We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is Financial Abuse?

Allison Boelcke
Updated May 16, 2024
Our promise to you
SmartCapitalMind is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At SmartCapitalMind, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Financial abuse is a form of mistreatment and fraud in which someone forcibly controls another person's money or other assets. It can involve, for instance, stealing cash, not allowing a victim to take part in any financial decisions or preventing a victim from having a job. The issue tends to occur most often in domestic relationships, such as between a husband and wife or an elderly parent and an adult child. People don't always recognize the problem, because an abuser purposely might select an isolated, vulnerable victim who is unlikely to realize what's happening or who will feel too ashamed to report it.

Cases Involving the Elderly

Elder financial abuse involves someone targeting an older adult, often a parent or other close relative, in the hope of being allowed access to his or her financial information. He might act as though he is simply helping manage the senior's finances, but instead, he takes the money for himself. This might be in the form of convincing an elderly person to sign legal financial documents or getting the victim to change the mailing address on bills and other records.

People who attempt to control and take money from the elderly have a variety of motives. Some might see individuals who are disabled or lonely as easy targets, because these people might be more likely to accept help and allow others to access their records and accounts. Adult children might feel they are entitled to their parents' wealth, especially if they are set to receive inheritances. Others select targets based on the desire for revenge for a poor relationship.

Marital Manipulation

Financial abuse also can occur in marriages as a means to have control over a partner in order to make him feel hopeless enough to never leave. One partner might not allow the other to have access to any of the household money, or he might give only a small allowance. He might even confiscate the victim’s own paycheck or other means of personal funds. In some cases, a person might force a spouse to quit a job, or he might cause disruptions in the workplace to get the victim fired. Another potential instance is when one partner purposely accumulates large amounts of debt using joint checking or credit accounts.

Abuse of Children

Some people choose to financially hurt kids rather than an elderly individual or spouse. The majority of parents are legally able to handle money issues for their minor children, so these cases frequently go unreported. The motivation, similar to cases in marriages, is usually to keep the child from eventually leaving. The parent might willfully avoid teaching the child how to manage his funds, or he might take money the child and other relatives have set aside for things like college, having no intent to pay it back. He might lie about the stealing, saying he's investing it on the minor's behalf.

Another common issue is to take care of money-related issues but to purposely not discuss them with the child first. The parent usually says he's just trying to make things easier or be nice, but by beating the child to the financial punch, he is essentially controlling what a child acquires or does. When the child tries to assert more independence, the abuser makes him feel guilty, saying that he is unappreciative or ungrateful not only for the financial "help," but for everything else provided, too.

Between Friends

Sometimes, this type of mistreatment occurs between friends. Here, as in cases with the elderly, a person preys on the other individual's fear of loneliness or need for true help. He might say, for example, that he won't be friends or provide other assistance anymore without access to financial information, or that a true friend would loan him money. He also might conveniently "forget" his cash or credit cards when out, forcing the friend to pick up the tab and then never repaying him.


Being financially manipulated, either subtly or conspicuously, can result in serious monetary instability. Quality of living often suffers as a consequence. Many people feel embarrassed about the situation and don't get help, which just perpetuates the problem. They also often suffer from stress, either from the abuser's words or direct actions, or from the aftereffects of those circumstances, such as not being able to make a mortgage payment.

In some cases, the results of the problem can trickle down to others. If someone convinces a senior citizen to sign over his home, for example, that property can't be given as an inheritance. Loved ones might have to work at "cleaning up" the financial mess long after the control stops, and if courts need to get involved, this potentially can take years to complete. It also can require the individual who steps in to put some of his own money toward resolution, such as paying for an attorney.

Warning Signs

A person might be experiencing financial manipulation if he appears withdrawn or depressed, or if his physical appearance and hygiene seems to be suffering. He might not make decisions about money with confidence on his own. Discrepancies or unusual transactions on bank records, sudden changes in feelings for a particular person, increased use of alcohol or other substances and the controlling individual often being around are all additional warning signs.


One of the simplest ways to prevent financial mistreatment is to stay involved in a circle of friends or social groups so that a network is available for help. People also can insist on opening their own mail and having access to all financial records. Modern technology reduces risk through options like direct deposit and automatic bill payments. Applying a rule of three is also a good idea — this means that, any time a person needs to discuss money, at least two other people participate in the conversation. An individual even can use strategies like digitally recording financial meetings so there is a record of what happened.


When a person suspects that someone else is being financially controlled, he should first contact local authorities, such as the victim's bank and the police department, as well as an attorney. These agencies will launch formal investigations and, if necessary, prosecute the offenders. Individuals also can make reports to other agencies, such as the National Center for Elder Abuse in the US. Regardless of how a person makes a report, a complaint usually has a better result if the filer has some documentation to support the claims.

SmartCapitalMind is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Allison Boelcke
By Allison Boelcke
Allison Boelcke, a digital marketing manager and freelance writer, helps businesses create compelling content to connect with their target markets and drive results. With a degree in English, she combines her writing skills with marketing expertise to craft engaging content that gets noticed and leads to website traffic and conversions. Her ability to understand and connect with target audiences makes her a valuable asset to any content creation team.
Discussion Comments
By anon988550 — On Feb 12, 2015

Thank you for posting.I have been emotionally abused for years. We are renting and have a pile of bills that need to be paid. My husband is working, but yet he doesn't give me to pay for rent or anything but has money for this and that, like his car and insurance, but has excuses like my check was short and I can't pay for rent. But yet he says he is paying for bills. Yeah right. I get $800 dollars every two weeks from my job and that's supposed to pay for rent, utilities and clothing, food, misc. stuff.

