Many people don’t realize that financial abuse is a thing that exists. It can happen on it’s own as a separate form of abuse or it can be used as a manipulating tool in physical and mental abuse. Just like your standard abuse, financial abuse is a control mechanism. The abuser controls you through finances.
There are different ways an abuser can control you financially. Many of them border on being normal financial situations, which is why it can sometimes be hard to determine if financial abuse is actually happening. The main separation between financial situations being normal and abusive is choice. I know many men and women who give their partner complete control over finances simply because they aren’t good at dealing with money on their own. If you are consciously making that choice, there isn’t a problem. On the other hand, if your partner is denying you access to your own money by forcing you to spend it in ways you object too (aside from your normal bill paying), then you have an issue on your hands.
The hardest form of financial abuse to deal with is when one partner forbids the other from working. That doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with being a stay at home partner, as long as it’s a choice. A1 didn’t like that I worked. I only worked part time and it still bothered him. To him, a woman’s place was at home. We fought about it constantly. I managed to win the argument every time based solely on the fact that we couldn’t afford to live just on his salary. Where financial abuse becomes a huge problem, and where the control aspect really sets in, is when someone tries to leave. When I made my decision to leave A1 he constantly told me I’d fail. I had a part time job, how was I supposed to make enough money to support myself and my daughter. He threatened to get full custody of her if I left since I wouldn’t be able to support her. He told me he would refuse to pay a dime in child support if I left, that I wouldn’t get a penny of his money. I’m not gonna lie, for a while it scared me. It kept me from leaving for almost a year. When I finally snapped and made up my mind that I was leaving, I simply told him I’d make it work. It was actually a lot easier than I expected. I went to work and talked to my boss and by the next schedule I had 35 hours a week. A1 held that over my head too. Who would watch our daughter? I made that work too. I could see his blood boiling. I was winning. He couldn’t make me stay. When I did finally move everything was ok. Yes, I lived paycheck to paycheck, but I was free. Well, as free as I could be in my situation. It took 3 years for us to officially get divorced. In those 3 years he didn’t pay a single dime in child support, just like he promised. He was still trying to get me to “come home.” He also tried to get full custody, like he promised, but I wouldn’t back down. I never backed down.
A2 was the exact opposite type of financial abuser. He was the deadbeat. I worked my ass off for everything that we had, and I rarely got to see a dollar of my own money. Once all the bills were paid he had demands. Movies, comic books, and all sorts of stuff we really didn’t need. I had to buy certain food just for him and if anyone else ate it there would be hell to pay. When I would tell him no I couldn’t get xyz for him, he’d pull the unemployment card. He’d tell me I was holding it over his head that he didn’t work, which was far from the truth. I was just trying to ensure the bills were paid on time, which they rarely were. When I wouldn’t, COULDN’T, give him money he’d run to his mom for money. When she wouldn’t give him any, he’d go as far as asking his friends to buy things for him. Things he didn’t need. When I wasn’t home enough he complained that he never saw me. If I cut my hours he complained that we didn’t have enough money. It was a lose/lose situation for me. I rarely spent money on myself and if I did he’d get pissed off and tell me I lied about not having any money and that I needed to give him money now. It got to the point where if I went to lunch with a friend I had to lie and say she bought my food. I hate lying. I hated constantly feeling guilty. I hated feeling like I was doing something wrong when I wasn’t.
Financial abuse is real. It’s real and it needs to be brought to light.