With spousal abuse, you likely think of physical striking, intimidation and spouses who blame their bruises on clumsiness. Spousal abuse has another layer: financial abuse.

Married couples in California can learn more about whether they are victims of this rarely talked about form of abuse from the National Network to End Domestic Violence. Knowing the many forms that abuse takes is vital for your peace of mind.

The definition of financial abuse

At its core, financial abuse is about controlling and/or limiting a person’s access to funds, be they personal funds or marital funds. Just like physical and verbal abuse, financial abuse has roots in power and control. Taking it one step further, victims of financial abuse often feel like they do not have the financial means to leave the harmful relationship or gain financial peace of mind after escaping the relationship.

What financial abuse looks like

So, what forms do financial abuse take? Your abusive spouse may harass you at work, leading to your termination or compromised advancement opportunities, or control how you spend money. Purposefully running up debt on joint accounts is another form of financial abuse, as is giving you an “allowance” of your earned money. This form of abuse can be either overt or covert.

What the fallout of financial abuse looks like

Financial abuse leads to financial insecurity. Victims have difficulty finding alternate housing away from the abusive spouse without proper access to finances. Even if a person successfully escapes an abusive relationship, she or he may have to come back due to fears of homelessness.

This information is only intended to educate and should not be interpreted as legal advice.