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  • Writer's pictureMarion Mays

The ‘Invisible Weapon’

Domestic abuse is a multi-faceted issue. Whilst society is largely aware of the matters of physical and emotional abuse, what often falls between the cracks is the financial situation of abusive relationships.

This is the silence of financial abuse, dubbed the ‘invisible weapon’. It remains a grey area of domestic abuse because it is largely undiscussed, thus often fails to be identified within relationships, perhaps even by the victim. Yet according to the National Network to End Domestic Violence, financial abuse is a common thread through 98% of abusive relationships.

What is financial abuse?

A financially abusive relationship will often see the woman devoid of any control over wealth, and have facets of her life pertaining to money heavily sanctioned by her partner. These women are given no option but to work with the often scarce allowance they are permitted and to follow instructions on what to do with this money. It’s not uncommon for the victim to be barred from working entirely by their partner, or receive restricted access to any money they may earn.

It’s hard to believe that this form of domestic abuse exists in 2018, however it’s a grave reality for many. The fact is that financial abuse is pursued, like any other form of abuse, with the intent of control and dominance. And it is difficult to escape.

The 3 major warning signs of financial abuse

So, what are the key symptoms of a financially abusive relationship?

1. Loss of control over or access to finances

In a financially abusive relationship, the woman will often be barred from making financial decisions and accessing finances independently or for her own purposes. They may be provided a small allowance for necessities, however lack any form of control over the financial decision making and purchase decisions.

2. Denied rights to employment

Women who are told they cannot work by their partner, or are only permitted to work in a restricted sense, are victims of financial abuse who may fly under the radar. This prevents the woman from gaining financial independence or any say in financial dealings within the relationship, thus securing her partner’s dominance.

3. Forced to use name for credit and loans

The woman may be told to place credit cards, personal loans, bills and debts in her name, often damaging her credit score and creating financial dependence on her partner that ensures she cannot leave the relationship.

Effects of financial abuse

The effects of financial abuse can be devastating. Victims of financial abuse feel physically and mentally trapped within their abusive relationship, as they have little means of supporting themselves or their children outside of it with no wealth acquirement of their own.

It is a cruel reality that controlling a woman’s money will inevitably control her choices. Financial abuse is a key tactic of disempowerment, emphasising the importance of financial literacy and independence for every individual.


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