DV – Part III – Financial Abuse

There are fewer things nearer or dearer to an abuser’s heart than money. Remember, an abuser is all about control, and money is one of the things that they will maintain control over with an iron fist. From wanting an account of how every penny is spent, to taking the victim’s pay and not letting them have any money, to turning down the heat in the winter to the point where everyone is freezing, to spending money on their own toys instead of necessities for the home, almost all abusers with find some way to abuse control of money.

In my situation, it was like this: I came home from work one day to find a huge box – I’m talking a cube four foot by four foot by four foot – sitting in the middle of the living room floor. Curious, I peered inside, to find a huge pile of toys…for the dog. Four hundred dollars’ worth of toys…for the dog. Another time, I came home to find my husband curled up in his favorite position on the couch watching TV wearing a gorgeous sweater…. a $200 sweater. Which would have been well and good if he had been working and making a lot of money. Maybe then we could afford toys for the dog and $200 sweaters to curl up on the couch in, but he was refusing to work. My salary was barely making the mortgage and keeping food on the table. Then there was the day he came home and threw the paperwork down on the table for the $35,000 truck he had just ordered; the truck he rolled and totaled while being drunk, not too long after he bought it. It seemed like there was just no end to the way he could spend money, but no way he was going to work to pay the bills.

When I finally kicked him out, he never worked another day in his life and I spent thirteen years getting out of the debt he put me in. Before meeting him, I was never even charged a finance charge or late charge on a bill. I had excellent credit and was never in debt. Not only that, but he had totally drained my whole life savings telling me it was for “our future”, when he knew darn well we had no future together. It was all a con to get the little bit of savings I had.


All victims and survivors have their own stories of financial hardship. Even wealthy abusers will use money to control a victim, the children and the way the whole household is run. It runs the gamut from out of control spending to withholding money for necessary things for the family. And it’s a constant source of irritation and tension.

And even when a victim breaks free from the abuser, money can still be an issue. One abuser told his victim that he’d rather see his attorney get all his money than to have her get any of it, so he kept taking her to court for every little thing.

Money issues arise in every marriage. In non-abusive ones, the problems may cause friction or tension, but in abusive ones, the problems can become a matter of life or death.



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