Financial abuse is often overlooked or not even recognized as a form of abuse. The Resource and Crisis Center was chosen this FY 2016 to receive the BOOTS grant to assist victims of financial abuse.  We offer financial educational classes from the Moving Ahead Through Financial Management curriculum, one on one case management on finances, budgeting, connections with financial resources, savings opportunities through match savings and education support programs for clients who qualify.

The curriculum offers a range of information: module one is Understanding Financial Abuse, module two is Learning Financial Fundamentals, module three is Mastering Credit Basics, module four is Building Financial Foundations, and module five is Creating Budgeting Strategies.

Financial Abuse

Below is excerpt from module one of Moving Ahead Through Financial Management

“What is Financial Abuse?

Financial abuse often begins subtly and progresses over time.  The aim of financial abuse, as with other forms of abuse, is to gain power and control in a relationship.  Financial abuse along with emotional and physical abuse, manipulation, intimidation and threats are all aimed at getting and maintaining control over another person.  The purpose is to trap them in the relationship.

Financial abuse is a tactic used to control relationships by preventing access, use or maintenance of money or other financial resources.  It might include:

  • Controlling all decisions of how money is spent

  • Withholding  money or “giving an allowance”

  • Withholding basic living resources, medication or food

  • Not allowing their partner to work or earn money

  • Stealing their partner’s identity, money, credit or property

  • May justify behavior as cultural or religious

It can be difficult for couples to navigate the complexities of family finances and almost all couples have arguments about money.  However, in financially healthy relationships, couples successfully negotiate their wants and needs in the following ways:

  • Both partners have access to financial statements and information although one partner might manage the day-to-day finances and bill paying

  • Identify when they have different values about money and negotiate joint financial goals;

  • Set plans to meet joint goals and stick to them

  • Recognize and respect that decision-making is equal regardless of who earns more income for the family

  • Each partner has access to money on their own without having to ask for permission or hide their spending

  • Financial decisions are made jointly between partners

  • Both partners have access to money and knowledge about where and how money is spent, and neither partner is deceitful

These are the elements that appear in happy, productive and loving relationships.  There are many healthy relationships in which couples do not “agree on all financial matters” however they may have agreed on other ways to handle the matter in a healthy non-controlling manner.  Ex: "I don’t agree that my husband spends $80 a month on a gym membership, however if he budgets and works overtime to accommodate this expense, then we have decided this is an acceptable expense."  A healthy partnership does not include financial abuse, alternatively it does include open dialogue, communication, and agreement on financial matters.

It is important to know that financial abuse can happen to anyone regardless of their income, education or independent success.  Despite great diversity, survivors face similar struggles, as they try to care for their families, secure work, find affordable housing, and create long-term assets. 

 

To help you determine whether you are in a financially abusive relationship, ask yourself these questions: 

Does your partner:

  • Steal money from you or your family and/or force you to give access to your money or financial accounts

  • Make you feel as though you don’t have a right to know any details about money or household decisions

  • Make financial or investment decisions that affect you or your family without consulting or reaching agreement with you

  • Refuse to include you in important meetings with banks, financial planners, or retirement specialist

  • Forbid you from working or attending school or training sessions

  • Overuse your credit cards and refuse to pay the bills

  • Force you to file fraudulent tax claims

  • Prevent you from obtaining or using credit cards or bankcards

  • Withhold physical resources including food, clothes, necessary medications or shelter from you

  • Force you to work in a family business for little or no pay or refuse to work to help support the family

  • Interfere with your performance at work through harassing activities like frequent telephone calls, emails, or visits to your workplace

  • Force you to turn over your benefits payments or threaten to report you for “cheating” on your benefits so your benefits will be cut off, even if you aren’t cheating

  • Force you to cash in, sell or sign over any financial assets or inheritance you own (e.g. bonds, stock, or property)

  • Force you to agree to power of attorney in order to be able to legally sign documents without your knowledge or consent

If you find yourself answering yes to one or more of these questions, you may be in a financially abusive relationship.  Recognizing this may be very difficult, but there is help available. You are not alone

 

The Resource and Crisis Center has partnered with Allstate to provide financial education modules and strategies that can help you better understand this type of abuse and empower you to regain control over your finances. Please contact the Resource and Crisis Center hotline 1-888-919-7233 for further assistance and safety planning.  

Moving Ahead Through Financial Management 

Copyright June 2011

The Allstate Foundation

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