What is financial abuse? Signals, reports and recovery (2023)

What is financial abuse?

Financial abuse is a broad term that can be applied to many different problems that victims face. But in essence, it is about an abuser who steals someone's money, withholds someone's money, or uses the money to exercise control and power over them.

Types of financial abuse

  • steal someone's money
  • Take financial control away from someone
  • Putting a spouse or partner on “allowance” and controlling their access to money
  • Spend someone else's money carelessly
  • Tricking an elderly person into handing over their money in a scam
  • Taking advantage of an elderly relative to use their money

Although not as well known as other forms of abuse, it is very common and can play a crucial role in serious situations. RespectivelyPennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence, financial abuse occurs in 98% of abusive relationships and plays an important role in preventing victims from escaping these situations.

"This is the number one reason battered women and men don't leave their partners," Mary Joye, a licensed mental health counselor who has helped people get out of financially abusive situations, told Annuity.org. “They don't have enough money to go. This person usually makes sure that you don't have enough money to leave.

did you know

Financial abuse occurs in 98% of abusive relationships

Warning signs of financial abuse

The warning signs of financial abuse can vary depending on the specific situation. It's also important to remember that financial abuse often increases over time.

It could start with something as simple as a small request for money or giving up a little control. But it can grow over time and eventually lead to a victim.

A better understanding of the warning signs can help prevent a situation from getting out of hand.

Financial elder abuse

Few groups are more at risk of financial abuse than seniors.

Seniors can be easy targets for financial abuse, especially those unfamiliar with modern technology, battling conditions like dementia, or unable to care for themselves.

Abusers can include scammers and people who try to contact seniors to steal their money. This can take the form of unsolicited phone calls or emails that trick seniors into making a nefarious investment or thinking they are sending money to a family member when in fact they are a scammer.

Unfortunately, caregivers can also be a serious source of financial abuse among older adults. Older people who require regular assistance or are unable to fend for themselves can become victims of their carers, who may refuse to provide care if they do not receive or control the older person's money.

Denying older people access to care can land them in desperate situations where they have to give money to a perpetrator.

Family members sometimes commit financial abuse as well. When a family member takes control of an older person's finances that they can no longer manage on their own and starts stealing that money, it is a form of financial abuse.

Financial Abuse in Marriage

Financial abuse can also occur in marriages and relationships and become an integral part of domestic violence situations.

Money is a daily necessity and abusers use it to gain control over their victims. By gaining control of the couple's economy, the abuser manages to deprive the victim of her independence and make it difficult for her to get out of the situation.

"They have this 'what's mine is mine and what's yours is mine' mentality," Joye said. “If you feel like you're suffering and they're doing well financially, there's an imbalance of power there. It tends to be a power play and control mechanism.”

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Examples of financial abuse in a relationship

  • Putting a spouse on an allowance
  • Forcing paychecks on the abuser
  • Deny access to a credit card
  • Denying access to basic resources such as food or housing.

In addition to controlling your spouse's access to money, abusers can go further and prevent you from getting or keeping a job.

On the surface, financial abuse may appear to be about stealing money, but not having access to finance can quickly lead to a complete loss of control over one's life.

How can you tell if a loved one is being financially abused?

It's not always easy to know if a loved one is being financially abused. In some situations, the victim themselves may not even realize it, as some stalkers can be very effective at covering up what they are doing.

Some abusers know how to discourage a victim from seeking help, whether through frequent mood swings or unexpected lavish gifts, so they don't become too suspicious.

"They can seem generous if they're really just trying to calm you down enough to keep you locked up," Joye said.

But there are still signs from loved ones and relatives to pay attention to.

For those in relationships who may experience financial abuse, an important sign to look out for is how they are managing money and their financial situation. If the spouse presents themselves as an authority figure rather than an equal, it could mean that something is wrong.

did you know

Nearly 80% of Americans do not recognize financial abuse as domestic violence.

“When you start to see someone suffer or someone says, 'Oh, I can't do this because John won't let me, I can't do this because Sally won't let me.' These are adults. If an adult won't let you do something or buy something, then something is wrong."

Another sign is when you notice that a family member needs to ask their spouse's permission to make small daily purchases or when it comes to an allowance.

Family members should also be aware of any financial imbalance within the couple.

“If you see the husband driving a new Tesla and the wife driving an old car or vice versa, there are some signs,” Joye said.

For family members of seniors who may be at risk of financial abuse, it is important to keep an eye on their finances and their caregivers.

If you find that your family member's bank account has had large withdrawals or many small withdrawals added over time without a clear explanation, it could mean that something is wrong.

