Financial abuse causes much distress and dependency

Linda’s story contains some elements of financial abuse, which is the misappropriation of victims’ resources, or denying them sufficient money through various means. This abuse is found in all social groups. It is perpetrated in personal and professional relationships and on vulnerable people, when power, control, and dominance are exercised through money. It involves isolating victims in order to control and exploit their finances. By isolating them from their families and friends, abusers can do this without interference, and use their property, finances or assets exclusively for their own benefit, or for improper purposes. Even when someone has legitimate access to another’s assets, financial abuse can occur through misuse of finances or failing to meet the victim’s material needs. Withholding finances for the bare necessities of life is seriously abusive. Financial abuse occurs in the workplace, when an employee is wrongly denied a promotion, sacked without good reason, or overworked without remuneration.
In intimate relationships, financial abusers use many controlling tactics to create a hellish life for their victims. They create dependency by forbidding their victims to work. Homemakers, usually women, are particularly vulnerable to financial abuse. I met one victim whose husband wordlessly left the housekeeping money on the mantelpiece each week. She was not allowed to have a banking card. She had to account for every penny. Some abusers resort to weighing the fruit their wives purchase to control their expenditure. Victims are denigrated, and told that they have no right to the family income. They are forced to ask, even beg, for money to run the house. Even then, they may be denied sufficient funds. Victims do not receive any recognition of their value as homemakers. Imagine what it would cost to bring in a person to run a house full time for seven days a week. Just consider what it costs working couples for childminding facilities for five days.
If both partners work, the abuser may demand a partner’s pay cheque at the end of the week and deny him/her responsibility in financial decisions. Financial abusers may also put all of the family bills in the victim’s name, but conceal banking records, bills, or credit records. Some abusers confiscate social welfare grants and children’s allowance for themselves, and others force their partners to work and carry all the financial responsibility of the house, but then mishandle and squander the money. This is exactly what happened to Linda, who valiantly struggled to survive a mountain of unpaid debts, and cope with the cruel disregard and disrespect of her husband, who fled from his obligations.
Adapted from Jim O’Shea’s book Abuse. Domestic Violence, Workplace and School Bullying published by Cork University Press

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