About the children: I take care of them. I clothe them, feed them, and put a roof over their head. But somehow they like their dad more because he does fun things with him. It just makes me mad. No one seems to care what he is doing is wrong.

Then he has the brass to ask for money so he can get his brakes fixed. I said I only have enough money to put gas in my car.

I am always wondering if his previous girlfriends had this amount of trouble with him paying for bills when they lived with him.

By anon981016 — On Dec 09, 2014

I was recently recommended a book that I would like to recommend here titled "Build Wealth and Spend It All" by author Stanley Riggs. Dr. Riggs experienced a life changing moment seeing his 90 year old mother in a retirement home, her money dwindling away while she was too old to enjoy it anymore.

He regretted ever advising her to save as much as he did, and took that moment to formulate strategies and a guide to help people avoid the same mistake. This book is great because although it focuses on building a stable financial base, it also teaches us what to do with the money once we have it, which is something many don't often plan for.

By anon970148 — On Sep 16, 2014

I was married for 37 years and my husband earned a six figure salary. He gave me so much grief over my use of the credit card to purchase three outfits. While I worked, I had to buy groceries out of my earnings as well as use my income to provide clothing for the children. My wardrobe suffered and I got strange looks at work regarding my condition of dress.

He would not allow me access to the checking account. If I would go to the bank, he would give me more grief than I could stand. He would also beat me to the mail box so I didn't have total access to the accounts. I am legally separated now and as happy as can be.

By anon341436 — On Jul 12, 2013

I just got out of a long term relationship. Over the last couple of years in the relationship, he stopped paying his portion of the bills and I used 3/4 of my savings three times to pay our home out of foreclosure above my part of the bills.

The fourth time it went into foreclosure, I took my last savings and moved out. He is losing the home as I type, for not paying for it. I feel he was manipulating me into paying his bills so he could spend my savings.

I have lost my home and relationship and have to move. Is this financial manipulation? I have suffered for it as he refuses to even acknowledge it is owed me, since "I was just paying bills".

By anon316184 — On Jan 27, 2013

What about parents who financially abuse their adult children who are in a more vulnerable financial position (who are in a position of financial indigence)? Nobody hears about that!

By anon164192 — On Mar 30, 2011

I think this is abuse. I am also married to someone who is in control of all the money and the homes we own are in his name. I am trying to get away now and it is very hard because I don't have access to money. I am going to get on my own, even if I have to start all over with my two children. I hope you get away and get on your own. I wish you and your children the best.

By anon160291 — On Mar 15, 2011

I feel very sad about your story, I feel sad for you and children. I assume you have (or had) feelings of attachment and love for him strong enough to be able to endure such situation.

Maybe it is rude to say, but your partner used you and your feelings all those years. After your description of his behavior towards you and children, he seems to be very selfish opportunist. You mention "his house." Do you mean the house is on his name only? It seems that everything goes in for his personal advantage here and that things are worse than a financial abuse.

I am afraid that with time the situation will not get better because from what he is now, he is not going to transform into a loving, caring and generous man.

Many women like you make sacrifices for the well-being of their families and children and the slow process of abuse unfairly takes place very often. But like a soccer game needs two gates to be played, a relationship needs two partners to be involved in every aspect of it especially when you have children.

With all my compassion to you, I am asking Lord to help you and give you the strength to pass through this.

By anon132212 — On Dec 06, 2010

I have been with my partner for 11 years. i have worked most of the years. he has been building a house for many years, so I and my two children have moved many times to a lot of different addresses.

At every address where we lived, I paid for everything and all bills have been in my name at these addresses. the only bills he pays are those in his self build.

he has never paid a bill or helped with anything in my name, leaving my name in big debt but his clean.

my partner used to give me 50 a week to feed all four of us a week and has put that up to 100 pounds in the last few years which is constantly moaned about. I no longer have a job due to being pregnant. i am made to feel useless for not providing an income.

When i express my upset with this situation he takes and means of money from me, leaving me to worry about how to get petrol and food. i do not have any money to leave and feel completely trapped.

I am now living in a small unit with him and my children because i can no longer pay the rent on a house so our only option is a unit on the land he is building on. His house is almost finished and i have had not a single piece of input into this house that has taken six years to build.

Nothing is in my name and after 11 years, marriage to him, is little more than a swear word because he said i might take his house from him. please, can someone tell me is this abuse?

i am now having to do things i should not to get money for me and my kids or we would not have nothing. He has expensive hobbies that often become obsessions and always put them before myself and children he never does anything with us as a family and never does anything that does not benefit him. i am seven months pregnant with his second child and have another child from a previous relationship whom i also raise myself.

Allison Boelcke
Allison Boelcke
Allison Boelcke, a digital marketing manager and freelance writer, helps businesses create compelling content to connect with their target markets and drive results. With a degree in English, she combines her writing skills with marketing expertise to craft engaging content that gets noticed and leads to website traffic and conversions. Her ability to understand and connect with target audiences makes her a valuable asset to any content creation team.
SmartCapitalMind, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

SmartCapitalMind, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.