(Video) 4 signs of emotional abuse - Viann Nguyen-Feng

Also, if your family member contacts someone you don't know by phone or email offering you questionable business or investment opportunities, it could be an attempt to steal your money.

What is financial abuse? Signals, reports and recovery (2)

Ways out of financial abuse

The hard truth is that getting out of financially abusive situations can be very difficult. Perpetrators can do whatever it takes to keep victims from leaving.

Financial abuse is not as widely understood as other forms of abuse, so friends and family may be less aware that something is going on.

But there are ways for victims to escape these situations.

Depending on the severity of the circumstances, there are domestic violence hotlines available that may offer assistance or resources. If financial abuse is used to keep the victim in a physically abusive situation, the police should be contacted.

Victims may also turn to family or friends who can take them in and support them for a time while they recover or rebuild their own finances.

One important thing to remember when trying to get out of a financially abusive situation is that giving up control of your money forever to get out can be risky or harmful.

“You have to have an exit strategy, and part of that is money,” Joye said. “It's very frustrating when I hear customers say, 'I'll give you anything.' I just want out. But then when they leave, they don't have money for an apartment.

How to rebuild your finances after abuse

Rebuilding your finances after financial abuse can be challenging, but it's far from impossible. have a strong understanding offinancial educationcan help you make the right decisions to start building your own financial security.

In the short term, friends or family can help you recover. There are also many domestic violence shelters that can provide temporary housing.

After that, it's important to secure a job and develop your own cash flow that goes directly to you.

Increased finances may initially require a lower standard of living. But giving yourself the chance to build a nest egg on your budget whenever possible and saving as much as possible makes a world of difference when it comes to achieving financial independence.

What is financial abuse? Signals, reports and recovery (3)

How to report financial abuse

It is important to report financial abuse if you suspect it is occurring, as it can often be related to domestic violence situations.

One of the easiest ways to report is to contact a domestic violence hotline. Depending on the situation, you may also contact the police directly.

professional advice

The National Domestic Violence Hotline is 800-799-7233.

When trying to report financial abuse, one of the first steps is to record what you think is happening and gather evidence if you can. After that, you can report the abuse.

It may also be helpful to remove the victim from the situation before reporting to ensure that the abuser does not harm or retaliate against the victim.

It is important to remember to take action if you think you are aware of a financial abuse situation. Victims cannot always escape these situations on their own.

Helpful resources for people who are being financially abused

If you find yourself in a situation of financial abuse, there are many resources available that can help you.

Remember, the domestic violence hotline is 800-799-7233.

(Video) 10 Signs of Narcissistic Victim Syndrome

If you need to get out of a situation right away and you don't have the financial means, there are shelters all over the country that can provide you with free housing.

DomesticShelters.orghas a simple search feature to help you find options near where you live.

oNational Network to End Domestic Violencecontains resources and information on financial abuse and information for friends and family on how to help victims escape these situations.

oNational Domestic Violence HotlineThe site offers many resources and information, including ways to get help and what to do when you're out of the picture. The site also includes easy-to-search access to local resources.

If you are looking to rebuild your finances after getting out of the situation, there are free financial counseling options available to you.

oFinancial Planning Associationprovides free financial counseling to low-income individuals and survivors of domestic violence.

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Last edition:February 25, 2023

Written by

What is financial abuse? Signals, reports and recovery (5)

cristian simonsauthor of financial books[email protected]

(Video) How to protect yourself & others from Financial Abuse - Help and resources
  • Member of the Financial Planning and Counseling Association
  • Master in Integrated Business from UCF
  • Former member of the Society of Professional Journalists

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What is financial abuse? Signals, reports and recovery (6)

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Annuity.org authors adhere to strict sourcing guidelines and use only reputable sources of information, including authoritative financial publications, academic organizations, trade journals, reputable non-profit organizations, government reports, court records, and interviews with qualified experts. You can read more about our commitment to accuracy, fairness, and transparency in oureditorial guidelines.

