Domestic Violence Questions: What Is Economic Abuse?

Domestic violence doesn't just manifest itself as physical or psychological abuse. Some people use financial control to create a situation of economic abuse.

What is economic abuse and what can you do about it?

What Is Economic Abuse?

Economic abuse can take various forms. Generally, this term applies to a relationship if one partner uses money or finance to control the other.

In some cases, this is all about one person using money to limit the other person's independence. For example, in a marriage where one spouse works and another is a stay-at-home parent, the earning spouse may refuse to give their partner any access to their bank accounts or finances even if they are in joint names.

They may dole out cash in limited amounts but expect a record of what the money is spent on. The non-earning spouse struggles to have enough money for day-to-day costs and has no income of their own.

Sometimes, this also involves leaving someone with no money at all. This put them under the complete control of their partner.

Economic abuse can limit a person's ability to be financially independent in other ways. A spouse may use coercion techniques to prevent their partner from getting a job where they could earn their own money.

Or, one partner might force the other to do something they don't want to do. For example, a spouse may force their partner to sign over control of their money or other financial assets; they may make them sign up for loans that they don't want.

What Can You Do About Economic Abuse?

Economic abuse leaves people in extremely difficult positions, especially if they have no access to money. It is a way of controlling someone and keeping them close — apart from anything else, they don't have the financial resources to leave.

This can be difficult to prove and manage. Some states might accept economic abuse as a form of domestic abuse more easily than others. You might be able to use this as a reason for getting a domestic violence order. Or, you may be able to apply to get access to maintenance payments or your own income through the courts.

If you think you are a victim of economic abuse, then your best option is to contact a domestic violence lawyer. They can meet with you confidentially and help you find the best solution for your situation.