Financial abuse: what to do if you are a victim?

The term abuse is often used to describe physical, verbal or domestic assaults. However, despite being little heard, financial abuse is very common in victims who are in unhealthy relationships or in vulnerable people such as the elderly.

A study conducted by The Center for Financial Security revealed that people with abusive partners often face threats to financial well-being and their ability to find personal financial stability. What can you do if you are a victim? Find out!

What is financial abuse?

Financial abuse consists of control the victim's ability to maintain, use and acquire capital, finances or assets. One of the characteristics of the abuser is that he tends to restrict or steal the victim's own money, which prevents the victim from having full access to money or other resources.

Although the methods of carrying out this form of abuse may be different in each situation, there are cases where the abuser uses manipulation to get money. It can even be open, intimidating and demanding, to the point of preventing you from working.

Also read: Are you suffering abuse or mistreatment?

Financial abuse in the elderly

Using the vulnerability of an older adult, a study shared in National Center for Biotechnology Information revealed that, frequently, financial abuse is done by a family member, neighbor, trusted friend, or caregiver.

In short, it is someone close to the victim who finds it easy to deceive him. Now, to detect if an older adult is being violated in this way, the following must be considered.

Suffers from blackouts

In general, elderly people tend not to remember relevant matters, so they special care must be taken when they state that they do not remember the withdrawal of a certain amount of money from the bank.

Although dementia may be becoming a problem, the possibility that someone is taking advantage of your situation is high. So you have to make sure that someone has not made an unauthorized transaction.

Decreased motor skills

Older adults not only suffer from dementia – a disease that makes them vulnerable – but their strength and mobility are reduced. This creates the need to ask for help from a person close to them, which increases the chances that predators take advantage of their situation.

Dishonest relatives

Close relatives are the most tempted to take advantage of the older adult's financial resources at home. Being closer to their bank accounts, passwords and financial statements, they are easier to steal, and even manipulate, to transfer property or transfer large sums of money.

One way to know if this is happening is to observe the behavior of the relative, and if he acquires or buys things more easily than he was used to.


Being isolated, without any mourner, neighbor or close friend, unscrupulous people study the older person and try to create a bond of friendship and then get their money or property. Keep an eye on new friends to avoid abuse.

Financial abuse in the partner

When in a relationship one of the members imposes itself on the other and obliges the latter to grant it the management of its economic resources, either by manipulation or obligation, we are facing financial abuse. Some characteristics that involve financial abuse in couples are the following:

  • Full control of all bank accounts and other financial resources.
  • Handling.
  • Imposition.
  • Coercion of the partner to look for work or a source of money.
  • Psychological, physical or verbal aggression.
  • Accountability, only by the victim, of every penny that is spent.

How do I know if I am a victim?

You may be being a victim of financial abuse right now, but you haven't realized it. To find out, evaluate these situations and check if they occur within your partner, with one of your relatives or close people.

  • It does not allow you to enter bank statements.
  • Has an account that only he or she can access.
  • Have total control of your expenses or manage the allowance that it gives you. It may even require bills from you.
  • It prohibits you from working, tries to make you resign or is the one who says what job you should take and what not, without taking your opinion into account.
  • You can buy and spend your money without considering your needs.
  • He disposes of the savings together without your consent.
  • You do not want to generate income.
  • Shows little interest in covering part of the shared expenses, such as clothes, medicines, food, among other things.
  • It resorts to manipulations and tends to blame you for financial problems.
  • He likes to attack frequently, either physically or psychologically.
  • Believe you have the full right to your money and assets.
  • It forces you to sign financial documents without a reasonable explanation.
  • He threatens to cut your income if you don't agree with his options.
  • Refuses to contribute to child support.
  • He harasses you at work, calls you, writes you with an exaggerated frequency, or passes by the place in a surprising and suspicious way.
  • Destroy your credit history, consuming your cards to the limit.
  • You don't pay the bills.

What can I do if I am a victim of financial abuse?

Financial abuse is a situation that does not diminish over time, so waiting for it to solve itself in the future is not recommended. Try to seek support and contact the government entity in your country in charge.

Finding an ally, a counselor or visiting a psychologist is the best way to cope with the problem in which you are immersed. It is possible that your country has a telephone line where these types of cases are attended; try to call as soon as possible. Having the assistance of trained advocates will be convenient for you.

Discover: Emotional abuse: short-term and long-term effects

What to remember about financial abuse?

The term may be uncommon, however, In unhealthy couples, it is common for one of the parties to be the victim of financial abuse. The abuser has full control of the assets. To achieve his goal he uses manipulation or aggression.

Although each situation may vary, they all have an end goal, such as stealing or taking part or all of the victim's income and assets. Older adults could be the most vulnerable, as they take advantage of their blackouts, motor deficiencies or loneliness.

If you consider that you are a victim of financial abuse, or if someone is elderly, Report to the competent authorities and seek advice. Prolonging this situation will only get worse over time.