A recent survey of 2,000 millennials found that 69% reported being financially abused by their partner to gain control or manipulate them in their relationship. Nearly a third of those said they were also abused by their partner, either physically or through infidelity.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says one in four women will be the target of domestic violence in their lifetime, usually before age 25, and nearly all of those victims will also experience financial abuse.
What are the signs?
Financial disputes are one of the main reasons why couples file for divorce. This type of abuse can take many forms, but here are some of the most common:
- Your partner hides money from you
- He or she opens credit cards in your name without your knowledge
- They default on credit accounts in your name, destroying your credit
- They force you to borrow money from relatives or take out loans but don’t pay them back
- They sabotage your career or refuse to let you work
Look for patterns of financial abuse
Experts say, like many forms of abuse, financial mistreatment doesn’t usually occur just once but is part of a pattern of behavior. The nonprofit One Love Foundation says abusers usually start out adoring their victims but then work to isolate them from their support network, which can be followed by emotional abuse, including manipulation, controlling behavior, sabotage and name-calling.
The group says the abuser’s reaction when confronted is usually very telling. Do they get angry or try to shift the blame to you? Do they make you feel guilty for questioning them? Or do they make heartfelt apologies and take steps to correct their behavior?
Be prepared before confronting your abuser
If you have experienced financial abuse by your spouse or partner, get educated before you share your suspicions. Find out where your accounts are and how you can access them as abusers have emptied accounts after being confronted. An experienced family law attorney here in Kentucky can protect your rights and help you take steps to hold your abuser accountable for their actions and represent you in court if necessary.