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Is Financial Abuse Considered A Crime?

* I generally write using the pronouns he/him when referring to narcissists, but females are just as likely to be narcissists or exhibit narcissistic traits. So please don't think just because article uses the word him or he that it could not be a woman in that same role.

Abusive behavior comes in a variety of different forms, and that is why it is sometimes hard to determine that you are in an abusive relationship at first.

There are some types of abuse that are a lot more obvious to identify, but when it comes to emotional abuse it can be tricky.

Financial abuse is another type of abuse that is difficult to spot.  But Is Financial Abuse Considered A Crime?

Is Financial Abuse Considered A Crime?

If you are the victim of financial abuse, it is common for you to feel incredibly isolated from your friends and family.

In the modern world, money is incredibly important and without it, you cannot survive. This can make the thought of leaving your abuser even scarier.

In this guide, we’ll be taking a look at financial abuse and finding out whether, or not, it is considered a crime.

So if you want to find out more information on this topic, please read on. 

What Is Financial Abuse?

Let’s start by taking a look at what is considered to be financial abuse.

Financial abuse is one of the lesser known types of abuse that victims might experience in a relationship where there is domestic abuse.

While it is one of the most cruel forms of abuse as it can really entrap the victim, it is one that many people still do not fully understand. 

Financial abuse is any abusive behavior that involves controlling the victim’s ability to access money.

This will not only include the prevention of access to existing funds, but also the abuser preventing the victim from working to make any more money.

That is why a lot of the time, victims of financial abuse will be forced to quit their job by their abuser, as an act of control. 

Many people who find themselves the victim of financial abuse will become trapped within the relationship.

Especially if there are children involved.

In order to survive, you need to have money, and it can feel impossible to leave a relationship if you do not have the funds to sustain yourself and your children.

In an act that attempts to assert power and control over the victim, many abusers will gain control of their finances, preventing them from making or accessing money, and trapping the victim in the relationship.

Signs Of Financial Abuse

As we have said, financial abuse is one of the types of abuse that is most misunderstood.

As a result, it is sometimes difficult to spot the signs of this type of abuse.

But with financial abuse, it is very important to catch any signs early on before the abuse goes too far and leaves irreversible consequences. 

Here are some of the signs of financial abuse that you should remain watchful for. 

Job Interference

One of the first signs of financial abuse is your partner interfering in your job or career.

A huge part of financial abuse is preventing the victim from being able to make money, and the easiest way to do this is to target your place of employment. 

Job interference can come in many different forms.

It could start with negative comments about your place of employment, then escalate to pressure put on you to quit your job.

Once you leave your job, pressure could then be put on you to prevent you from getting another. In extreme cases, the abuser could even sabotage the victim’s attempts to get a new job. 

The abuser may constantly say things to put the victim down, and harass them while they are at work through phone calls, text messages, and even turning up at the victim’s place of employment.

Attempts to prevent the victim from getting to work could also be considered job interference. 

Control Over Shared Assets

Is Financial Abuse Considered A Crime?

If you share assets with your partner, for example through a joint account or a mortgage, then both parties will typically be involved in financial decisions.

In financially abusive relationships, the abuser may try to exert more control over shared assets, and take power away from the victim. 

This could include having double standards when it comes to spending money, making large financial decisions without consulting the victim, taking money from shared accounts and hiding it away, and criticizing every financial decision that the victim makes. 

As the abuse becomes worse, the abuser could eventually demand that the victim ask permission before spending money from the shared account, even though they don’t consult with the victim before making these decisions.

They could even revoke access to the shared account as part of this abuse. 

Exploitation Of Resources

Finally, financial abuse may include an exploitation of resources. This typically happens in situations where the victim and the abuser do not have that many shared assets. 

Exploitation of resources can cover a lot of things, and it can be very damaging to the victim’s finances.

This type of abuse may include interfering with the victim’s finances, controlling how the victim spends their money, and feeling entitled to take the victim’s financial resources – including paychecks, passwords and credit cards. 

One of the most damaging exploitation of resources that the abuser might do to the victim is ruin their credit score.

Your credit score is incredibly important for any financial decisions, and it is easy for the abuser to ruin it by racking up debts, failing to pay bills and taking out huge amounts of credit.

