Financial abuse (also known as economic abuse) is when one person uses money or finances as a means to gain power over and control someone else, or unreasonably impacts their financial autonomy.

Some examples of financial abuse are when someone…

  • Controls access to finances, won’t let you access bank accounts or credit cards
  • Expects you to pay for bills, groceries and other basic necessities but gives you little or no money to cover those costs
  • Forbids you from working or deliberately sabotages your ability to get or hold down a job
  • Refuses to work or contribute to family expenses
  • Takes your pay or your Centrelink benefits
  • Takes out loans or accrues debt in your name
  • Files false insurance claims or Centrelink benefits under your name
  • Doesn’t include you in significant investment or banking decisions
  • Refuses to pay or evades child support
  • Hides assets
  • Incurs fines or infringements in your name then expects you to pay them

Impacts of financial abuse

Having no or limited access to money can make it much harder for someone experiencing abuse to leave a violent relationship. Often limited funds, existing debt and poor credit can make it difficult to obtain rental housing and pay for other expenses like bills, groceries and school fees. The genuine possibility of becoming homeless if they leave an abuser can drive many women to stay in or return to violent relationships.

Those who do leave may still struggle because poor credit scores, debt and sporadic employment histories can make it difficult to regain financial independence and long-term security.

If you are experiencing financial abuse call, safe steps

If you are experiencing financial abuse from someone close to you, you can call safe steps 24/7 on 1800 015 188 for confidential support, information and assistance.