January 2019 | Ariza Arif
The Family Law Act recognises financial abuse as a form of domestic and family violence. It is defined as:
“unreasonably withholding financial support needed to meet the reasonable living expenses of the family member, or his or her child/ren, at a time when the family member is entirely or predominantly dependent on the person for financial support”.
Financial/economic abuse, similar to emotional and psychological abuse, can be difficult to recognise and it can affect anyone.
The general hallmarks of financial abuse are as follows:
- Restricting your access to money
- Bank accounts are primarily controlled by the other party;
- You have an allowance that only meets basic living standards;
- You are financially dependent on the other party and do not have access to money;
- Being made to feel that you are incapable of handling money, so the other party has to be in control of the finances;
- Information of your joint finances are being withheld from you;
- Being pressured and/or forced to sign financial or loan documents before you’ve had a chance to read them for yourself. Abusers will commonly say “trust me, you don’t have to read it, just sign” or “if you love me, you will sign”.
- Tracking your spending
- The other party requests receipts to see all of your spending;
- Having to constantly ask for permission to spend money;
- If you overspend, you feel there will be negative consequences;
- Restriction on work options for you
- Not being allowed to apply for a job and if you do mention it to the other party, it’s met with “don’t worry, I earn enough for the both of us”
- If the other party does want you to work, typically it is not in the career you would choose for yourself;
- The other party consistently prevents you from applying for job opportunities;
- The other party refuses to work
- The other party refuses to work, yet incurs excessive debt in joint names, which ties you to them;
- For example; the other party might ask you to get a personal loan in your name or credit cards solely in your name.
The underlying primary objective of financial abuse is control.