Abuse is an extremely prevalent issue in the United States. Since most of the coverage of domestic and elder abuse is focused on physical and emotional manifestations, financial abuse is often overlooked. This obscurity is compounded by financial abuse being easily disguised as a “cultural difference” or hidden behind the “we don’t discuss finances with strangers” veil. Since money can be such a touchy and private subject, revealing financial abuse can be a tall task. So, how do you know if you are being financially manipulated?
The Small Signs
This is one of the signs that is often dismissed as a sort of “budgeting tool”. Giving the non-working spouse or elder an allowance seems like a somewhat harmless annoyance. In reality, it can be a tool to exert financial control over a victim by restricting their ability to spend. This tool can often lead to the victim being unable to afford basic necessities without permission from their abuser. This is how the abuser can maintain behavioral control over their victim.
Not Allowing You to Earn an Income
If a spouse or caretaker is demanding that you make no money, they may be financially manipulating you. While there are sensible reasons for a spouse to ask that you not work, like wanting someone home to take care of children, the line is crossed when any income made provokes a resistance from your spouse. This means that your time and priorities are the problem, the fact that you have money coming in on your own is.
The Larger Signs
Complete Control Over Spending
When a spouse or caretaker demands that they have control over all cash, cards, and credit resources, you are potentially being financially manipulated. This, like the tool before it, gives the abuser complete dominion over pretty much every aspect of the victim’s life. As a result, the victim is reluctant to report the abuse, and powerless to change it, as they have no access to survive without their abuser. So, make your that you have a tool where you can track your spending and also automatically save from small spares like Digit. This will help you save your own money.
Stealing Your Identity/Money
This is an obvious red flag. If your spouse or caretaker is stealing from you in any way, it needs to be reported. If the goal is to repair the relationship, that can be accomplished after the problem is solved, and both partners are safe. When your identity is stolen, it can do permanent and irreparable damage to your financial future. This cannot be allowed, and must be reported when you are being financially manipulated.
What Can I Do?
If you have been a victim of financial abuse as an elder, you can report it to the National Adult Protective Services Association. They will ensure you have the resources and legal recourse against your abuser.
If you financial abuse is relational, you can reach out to the Domestic Abuse Hotline. There, you will speak to experienced abuse counselors who can map out the next steps for you.
In both cases, it helps to reach out to family and friends that you can trust immediately. Getting yourself out of the situation, and possibly even getting financial assistance, will pave the easiest path to taking back control of your situation. This, in conjunction with reporting it to the relevant authorities, is what you must do if you are a victim of any form of abuse.
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