This post is by our Quaker House LCSW mental health counselor, Joanna. 

Abuse can come in many forms, and while I have written about this before, more of our clients are reporting financial abuse as one of the ways they are being controlled by their partners. This abuse can happen in several forms but there are two main ways—restriction and overspending. Our clients have reported a mix of both. The overall goal of the abuser is to ensure that their partner can’t leave due to a lack of financial resources. Several of our clients have reported restriction in their relationships—their partner does not allow them to have access to money or credit cards. If they work, they have to turn over their paycheck or wages to the abusive partner. Often, they will talk about having a set allowance that ensures they can’t save any money.

Overspending is often not considered abuse at first, but when it is done with the intent to punish the partner, or again, not allow them to save, it is considered abuse. This can happen in a lot of relationships, but it becomes viewed as abuse if the spending partner is spending in an effort to not allow their partner to advance, save money, or purposely cause them financial ruin. While this is a little less common than restrictive financial abuse, we have had clients report it. Usually, they have saved money with a specific intent and their partner spends it on themselves.

In some cases, we have had clients discuss how their partner has made them completely financially dependent on them—putting all property in their partner’s name, being given an allowance, having no access to debit/credit cards, not being allowed to save money, and in one extreme case, when a client was given a car by her parents, her husband purposefully wrecked it and kept the insurance payout. This showed signs of a spouse that wanted complete control over his wife and their child (not even letting her drive without his permission), by destroying her vehicle.

Abusers need control over their victims, and finances are a quick way to gain control. Victims often feel inadequate and question themselves due to the emotional abuse that frequently accompanies financial abuse. This further compounds issues and creates dependence on the abusive partner. Many times, victims cannot see a way out of their abusive situation.

All of this is compounded by an active-duty military lifestyle in which the couple is often stationed geographically away from family and frequent moves can mean local support systems (including friends, organizations, and services) need to be continuously reestablished.

Our work continues to allow victims and survivors to see themselves outside of their abuser’s perspective and to access and connect to programs they of which they were not aware. We help them develop self-empowerment and a vision for the future without their abuser that will allow them to get help and leave their situations if they wish to do so.

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Over the past six years, Joanna has provided 2,845 hours of individual counseling to
active-duty and veteran service members and/or their family members.
Because of your financial support, there is no charge to those receiving counseling services at Quaker House.
Thank you!