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  1. California Department of Financial Protection and Innovation. (2022, October 4). Financial abuse is domestic abuse. recovered fromhttps://dfpi.ca.gov/2022/10/04/financial-abuse-is-domestic-abuse/
  2. WomensLaw.org. (2021, February 24). financial abuse recovered fromhttps://www.womenslaw.org/about-abuse/forms-abuse/financial-abuse
  3. National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. (2017, April 12). Quick Guide: Economic and Financial Abuse. recovered fromhttps://ncadv.org/blog/posts/quick-guide-economic-and-financial-abuse
  4. Ministry of Justice. (North Dakota.). Economic exploitation by family members. recovered fromhttps://www.justice.gov/elderjustice/financial-abuse
  5. National Center for Elder Abuse. (North Dakota.). Welcome to the National Center for Elder Abuse. recovered fromhttps://ncea.acl.gov/
  6. National Network to End Domestic Violence. (North Dakota.). About financial abuse. recovered fromhttps://nnedv.org/content/about-financial-abuse/
  7. Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence. (North Dakota.). financial abuse recovered fromhttps://www.pcadv.org/finanzmissbrauch/
  8. Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence. (North Dakota.). types of abuse. recovered fromhttps://www.pcadv.org/about-abuse/types-of-abuse/


What is the meaning of financial abuse? ›

Financial abuse involves a perpetrator using or misusing money which limits and controls their partner's current and future actions and their freedom of choice. It can include using credit cards without permission, putting contractual obligations in their partner's name, and gambling with family assets. [ 1]

What are 4 examples of financial abuse? ›

'financial or material abuse, including theft, fraud, exploitation, pressure in connection with wills, property or inheritance or financial transactions, or the misuse or misappropriation of property, possessions or benefits' (DH 2000).

What are the three types of financial abuse? ›

Types of financial abuse

Borrowing money and not giving it back. Stealing money or belongings. Taking pension payments or other benefit away from someone.

How do I recover from financial abuse? ›

Here's what to do to begin to recover from financial abuse.
  1. Secure Your Accounts. ...
  2. Set Up Fraud Alerts or Freeze Your Credit. ...
  3. Monitor Your Accounts. ...
  4. Work on Your Credit Score. ...
  5. Find an Ally. ...
  6. The Bottom Line.
Aug 19, 2022

What are the effects of financial abuse? ›

Breadcrumb. The effects of financial abuse can be devastating; it can leave you feeling trapped, lonely and isolated. And, with limited access to money or mounting debts, you may feel that you're unable to leave the partner, family member, friend or carer who has harmed you.

What is financial abuse in the workplace? ›

Financial abuse can be when someone:

forces you to take out money or get credit in your name. makes you hand over control of your accounts - this could include changing your login details. cashes in your pension or other cheques without your permission.

What are two indicators of financial abuse? ›

Possible indicators of financial or material abuse
  • Missing personal possessions.
  • Unexplained lack of money or inability to maintain lifestyle.
  • Unexplained withdrawal of funds from accounts.
  • Power of attorney or lasting power of attorney (LPA) being obtained after the person has ceased to have mental capacity.

What are red flags for financial abuse? ›

Giving away money, transferring assets to people, unusual spending behavior, checks being written to cash or the unexplained disappearance of cash or property are warning signs that something isn't right.

What are the 5 most common types abuse? ›

Types of domestic violence or abuse
  • psychological.
  • physical.
  • sexual.
  • financial.
  • emotional.

Who commits financial abuse? ›

For example, neighbors, caregivers, professionals, and even family or friends may take money without permission, fail to repay money they owe, charge too much for services, or not do what they were paid to do. Financial abuse—sometimes called financial exploitation—is a form of elder abuse.

What the three 3 basic types of financial reports and define each? ›

The income statement, balance sheet, and statement of cash flows are required financial statements. These three statements are informative tools that traders can use to analyze a company's financial strength and provide a quick picture of a company's financial health and underlying value.

Who is at risk of financial abuse? ›

Adults at risk

Although anyone can be the victim of financial abuse, people with care and support needs, such as those who have a long term illness or condition, disability or impairment, are particularly at risk.

How long does abuse recovery take? ›

There is no timeline on a recovery; every journey is different. It could take you 2 months, 2 years, or 20 years to recover. There are some severe relationships that have such serious effects that survivors may never recover, but psychological help can assist in easing the pain and speed up the recovery process.

How long does it take to recover financially? ›

The Financial Recovery Process is a slow and steady one. It can take several years to fully recover financially and repair, or rebuild, your credit. You may need to ask for help along the way. This allows you to accomplish your financial recovery goals faster.

What are examples of financial harm? ›

Financial harm covers theft, fraud, pressure to hand over or sign over property or money, misuse of property or welfare benefits, stopping someone getting their money or possessions, being scammed by rogue traders, online scams, by email or by post.

What are the short term effects of financial abuse? ›

It is helpful to consider the short-term and longer-term impacts of financial abuse separately. In the short term the victim may have the stress of paying bills and not having adequate means to pay, incurring interest and fees on charges, and creating a spiral of debt.