This will have a long lasting effect on the victim’s finances, even after they leave the relationship.

Is Financial Abuse Considered A Crime?

Now that we have established exactly what financial abuse is, let’s take a look at whether, or not, it is considered to be a crime. 

From a legal perspective, financial abuse on its own is not considered a crime.

It is not possible to prosecute an individual specifically for financial abuse.

However, economic abuse (which is another name for financial abuse) is included under the umbrella term of coercive behavior.

So, while a victim will not be able to seek charges against the abuser for financial abuse specifically, they will be able to push for charges of coercive control and behavior. 

It is also worth noting that some of the actions completed as part of the financial abuse could also fall under a different type of financial crime.

So, the abuser could be charged with theft, fraud or criminal damage depending on the specific actions that they took against the victim. 

It can be really disheartening to see that it is not possible for an abuser to be prosecuted specifically for financial abuse.

But the laws surrounding coercive control are becoming a lot stricter, not only in the USA but in other countries across the globe too.

Coercive behavior is a huge part of financial abuse, so there is a good chance that the abuser could be charged with this, even though they cannot be charged with financial abuse.


In short, financial abuse itself isn’t considered to be a crime.

However, a lot of the behavior included in financial abuse will be considered coercive behavior, so it is possible for abusers to be charged with this.

Often, financial abuse will be linked to other financial crimes too, so it is possible for the abuser to be charged with these crimes.

Thank you for reading!

Emergency Numbers

Rape Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN) is the nation’s largest organization fighting sexual violence: (800) 656-HOPE / (800) 810-7440 (TTY)

988 Mental Health Emergency Hotline: Calling 988 will connect you to a crisis counselor regardless of where you are in the United States.

911 Emergency

The National Runaway Safeline: 800-RUNAWAY (800-786-2929)

Self Abuse Finally Ends (S.A.F.E)

American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, Trauma & Child Abuse Resource Center

Domestic Violence Shelters & Resources

Futures Without Violence

National Center for Victims of Crime

National Coalition Against Domestic Violence

National Network to End Domestic Violence

National Sexual Violence Resource Center

Prevent Child Abuse America

Stalking Prevention, Awareness, and Resource Center (SPARC)

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) HelpLine: 1-800-950-NAMI, or text “HELPLINE” to 62640. Both services are available between 10 a.m. and 10 p.m. ET, Monday–Friday

National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255); www.suicidepreventionlifeline.orgOr, just dial 988

Suicide Prevention, Awareness, and Support: www.suicide.org

Crisis Text Line: Text REASON to 741741 (free, confidential and 24/7). In English and Spanish

Self-Harm Hotline: 1-800-DONT CUT (1-800-366-8288)

Family Violence Helpline: 1-800-996-6228

American Association of Poison Control Centers: 1-800-222-1222

National Council on Alcoholism & Drug Dependency: 1-800-622-2255

LGBTQ Hotline: 1-888-843-4564

National Maternal Mental Health Hotline: 1-833-TLC-MAMA (1-833-852-6262)

The Trevor Project: 1-866-488-7386 or text “START” to 678678. Standard text messaging rates apply. Available 24/7/365. (Provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer & questioning—LGBTQ—young people under 25.)

The SAGE LGBT Elder Hotline connects LGBT older people and caretakers with friendly responders. 1-877-360-LGBT (5428)

The Trans Lifeline is staffed by transgender people for transgender people:
1-877-565-8860 (United States)
1-877-330-6366 (Canada)

Veterans Crisis Line: https://www.veteranscrisisline.net

International Suicide Prevention Directory: findahelpline.com

The StrongHearts Native Helpline is a confidential and anonymous culturally appropriate domestic violence and dating violence helpline for Native Americans, available every day from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. CT. Call 1-844-762-8483.

‘Find a Therapist’ Online Directories


UK & Republic of Ireland

  • Emergency: 112 or 999
  • Hotline: +44 (0) 8457 90 90 90 (UK – local rate)
  • Hotline: +44 (0) 8457 90 91 92 (UK minicom)
  • Hotline: 1850 60 90 90 (ROI – local rate)
  • Hotline: 1850 60 90 91 (ROI minicom)
  • YourLifeCounts.org: https://yourlifecounts.org/find-help/

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