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What Is Classified As Financial Abuse?

* 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.

If you do not know what the definition of financial abuse is, it describes a type of coercive control, this is when there is a specific pattern of behavior that is controlling, degrading, and threatening and is designed to restrict the freedom of the victim, whether intentionally or not. So, What Is Classified As Financial Abuse?

What Is Classified As Financial Abuse?

When looking at financial abuse, we have to understand that acts of financial abuse do not usually happen in isolation, and these acts of financial abuse usually happen with other abusive behavior that is used to reinforce the financial abuse.

The perpetrator of financial abuse will involve money being used or misused to limit and control their partner’s freedom to make choices and restrains their future actions.

This could be using credit cards with the victim’s permission, putting the name of the victim down to make contractual obligations, or even gambling using the assets of the victim.

Those who are victims of financial abuse can be left with no money once the perpetrator has done this, and this can limit the ability to pay for essentials like clothing and food.

In extreme cases, access to their bank account can be cut off, and this will leave them with no income of their own, and they can even have debt that has been wracked up by their abuser.

One of the worst aspects of financial abuse is how even when a survivor of this abuse escapes the situation, there is the chance that they will still be a victim of their abuser’s financial control.

Financial abuse may not be the primary form of abuse the victim suffers, but it can often be an aspect of a larger chain of abuse.

What Is Economic Abuse?

Economic abuse is a wider form of financial abuse that covers slightly more forms of abuse than financial abuse does. This could include aspects that are not covered by financial abuse like not being allowed access to essential resources like food and transport.

This could also include not allowing the victim to improve their economic status, whether this be through education, training, or employment.

This type of abuse is designed to force the victim into a state of economic instability and to limit the choices the victim can make. If you are lacking economic resources, you are more likely to face the harm of your abuser.

Spotting Signs Of Financial Abuse

Something that can help victims of financial abuse is to see what specific actions are classified as financial abuse.

When you are a victim of abuse, especially from someone close to you, like a partner, it can become very difficult to trust yourself, and you can often feel guilty when making strong decisions.

This is why it is important to have specific examples so you can see if they match up with your personal experiences.

A common example of financial abuse is when your abuser forces you to take out money or to instead get credit in your name.

This could also come in the form of them forcing you to give them access to your accounts which control money; in more extreme cases they could use this access to change the details to your login.

Other more specific examples of financial abuse include cashing in your pension or your checks without getting your permission. This is more difficult to do, but they could also add their name to your account without getting your permission. 

Financial abusers have been known to do things as extreme as forcing their victim to make them change their will in a way that the victim is not comfortable with, or has not properly consented to.

Financial abusers also take money that is lent to them for a specific purpose, like buying essentials or paying bills, and then spend the money in a way that does not align with the reason for giving the money.

Some financial abusers also force you to tell them, and prove what you have been spending money on, this is a form of them controlling what you can and what you can not spend your money on. 

There have been examples of financial abusers setting up a direct debit from your own account to pay bills that you have not consented to, or to pay for something that you have not purchased.

Financial abusers also pressure you to pay benefits into bank accounts that you do not have access to. There can also be pressure to transfer money or to draw down or stop paying payments into your pension.

Financial abuse can also come in the form of taking out different insurance policies to force you to stop paying for your own.

These are not all the examples of financial abuse, but hopefully it has helped you understand the forms it can come in, and align this with someone you think could be a victim, whether it is yourself, or someone you are close to.

What Is The Impact Of Financial Abuse?

What Is Classified As Financial Abuse?

In studies and surveys that have been done with victims of financial abuse, it has been shown that a third of survivors had their access to their money cut off, and a quarter said that they did not have access to essentials either.

A third of survivors were put in a situation where they had to give up their own home and were then homeless because of the abuse.

Little under half of the victims had found themselves in debt after the abuse, and over half had their ability to work in the future affected due to the financial abuse.

How To Safely Leave Financial Abuse

If you think that you are a victim of financial abuse and you want to know the best way to get out of this situation safely, there are a few steps you can take. The first is to formulate a safety plan so you have a way to leave your home in case of an emergency.

Safety plans come in all different forms, but they require a quick method of escape for you and other victims, for example, children, to be able to get out of the situation quickly with the essentials you need.

A way to prepare for this is to have access to your important documents. Another way to help with leaving is to keep records of the abuse experienced, whether this is pictures of the harm done, or messages with timestamps.

You will also want to report incidents to the police or doctors so you have more official proof of the abuse as well.

You can also contact a family law solicitor to help you or a victim of abuse, if you do not know how to do this, a local abuse hotline should be able to get you in contact.


Addressing financial abuse is incredibly important as a lot of people do not know that this is a valid form of abuse, and some people even see it as normal for a relationship.

When you have identified that you are a victim of financial abuse it can be hard to know what to do next.

But, we recommend formulating a safety plan, and talking to a local hotline in a safe place away from the abuser so you can go into detail on what you need.

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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