How do you deal with financial problems in the workplace? ›

The cost of financial stress at work
  1. Encourage planning. Encourage your employees to take time to understand their financial situation. ...
  2. Set challenges around saving. ...
  3. Set up online financial well-being sessions. ...
  4. Spotlight employee benefits. ...
  5. Help teach stress management skills. ...
  6. Send self-service resources.

What are the 5 signs of financial abuse? ›

Here are some examples to recognize signs of financial abuse:
  • Interfering with Work. Telling you where you can or can't work. ...
  • Forcing You into Debt. ...
  • They Call All the Shots. ...
  • Manipulating You with Money. ...
  • Messing With Benefits & Legal Threats.

What are key financial indicators? ›

5 key indicators

Profitability—Is your business making enough profit compared to other similar companies? Liquidity—Can the company meet its short-term obligations? Leverage—Is the company taking advantage of financing to operate and grow? Activity—Are you managing the assets of the company effectively?

What are the five financial indicators? ›

5 Essential Financial Ratios for Every Business. The common financial ratios every business should track are 1) liquidity ratios 2) leverage ratios 3)efficiency ratio 4) profitability ratios and 5) market value ratios.

What are some indicators that you should be suspicious of abuse? ›

Indicators of maltreatment can include the following:
  • Obvious malnourishment, listlessness or fatigue.
  • Stealing or begging for food.
  • Lack of personal care – poor personal hygiene, torn and/or dirty clothes.
  • Untreated need for glasses, dental care or other medical attention.
  • Frequent absence from or tardiness to school.

How do you know if someone is in financial trouble? ›

That said, there are a few common signs that someone you care about is struggling with debt.
  1. Receiving collection letters or phone calls. ...
  2. Spending doesn't match income. ...
  3. Becoming evasive about finances. ...
  4. Continually asking to borrow money.
Oct 6, 2021

What is identity and financial abuses? ›

Financial Identity Theft occurs when a thief steals an individual's personal identity and commits a crime that results in financial injury to the victim. Information can include name, bank account number, credit card numbers and other personal financial data.

What is the most serious form of abuse? ›

Studies show emotional abuse may be the most damaging form of maltreatment causing adverse developmental consequences equivalent to, or more severe than, those of other forms of abuse (Hart et al. 1996).

What is the highest form of abuse? ›

Abusive head trauma (AHT), also known as the shaken baby syndrome, is a form of child physical abuse with the highest mortality rate (greater than 20%).

Which form of abuse is the biggest? ›

By far the most visible form of abuse is physical abuse. This kind of abuse is condemned by almost everyone and it is estimated that one in four women are victims of this kind of abuse. The most common forms of abuse include hitting, throwing and scalding, even suffocation is on the list.

Can you be charged with financial abuse? ›

If you have experienced economic abuse, you may be able to pursue a prosecution against the abuser for controlling or coercive behaviour, depending on the circumstances. Some economically abusive behaviour may fall into other criminal offences, such as theft, fraud or criminal damage.

Can financial abuse cause PTSD? ›

Abuse changes the brain. Many women who have left abusive relationships have brains which mirror those of war veterans. Economic abuse has unique impacts on the mental health of victims. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is 7 times higher in relationships where economic abuse has occurred.

Is financial abuse a crime in the US? ›

In some situations, the offenses also include financial abuse or financial exploitation. If you have been accused of such offenses, you may face a felony criminal charge, restraining order, and other serious penalties.

What are the four key reports in financial reporting? ›

For-profit businesses use four primary types of financial statement: the balance sheet, the income statement, the statement of cash flow, and the statement of retained earnings.

What are the 4 general purpose financial reports? ›

4 types of general purpose financial reporting

The four types of financial statements include Balance Sheet, Cash Flow Statement, Income Statement, and Retained Earnings Statement.

What is financial reporting and why is it important? ›

In simple terms, a financial report is critical for understanding how much money you have, where the money is coming from, and where your money needs to go. Financial reporting is important for management to make informed business decisions based on facts of the company's financial health.

Why is it important to respond to financial abuse? ›

Financial abuse can have a serious impact upon a person, not only on their money or property but also on their overall wellbeing, physical and mental health.

What is bad financial behavior? ›

Spending more than you earn is one of the most damaging financial habits. Getting debts and massive credit card bills will become a routine for you. In such situations, planning investment will be a farfetched dream. Bad Credit score: Not paying bills on time is very bad for your credit score.

What are the signs of financial abuse in adults? ›

Possible indicators of financial or material abuse
  • Missing personal possessions.
  • Unexplained lack of money or inability to maintain lifestyle.
  • Unexplained withdrawal of funds from accounts.
  • Power of attorney or lasting power of attorney (LPA) being obtained after the person has ceased to have mental capacity.


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