When people hear the phrase “domestic violence”, what usually comes to mind is the physical or verbal abuse that one person in the family inflicts on another. However, a hidden facet of domestic violence that not many people know of is financial abuse. Financial abuse is prevalent in many domestic abuse cases and exists in about 98% of reported domestic violence situations. If you or someone you love is a victim of financial abuse, you should seek the help of a family lawyer for guidance on what you should do next.
What is Financial Abuse?
Financial abuse occurs when someone attempts to make a family member financially dependent. To make someone financially dependent, the abuser may resort to different tactics. These tactics include:
- restricting or withholding access to cash;
- maintaining control over real property, bank accounts or other assets;
- using the information of the victim to secure loans or open credit card accounts and never paying the debts owed. This in turn destroys the credit of the vicitm;
- making big financial decisions without asking the victim;
- making the victim co-sign loans or credit card accounts;
- giving the victim an “allowance” without letting them have access to their own money;
- making use of the power-of-attorney signed by the victim so that the abuser can sign other financial or legal documents on behalf of the victim without his or her consent;
- making the victim provide proof of expenditure such as receipts and having him or her account for all money spent;
- making the victim cash-in any assets under his or her name and then handing the cash over to the abuser;
- making the victim plead for cash for necessities like clothing, food and shelter, but spending freely on themselves;
- forcing the victim to hand over all their paychecks to the abuser;
- preventing the victim from going to school or other training programs;
- isolating the victim and preventing him or her from seeing his or her friends and family;
- harassing the victim at his or her workplace and preventing him or her from making money;
- causing the victim to be unable to land a job and making him or her financially dependent on the abuser; and
- threatening the victim if he or she chooses to leave the abuser.
Why do Victims remain in Abusive Relationships?
A financially abusive relationship starts out slowly and victims may not be aware of being manipulated at first. Over time, the abuser begins to gain control over the victim’s finances. Victims of financial abuse usually do not have the means or resources to escape or leave the abusive relationship. Hence, they can either choose to remain in the abusive relationship and risk their emotional, physical and financial wellbeing, or leave and risk becoming homeless and impoverished since they no longer have money of their own. In some worst case scenarios, the abuser may have incurred debt that the victim has to pay off. By destroying the victim’s credit, he or she will not be able to apply for credit cards, housing loans, phone lines or look for any employment.
Sometimes, victims are also manipulated into thinking that they cannot leave as they cannot survive without the abuser. The situation can become more complicated when children are involved. Abusers often threaten victims with their children. This leaves the victims with no choice but to cooperate with their abusers.
Romanowski Law Offices can Assist with Financial Abuse Cases
If you or someone you know is a victim of financial abuse, reaching out to a reliable family law attorney can help the victim sift out the truth from the lies of the abuser. At Romanowski Law Offices, Attorney Romanowski will be able to guide the victim on the next course of action to take. Attorney Romanowski is a skillful and experienced family law attorney who has made it to the Top One Percent List by the National Association of Distinguished Counsel. As a knowledgeable family law attorney, he will be able to help victims of financial abuse break free from their abusers. Speak to Attorney Romanowski to find out more today!