Financial Abuse: Know the Signs

Financial abuse has been dubbed the ‘hidden epidemic’ with as many as 40 per cent of Australians reporting that they, or someone they know, have experienced it. So, what is financial abuse exactly, and how can you spot the signs and take steps to protect yourself or a loved one?

A2020 study conducted by YouGov and commissioned by the Commonwealth Bank, found that over a quarter (26%) of those surveyed said they had experienced financial abuse personally, with an additional 12% saying they knew someone who is currently or has been a victim.

Financial abuse can happen to anyone and is not based on education, income or independence. Like other forms of abuse, financial abuse is often designed to gain power and control and can trap a victim in an abusive relationship. It may be obvious or subtle and can be very traumatic with long-lasting impacts.

While financial abuse often accompanies domestic and family violence, and women are more likely to experience it than men, it is unfortunately less well understood or reported on. Knowing the signs can help.

Signs of Financial Abuse

The most commonly reported signs of financial abuse are:

61%reported a perpetrator who uses their partner’s wages for household expenses, while spending their own money only on themselves.

56% knew of a perpetrator who hid financial assets.

55% a perpetrator who took complete control of their partner’s finances.

55% a perpetrator who refused to contribute to the household finances.

Other common signs include restricting a partner’s access to bank accounts; taking a partner’s pay and refusing them access to it; using a victim’s credit cards without consent; or even stealing a partner’s financial identity, money or property.

How to find help

If you, or a loved one, are in an abusive or violent relationship, the first step is to ensure that you or they, and any other family members are physically safe. The second step is to make a plan and this likely means connecting with nearby support services.

1800RESPECT – 1800 737 732is the national sexual assault and domestic family violence counselling service. The service is open 24/7 and offers confidential advice and support to those impacted by assault, violence and abuse. The hotline can help connect people experiencing financial or other domestic abuse with support services, such as housing, legal, financial, employment, and counselling support services.

Talk to us. Callus anytime on (02) 8268 2900 for an obligation-free chat.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is general in nature and does not take into account your personal objectives, financial situation or needs. Please consider whether the information is appropriate to your circumstance before acting on it and, where appropriate, seek professional advice.

SOURCE: Community Attitudes to Financial Abuse. June 2020. Survey of over 10,000 Australians about financial abuse, commissioned by Commonwealth Bank of Australia ABN 48 123 123 124 and conducted by YouGov.