Category: 

What Is Financial Abuse?

Article Details
  • Originally Written By: Allison Boelcke
  • Revised By: Wanda Marie Thibodeaux
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 17 September 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2014
    Conjecture Corporation
  • Print this Article
Free Widgets for your Site/Blog
Dogs don’t see the world in black and white, but their color range is more limited than a human's.  more...

October 2 ,  1941 :  Nazi Germany began its military offensive to seize Moscow.  more...

Financial abuse is a form of mistreatment and fraud in which someone forcibly controls another person's money or other assets. It can involve, for instance, stealing cash, not allowing a victim to take part in any financial decisions or preventing a victim from having a job. The issue tends to occur most often in domestic relationships, such as between a husband and wife or an elderly parent and an adult child. People don't always recognize the problem, because an abuser purposely might select an isolated, vulnerable victim who is unlikely to realize what's happening or who will feel too ashamed to report it.

Cases Involving the Elderly

Elder financial abuse involves someone targeting an older adult, often a parent or other close relative, in the hope of being allowed access to his or her financial information. He might act as though he is simply helping manage the senior's finances, but instead, he takes the money for himself. This might be in the form of convincing an elderly person to sign legal financial documents or getting the victim to change the mailing address on bills and other records.

Ad

People who attempt to control and take money from the elderly have a variety of motives. Some might see individuals who are disabled or lonely as easy targets, because these people might be more likely to accept help and allow others to access their records and accounts. Adult children might feel they are entitled to their parents' wealth, especially if they are set to receive inheritances. Others select targets based on the desire for revenge for a poor relationship.

Marital Manipulation

Financial abuse also can occur in marriages as a means to have control over a partner in order to make him feel hopeless enough to never leave. One partner might not allow the other to have access to any of the household money, or he might give only a small allowance. He might even confiscate the victim’s own paycheck or other means of personal funds. In some cases, a person might force a spouse to quit a job, or he might cause disruptions in the workplace to get the victim fired. Another potential instance is when one partner purposely accumulates large amounts of debt using joint checking or credit accounts.

Abuse of Children

Some people choose to financially hurt kids rather than an elderly individual or spouse. The majority of parents are legally able to handle money issues for their minor children, so these cases frequently go unreported. The motivation, similar to cases in marriages, is usually to keep the child from eventually leaving. The parent might willfully avoid teaching the child how to manage his funds, or he might take money the child and other relatives have set aside for things like college, having no intent to pay it back. He might lie about the stealing, saying he's investing it on the minor's behalf.

Another common issue is to take care of money-related issues but to purposely not discuss them with the child first. The parent usually says he's just trying to make things easier or be nice, but by beating the child to the financial punch, he is essentially controlling what a child acquires or does. When the child tries to assert more independence, the abuser makes him feel guilty, saying that he is unappreciative or ungrateful not only for the financial "help," but for everything else provided, too.

Between Friends

Sometimes, this type of mistreatment occurs between friends. Here, as in cases with the elderly, a person preys on the other individual's fear of loneliness or need for true help. He might say, for example, that he won't be friends or provide other assistance anymore without access to financial information, or that a true friend would loan him money. He also might conveniently "forget" his cash or credit cards when out, forcing the friend to pick up the tab and then never repaying him.

Effects

Being financially manipulated, either subtly or conspicuously, can result in serious monetary instability. Quality of living often suffers as a consequence. Many people feel embarrassed about the situation and don't get help, which just perpetuates the problem. They also often suffer from stress, either from the abuser's words or direct actions, or from the aftereffects of those circumstances, such as not being able to make a mortgage payment.

In some cases, the results of the problem can trickle down to others. If someone convinces a senior citizen to sign over his home, for example, that property can't be given as an inheritance. Loved ones might have to work at "cleaning up" the financial mess long after the control stops, and if courts need to get involved, this potentially can take years to complete. It also can require the individual who steps in to put some of his own money toward resolution, such as paying for an attorney.

Warning Signs

A person might be experiencing financial manipulation if he appears withdrawn or depressed, or if his physical appearance and hygiene seems to be suffering. He might not make decisions about money with confidence on his own. Discrepancies or unusual transactions on bank records, sudden changes in feelings for a particular person, increased use of alcohol or other substances and the controlling individual often being around are all additional warning signs.

