Money Matters: When money becomes a weapon
It’s pretty typical: when couples combine their households, they divide up household duties and chores. But dividing financial responsibilities early can be unhealthy for couples later.
Segregating financial responsibility can, in extreme cases, be an indicator of bigger problems in a relationship.
If one partner is using control of the couple’s money to control or exploit the other, this economic abuse is one form of domestic abuse.
The adage goes that couples fight most about money, but few people realize that money is a common tool of abusers, occurring in nearly 100 percent of domestic violence cases, according to research by the Center for Financial Security.
Money can be used by abusers to control, exploit or sabotage their partners.
By retaining exclusive control of joint accounts, denying a partner access to debit or credit cards or otherwise restricting information or access, victims are forced to rely on the abuser.
Abusers can also exploit their partners, running up debt on joint accounts, or stealing the victim’s identity to access their assets or credit.
Abusers can also sabotage their partners’ ability to gain financial independence, using intimidation or harassment to prevent partners from working.
According the National Network to End Domestic Violence, lack of financial independence and financial literacy are often significant barriers to leaving an abusive situation.
Without access to financial resources, or the means to become financially independent, those in abusive relationships face an uphill battle in leaving abusive partners.
Economic abuse is one aspect of financial literacy that shouldn’t be overlooked by consumer reporters seeking to help their audiences learn to be financially secure.
How can you spot the signs of economic abuse in your own relationship or friends’?
What resources are available in your coverage area for those in abusive situations to find financial resources?
It’s worth a look if sharing what you find helps even one person escape an abusive relationship.
Weekly Money Matters personal finance content for your newsroom is sponsored by the National Endowment for Financial Education.