October is Domestic Violence Awareness month.

Some of you may be aware that I essentially created My Fab Finance as a result of the financial damages I experienced during a relationship that was physically, emotionally and financially abusive. I share my story throughout the year, because I feel that it is my responsibility as a survivor and financial counselor to raise awareness about this sensitive topic.

I want to show individuals who may be living in an abusive relationship that there is light and happiness on the other side. I also want to bring awareness to this pervasive issue. Our culture perpetuates a myth that victims and survivors of domestic violence look a certain way or experience domestic violence in the same way.

Anyone can be a victim of domestic violence and the tactics and methods of abuse utilized may vary. Click To Tweet

Thanks to Allstate and Kerry Washington, more people are learning about economic abuse. But it continues to take a back seat to the more physical forms of abuse. The truth is that financial abuse is prevalent.

It is estimated that financial abuse is present in 98% percent of abusive relationships. Click To Tweet

The effects of financial abuse often plague survivors after the relationship is over.

Now, here are 3 surprising indicators of financial abuse that will change how you view relationships:

Control of Assets/Lack of Assets in Your Name

Bad credit or a lack of employment information could be the original reason that you aren’t listed as a co-signer or owner on the auto loan, but it can also be an abuse tactic. You are in a precarious predicament  when you do not own any of the household assets. For example, if you’ve been working to pay the mortgage for the past 10 years, and you decide to divorce your abuser and you two decide to sell the home, technically you are not owed any of the equity that was earned over the past years. The abuser is maintaining control by not allowing you to own anything. This can also work in reverse, where the abuser forces you to put all the assets in your name so that you are the only one assuming credit risk and liability.

Prevention of advancement, educational or otherwise

Preventing a person from attending training programs to further their financial standing is also a form of economic abuse. Another common tactic is sabotaging a victim’s ability to take full advantage of the educational opportunities available to them by destroying  textbooks and materials or major assignments. I heard of one woman’s abuser destroying her Master’s thesis after she completed it and in another case the abuser prevented the victim from taking her final examination for the certification program.

Control of family income and finances

There are some individuals who would prefer not to work and to be taken care of by their significant other. A relationship could begin with the victim either electing to rely on the abuser for financial support or being convinced to live on the abuser’s income. An abuser may exhaust your resources to exert control over you and keep you broke; they may also monitor your access to resources. Instead of having free access to money, you must request an allowance and a justification for the funds requested. What may initially appear to be an advantage-because someone else is footing your life-could turn into a liability that leaves the victim resourceless and dependent upon the abuser for basic necessities.

Here are financial considerations to take when leaving an abusive relationship:

  • Change your passwords.
  • Close any joint accounts once you feel it is safe enough to do so to avoid allowing them to make new charges that you will be held responsible for.
  • Consider using a P.O box or a safe address on your applications and profiles so that they cannot use this information to locate and harm you. Any address you give potential creditors will show up on your credit report.
  • If you have not left and are planning to leave, try not to use computers in the home as they can use keyword tracking software to monitor your activities and information.
  • Continuously monitor your credit account for unfamiliar accounts and inquiries

If you don’t remember anything else from this article please remember that abuse is a pattern of coercive behavior with the goal of establishing and maintaining power and control. Abusers use physical, emotional, financial, and sexual tactics to maintain control of the relationship.

If you believe that you are in an abusive relationship or that someone you know is in an abusive relationship, please contact the National Domestic Violence hotline at 1-800-799-7233.

If you are in need of legal assistance related to your matter, you can find a list of national advocates here: http://www.probono.net/dv/

If you are in the NYC and would like me to connect you with safe organizations that I have worked with contact me via the contact us form.

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Created by nationally recognized millennial money expert Tonya Rapley, My Fab Finance is a leading financial education and lifestyle blog for millennials who want to become financially free and do more of what they love.