When it comes to domestic and family violence verbal and physical abuse usually come to mind. However, a further widespread form of domestic and family abuse is ‘financial or economic abuse’.
What is Financial Abuse?
Financial abuse occurs when one party uses money to control, coerce or to restrict the other person in a domestic relationship. This type of abuse frequently occurs hand-in-hand with other forms of abuse, such as physical or emotional abuse.
Am I Being Financially Abused?
It can be difficult to recognise financial abuse. Perpetrators may often ‘excuse’ their behaviour as a consequence of the victim’s financial illiteracy or being due to “traditional roles” in the family. A pattern of behaviour is usually exhibited and unfortunately, the abuse may escalate over time.
Financially abusive behaviour can include but is not limited to:
- taking control of someone else’s finances (e.g. being in charge of all the household income and paying the other person an allowance);
- controlling how all of the household income is spent;
- forcing a family member to claim social security benefits like Centrelink;
- insisting that a family member apply for a second credit card;
- preventing a family member from working;
- preventing a family member from studying;
- refusing to give access to bank accounts;
- denying a family member access to money so they cannot afford basic expenses such as food or medicine.
The Effects of Financial Abuse
The effect of financial abuse can be far-reaching and usually includes suffering from emotional trauma and homelessness.
Financial abuse affects the victim’s financial independence preventing them from accessing education, healthcare and in some cases basic personal items which can leave them with no alternative but to remain in the abusive relationship.
In many cases, financial abuse continues post-separation. This includes perpetrators engaging in prolonged litigation, hiding assets or defaulting on financial responsibility such as a mortgage leaving the victim with poor credit score, thus exacerbating their financial stress and vulnerability.
What Support is Available for Financial Abuse?
Any form of abuse is unacceptable. We all have a right to live life without fear of abuse or violence. Support services are available on both state and federal levels and can assist you if you are experiencing domestic or family violence, including financial abuse.
Some support services which are available include:
- Financial Abuse Legal Service (Redfern Legal Centre)
- NSW Domestic Violence Helpline;
- Women’s Legal Services NSW;
- Domestic Violence NSW;
- Legal Aid;
- National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services.
Do You Need Legal Help?
Dorter Family Lawyers and Mediators offer specialist family law advice in Milsons Point on Sydney’s Lower North Shore, and are available to assist you with any questions you may have about financial abuse.
Please get in touch with us on (02) 9929 8840 or firstname.lastname@example.org
This post is an overview only and should not be considered as legal advice. If there are any matters that you would like us to advise you on, then please contact us.