couple going over finances

If Your Partner Does These 7 Things, it May be Financial Abuse

Commonly known forms of abuse include both physical and mental. However, a lesser-known form of is financial abuse. This kind of abuse has a lesser effect on one’s mental state but puts a huge strain on one’s independence. Fortunately, there are some obvious signs that you, or a loved one, is in a financially abusive relationship.

Financial Abuse Stats

An alarmingly low rate of Americans consider financial abuse a part of domestic violence. A study conducted in 2011 shows that although it occurs in 99% of domestic violence relationships, only 22% consider it a danger or threat. The reason, most likely, is that monetary abuse has no bearing on one’s physical safety, and in many cases little impact on one’s mental well-being or confidence. In contrast, while it isn’t the same impact, financial abuse does affect both, physical safety and mental well-being.

Enjoy a Sense of Independence

It’s incredibly freeing to not rely on others to take care of or support us. Therefore, financial abuse can take away someone’s sense of independence and confidence. People are then put in a position where they feel important resources may not be available. In this case, financial abuse also impacts one’s sense of security, and ease within a shared relationship. Although there are 11, some fit into similar categories and have been combined.

7 Signs of Financial Abuse

1. Work Place Harassment

They harass you at work. In doing so, they limit your ability to bring in funds, and keep you relying on them. “This often causes [people] to lose their jobs or causes major disruption when pursuing an education,” explained Dr. Deborah J. Cohan, PhD.

2. They’re Telling You What to do

They have too much say about your own endeavors. In a relationship, discussing the pros and cons of taking on a new job or returning to school is important. On the other hand, there’s a difference between someone conversing with you and someone flat-out telling you what to do.

3. Don’t Like When You’re Doing The Spending

They get weirdly upset when you spend money. Unfortunately, this sign is a tricky slope so it’s important to be reasonable when assessing the situation. If you tend to overspend, it’s not uncommon for partners to suggest creating a budget or establishing parameters around how much can be spent monthly. However, if your partner flat out prevents you from having any access to shared funds, or your own earnings, this is a clear sign of financial abuse.

4. They Have All the Monetary Control

They have total control over ALL the credit cards, incomes, and bills. Having no access to individual or shared, funds require the victim to rely entirely on their abuser, unable to take care of small emergencies like the car running out of gas. Additionally, with no access to the bills, it’s unlikely that your name is on them. Therefore, you have few options for building your own credit or proving that you are an equal partner in the relationship.

5. Secret Spending

Secret spending, “Keeping you in the dark“, and Economic Exploitation. Relationship expert April Masini explains, “Many times I hear from people looking for my advice, who find secret credit card accounts that their partner has opened and used without their knowledge or consent.” Keeping secrets about large purchases or purchases made with joint funds is not only problematic, but also financial abuse.

6. Giving You an ‘Allowance’

6. Giving an allowance is another form of financial abuse. Keep in mind that this can also be a slippery slope because some couples can agree on a monthly budget. Maybe in attempt to save money for an upcoming vacation or dream wedding. In contrast, being given a monthly allowance then reprimanded, or forced to explain, where the money went, is a vicious cycle of financial abuse that will eventually leave someone feeling totally hopeless and helpless.

7. Taking Advantage

They take advantage of your generosity. While this is also a sign of both emotional and physical abuse, it plays an integral role in financial abuse as well. Typically, generous people have few, if any, boundaries. Alternatively, it’s apparent in most cases when someone gives far more than they’re given. It’s great to be giving and thoughtful, but if you find you’re depleted of resources and never getting any support back, you may be facing financial abuse.

Financial abuse, like all forms, can look like many things and range in severity. However, it’s important to establish a sense of independence before entering a committed partnership, business or personal. This will minimize the likelihood that you or someone you love falls victim to, at the least, an unpleasant situation.

Keep Reading: Real Men Protect Their Partners, They Don’t Abuse Them


  1. Financial abuse: How to recognize it and tips to cope.” Psych Central. Hope Gillette. November 1, 2022.
  2. Financial abuse: Often the first sign of domestic abuse.” Verywell Mind. Sherri Gordon. November 29, 2022. 
  3. 4 warning signs of financial abuse-and how victims can recover.” Forbes. Kelly Anne Smith. Kellly Smith. October 11, 2022.
  4. If your partner does these 11 things, it may be financial abuse.” Bustle. Carolyn Steber and Lexi Inks. April 27, 2022.