Financial bullying is often the forerunner of more serious controlling issues.

This behaviour usually starts fairly innocently, an opened bank statement, a peek at an invoice or questioned expenditure. From small beginnings, it grows and it can leave you feeling anxious every time you reach for your credit card.

This type of controlling behaviour is more frequent among men but some women also indulge in financial bullying.

The controlling behaviour known as financial abuse can range from your partner making loans in your name to spending your hard-earned cash or questioning your every financial decision.

A typical study of financial abuse

Lynne a wife and mother from Perth became a victim of financial abuse. Her ex-husband would check every cent that she spent. He would even check to see where she had made her purchases to ensure that she was using the retail outlets that he had approved.

He made all the decisions on the big-ticket items such as furniture and motor vehicles. He made sure that every one of her family and friends knew that he was the man making the decisions. For Lynne this was humiliating.

Before long, her husband started to draw large sums of money from their joint bank account, gambling and buying unnecessary luxury items. He eventually declared bankruptcy. Through no fault of her own, Lynne was saddled with debt and owed a considerable amount on her home loan.

Lynne divorced her controlling husband but has had to move in with friends as her credit score is so poor that she is unable to purchase or rent a home of her own.

Recognising financial abuse

A UK Woman’s Aid Report called Unequal, Trapped and Controlled recently warned that financial abuse is often a precursor to other controlling behaviour such as domestic abuse.

They reported that the following behaviour could signal financial abuse. Your partner

  • Makes financial decisions without consulting you
  • Controls access to finances
  • Uses your cards without consent
  • Makes little or no contribution to household expenses
  • Opens up accounts on your behalf and then makes no payments
  • Withdraws funds from your bank account without your agreement or takes money from your wallet
  • Takes your salary or other financial benefits
  • Prevents you from going out to work
  • Forces you to do unpaid work.

Opening a joint bank account can leave you vulnerable to financial abuse, as there is not much that the bank can do if your partner starts to withdraw funds. It is safer to have a joint account for paying accounts and individual accounts for your salaries.

Talk about money and build up trust

As with every other aspect of the relationship, talking about money is important. Don’t fight about it. Discuss it, and you will build a stronger and closer relationship where each partner trusts the other.

Financial abusive relationship - recognising signs

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