Economic Abuse: Signs and Prevention

Table with empty wallet and a stick note with words financial abuse.

What is Economic Abuse?

When people think about domestic abuse, most people think about verbal, physical, or sexual abuse. Few people think about economic or financial abuse. Economic abuse is one of the most common forms of abuse, occurring in 99% of domestic violence situations.

Economic abuse occurs when one partner controls another’s ability to be financially independent. The lack of financial control or resources often prevents survivors from leaving.

Signs of economic abuse

Economic abuse can look very different depending upon the situation. Some abusers might use aggression or intimidation to gain power over their partner’s finances while others might be subtle and sneaky about it. Here are some of the most common tactics used by abusers.

  • Seeming unusually interested in your finances
  • Borrowing money or credit cards without asking or repaying
  • Offering to take over your finances without having been asked
  • Opening your bank statements or other financial records without permission
  • Controlling how you use or access your own money
  • Discouraging you from working or sabotaging your ability to do so
  • Ruining your credit
  • Demanding access to your paycheck, bank account, or credit cards
  • Feeling entitled to your money or other assets
  • Stealing from you
  • Telling you where and when you can and cannot work

How to prevent economic abuse

Economic abuse is one of the many ways abusers attempt to control their partners. There are steps you can take to protect yourself from economic abuse.

  • Review your bank statements frequently. Contact your bank if you see anything unusual.
  • Put a password or pin on your phone and computer. You have the right to keep your texts, emails, search history, and personal information private.
  • Open your own mail. Contact your bank if you don’t receive your statements or other financial information.
  • Keep your cash, credit cards, checks, bank cards, and all forms of payment in a safe, secure spot. If you notice anything missing, notify your bank.
  • Keep your banking PIN private.
  • MOST IMPORTANT: take it slow. Keep your financial information private until your partner has proven themselves trustworthy.