Financial control is another form of abuse by a problematic partner. The controlling of any monetary incoming and outgoing can initially be seen as caring. But such habits can build into controlling behaviours. Financial abuse creeps into all other areas of your freedom. For example, in my case I had to justify anything that I purchased (see the freedom to choose) and I had to supply receipts if I visited a coffee shop on my own. Furthermore, as she had full control of my finances I was unable to save to leave her.
A final catalyst came when I asked my ex to contribute more to the household finances. My ex contributed very little to the household expenses (although we both worked) and I was burdened with much of the household costs. Whilst out one morning, I asked her to go halves with the household finances as I wanted to save so I could obtain enough money for a deposit for a place of my own. In effect I told her I had had enough and wanted to leave. Her response was harsh, derogatory and malicious. In effect she had now realised that her controlling behaviours were now being recognised and I wanted to leave.
What is financial abuse?
Financial abuse comes in many forms beyond an expectation that you will pay for everything. It can mainly involve your partner spending your jointly-earned money, taking out loans in your name, making you pay the utility bills, or scrutinising every penny you spend. Furthermore, it can be the fore-runner of even more serious emotional, or physical, abuse.
A recent report called Unequal Trapped and Controlled (Marilyn Howard and Amy Skipp) identified the ten most frequent signs to look out for are a partner who:
- takes important financial decisions without you
- uses your credit/debit card without asking
- controls your access to money, through credit cards or a bank account
- takes your benefit payments, or wages
- refuses to contribute to household bills or children’s expenses
- puts bills in your name, but does not contribute to them
- takes out loans in your name – but does not help with repayments
- takes money from your purse/ bank account
- stops you working
- uses you as a free source of labour
I had experienced a few of these (not all) but my ex would often take my car (without asking – which is an offense in itself) and never replace the fuel that was consumed. This may seem like an inconsequential act but I was expected, therefore, to contribute to further expenses that were not my own.
I really struggle to see any benefit at all of joint accounts. It may have started out to be all ‘romantic’ and feeling that you have become ‘one’ by having a joint account. But I have witnessed from friends in similar situations that this becomes a financial nightmare once the break up begins.
My ex suggested this within days of moving in together. I instantly dismissed this idea but said I would consider it. Thank heavens I didn’t open a joint account as I would still, no doubt, be suffering with the consequences now.
Following simple online research, banks either don’t seem too interested or have little clout with regards to joint account difficulties. In essence, they are not able to intervene in such disputes.
- HSBC, for example, will only put restrictions on a joint account if it has advice from the Police to do so.
- Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), Lloyds and NatWest will block an account if they are formally notified that there is a marital dispute.
Financial abuse is illegal
Financial abuse has become recognised in various front line services such as the police and (as a paramedic) within the ambulance service. Furthermore, other organisations such as the Citizens Advice (document attached below), The Mankind Initiative, The National Domestic Violence Helpline and many others have developed specialist knowledge on this matter.
There is an importance to keeping records especially in cases like financial abuse (see blog on keeping records). This is strong evidence that you may rely on later.