Prevention

One of the simplest ways to prevent financial mistreatment is to stay involved in a circle of friends or social groups so that a network is available for help. People also can insist on opening their own mail and having access to all financial records. Modern technology reduces risk through options like direct deposit and automatic bill payments. Applying a rule of three is also a good idea — this means that, any time a person needs to discuss money, at least two other people participate in the conversation. An individual even can use strategies like digitally recording financial meetings so there is a record of what happened.

Reporting

When a person suspects that someone else is being financially controlled, he should first contact local authorities, such as the victim's bank and the police department, as well as an attorney. These agencies will launch formal investigations and, if necessary, prosecute the offenders. Individuals also can make reports to other agencies, such as the National Center for Elder Abuse in the US. Regardless of how a person makes a report, a complaint usually has a better result if the filer has some documentation to support the claims.

Ad

More from Wisegeek

You might also Like

Discuss this Article

anon970148
Post 8

I was married for 37 years and my husband earned a six figure salary. He gave me so much grief over my use of the credit card to purchase three outfits. While I worked, I had to buy groceries out of my earnings as well as use my income to provide clothing for the children. My wardrobe suffered and I got strange looks at work regarding my condition of dress.

He would not allow me access to the checking account. If I would go to the bank, he would give me more grief than I could stand. He would also beat me to the mail box so I didn't have total access to the accounts. I am legally separated now and as happy as can be.

anon341436
Post 7

I just got out of a long term relationship. Over the last couple of years in the relationship, he stopped paying his portion of the bills and I used 3/4 of my savings three times to pay our home out of foreclosure above my part of the bills.

The fourth time it went into foreclosure, I took my last savings and moved out. He is losing the home as I type, for not paying for it. I feel he was manipulating me into paying his bills so he could spend my savings.

I have lost my home and relationship and have to move. Is this financial manipulation? I have suffered for it as he refuses to even acknowledge it is owed me, since "I was just paying bills".

anon316184
Post 6

What about parents who financially abuse their adult children who are in a more vulnerable financial position (who are in a position of financial indigence)? Nobody hears about that!

anon164192
Post 3

I think this is abuse. I am also married to someone who is in control of all the money and the homes we own are in his name. I am trying to get away now and it is very hard because I don't have access to money. I am going to get on my own, even if I have to start all over with my two children. I hope you get away and get on your own. I wish you and your children the best.

anon160291
Post 2

I feel very sad about your story, I feel sad for you and children. I assume you have (or had) feelings of attachment and love for him strong enough to be able to endure such situation.

Maybe it is rude to say, but your partner used you and your feelings all those years. After your description of his behaviour towards you and children, he seems to be very selfish opportunist. You mention "his house." Do you mean the house is on his name only? It seems that everything goes in for his personal advantage here and that things are worse than a financial abuse.

I am afraid that with time the situation will not get better because from what he is now, he is not going to transform into a loving, caring and generous man.

Many women like you make sacrifices for the well-being of their families and children and the slow process of abuse unfairly takes place very often. But like a soccer game needs two gates to be played, a relationship needs two partners to be involved in every aspect of it especially when you have children.

With all my compassion to you, I am asking Lord to help you and give you the strength to pass through this.

anon132212
Post 1

I have been with my partner for 11 years. i have worked most of the years. he has been building a house for many years, so I and my two children have moved many times to a lot of different addresses.

At every address where we lived, I paid for everything and all bills have been in my name at these addresses. the only bills he pays are those in his self build.

he has never paid a bill or helped with anything in my name, leaving my name in big debt but his clean.

my partner used to give me 50 a week to feed all four of us a week and has put that up to 100 pounds in the last few years which is constantly moaned about. I no longer have a job due to being pregnant. i am made to feel useless for not providing an income.

When i express my upset with this situation he takes and means of money from me, leaving me to worry about how to get petrol and food. i do not have any money to leave and feel completely trapped.

I am now living in a small unit with him and my children because i can no longer pay the rent on a house so our only option is a unit on the land he is building on. His house is almost finished and i have had not a single piece of input into this house that has taken six years to build.

Nothing is in my name and after 11 years, marriage to him, is little more than a swear word because he said i might take his house from him. please, can someone tell me is this abuse?

i am now having to do things i should not to get money for me and my kids or we would not have nothing. He has expensive hobbies that often become obsessions and always put them before myself and children he never does anything with us as a family and never does anything that does not benefit him. i am seven months pregnant with his second child and have another child from a previous relationship whom i also raise myself.

Post your comments

Post Anonymously

Login

username
password
forgot password?

Register

username
password
confirm
email