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Is financial abuse a form of emotional abuse?
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“Financial abuse is a form of family violence, and can be present with other forms of abuse, like physical or emotional abuse, but can also be present without these other behaviours.”


Hidden Abuse

This type of abuse can take many forms, it can be a hidden abuse. The person being targeted may not even realise that the behaviour of the spouse/family member is a form of control. For example, when a person uses emotional put-downs and devaluation to stop you from pursuing your own financial independence or any way to earn your own money.

It can leave you feeling vulnerable, isolated, depressed and anxious.

This type of abuse commonly occurs in romantic relationships.


Here are some of the ways that financial abuse can occur. 

  • Taking control of someone else’s finances (e.g. being in charge of all the household income and paying the other person an allowance).
  • Controlling how all of the household income is spent.
  • Making a family member go guarantor on a loan or take a loan out in their name.
  • Stopping a family member from going to work
  • Stopping a family member from studying.
  • Denying a family member access to money so they can’t afford basic expenses like food or medicine.
  • Gambling away a family member’s money or shared money.

Being Trapped, Unable to Leave

There is an added complication to leaving an abusive relationship when the target of this abuse is solely dependent on their spouse or partner. It also means that survivors who do leave abusive relationships can end up living in unsafe, insecure housing, or even experiencing homelessness.

In an example of narcissistic behaviour, money can be used as a tool to either reward or punish their victims. They can appear to be very generous with gifts and money, as long as you show your gratitude and it serves their needs. On the other hand, a narcissist can use money as a stick to beat you as a form of punishment and revenge. This is when they either withhold money or devalue or degrade you after they have already given you a gift or money in the form of an allowance which keeps you dependent on them.

Emotional Abuse

Emotional abuse is in the form of how they treat you in the relationship. This can feel unsafe, degrading and confusing. For example, in one case where a woman was being paid an allowance, while her partner had openly declared he was cheating on her. The woman tried to understand why her partner was behaving the way he was. She had also become trapped in the relationship as she no longer had any form of independent income.

Her partner used the fact that he was now supporting her financially to verbally degrade her.  It went like this, he had been drinking a lot as usual and in a conversation, he got angry with her over something she had said. He then shouted at her “I’m throwing nearly £700 a month at you” this is how a narcissist uses money as a punishment. The woman recalls that he had told her that he was going to pay that money, just a week after he had confessed to cheating. Leaving her in a state of emotional distress and shock, because at that time she was starting a new business venture and was seeking a way to start earning money for herself.

Post-Separation Abuse/Conflict

Another example is when a narcissist makes promises, for example in divorce or separation there may be continued conflict. As the narcissist will move the goalposts just as the negotiations are coming together and documents are ready to be drawn up and signed. They will change their minds and try to alter the settlement. It means dealing with a narcissist in separation and divorce is very difficult. Legal representatives and mediators will tell you just how difficult it can be when an amount of money has been agreed upon. The narcissist asks for a deduction for something they had forgotten. One mediator I spoke to said he was getting annoyed at how they kept asking to change the amount by adding in a utility bill. He eventually said they will be asking to add in every postage stamp as a cost next. That is moving the goalposts.

It is just another form of their power and control used to manipulate and beat you down. Narcissists seek power over others to feel better about themselves, and money is a tool they use to manipulate and control.

Be Prepared, Be Aware

If you find yourself in this form of emotional and financially abusive relationship be prepared to set some funds aside for basic expenses. You need to be aware of having some form of safety net. Knowing about this type of domestic violence can help to come up with a strategy for exiting the situation instead if having the rug pulled from beneath your feet after five ten or even twenty years.

I can tell you from experience that it is a very debilitating situation when you realise that the relationship you were in was fake from the start. That the person you thought was a loving and caring partner was nothing but a coward a bully and an emotionally immature guy. A person that can walk away from a relationship and leave the other person high and dry has no morals and is lacking in empathy. Even worse, the perpetrator can seek to punish you by leaving you financially devastated, and then blame you for the situation that they left you in.

Post Separation Abuse paperback book on glass table

“Post Separation Abuse, Betrayal & Abandonment, What Type Of Man?”
by Loren Keeling

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