Shame and Secrecy: Are you in financial abusive relationship | KAYA FM

Shame and Secrecy: Are you in financial abusive relationship


By Motlagae Konyana

Abuse rears its ugly head in many ways, and it is something that seems to be becoming worse on many levels. Domestic violence, verbal, psychological and emotional abuse can often be a part of relationships. Financial abuse occurs just as frequently and is something very few people consider within the context of relationships.

What is financial abuse?


Financial abuse can occur in many ways. In some scenarios, an abuser control your finances and resources in a way that keeps you totally dependent on them. In other scenarios, an abuser will create financial expectations of you that are almost impossible to achieve in exchange for them loving you. Both scenarios are unhealthy and can have devastating long-term effects.


Victims of financial abuse often face threats to their well-being, mental and emotional health and can find these patterns difficult to break. Physical, psychological, and economic tactics are used to isolate and control them. Those who are victimized financially may be prevented from working. They also may have their own money restricted or stolen by the abuser to keep the control over them.


Financial abuse often leaves victims vulnerable to domestic violence.  Without access to money, credit cards and other financial means it is extremely difficult to do any type of safety planning. Thus women tend to be locked in toxic relationships because of their financial dependency on their partner.


What are the signs of a financially abusive partner?


  • Your partner forbids you from working, or ensures that you can’t keep a job and harasses you at work
  • Your partner denies you money to buy essentials or expects you to ask money from him for essentials
  • When your partner controls how you spend money and has control over your bank accounts
  • When your partner forces you to make illegal transactions or uses your name to acquire debt without your consent.
  • They give you an allowance and dictate how to use it

Source: IWPR compilation of data from the Maine Department of Labor and Family Crisis Services, 2005


What can you do when you are being financially abused

  • Seek professional help from a psychologist and counselors
  • Educate yourself on the basics of money management, including how to draw up and stick to a budget
  • Know your financial status, don’t allow your partner to make financial decisions for you.
  • Leave the relationship, plan your exit slowly
  • If vocational training or education is a barrier to getting a job then start going to school online.


When you are armed with financial knowledge and understanding, you are more likely to make the kind of decisions that will give you options for an independent future for you and your children. Financial education can play a pivotal role in empowering victims of domestic abuse to stand up for themselves and march out of the toxic relationship.