfit, you may want to step back and evaluate where this behavior is stemming from.
Remember: If you feel that you might be experiencing financial abuse, reaching out for help is always an option. The National Network to End Domestic Violence is a good place to start. Because your health and happiness matters.
Images: krisanapong detraphiphat/Moment/Getty Images; Giphy (5)