My partner controls our money – is it economic abuse?

Financial abuse (also known as ‘economic abuse’) is a form of family and domestic violence. It is one of the lesser understood and recognised forms of abuse, but is surprisingly common.  Financial abuse is when a person uses finances (or restricts ability to get work, which gives people the ability to make their own money) to hurt or control their partner.

Financial abuse could be when a partner:

  • Spends large amounts of money you have saved or earned, without asking
  • Limits you to a strict allowance (that you have not agreed to)
  • Requires you to justify and report every expense, without doing the same
  • Requires you to ask permission before making small purchases
  • Prevents you from working or completing a course of study
  • Makes you pay off debt they have incurred, without you agreeing to it
  • Steals your money
  • Ruins your credit history
  • Interferes with your job or tries to sabotage your career

Financial abuse takes many forms. If your partner is controlling your ability to make, use or save money, it is likely to be financial abuse. Ultimately, like other forms of domestic violence, financial abuse is a deliberate attempt by an abuser to control their partner.

Financial abuse is also one of the most effective methods abusers use to keep their victims trapped. Without their own financial resources to rely on, victims often feel like they and their children have no choice but to stay with their abusive partner. This is also one of the main reasons why women return to abusive relationships (A. Herman, 2019).


If this sounds familiar to you, we encourage you to read more from Your Toolkit – you can start here. This information aims to prepare you to take back your independence, and make an informed, safe decision to stay or Act Now and leave the relationship.

Alternatively, check out the Rebuild section of Your Toolkit to find out more about personal money matters, including;

  • Centrelink support payment and services
  • Housing matters
  • Staying safe at home and in public
  • Financial assistance for living costs
  • Accessing legal services
  • Keeping mail safe
  • Tenancy information and laws

If you’re not experiencing financial abuse thank you for educating yourself and becoming an ally. We encourage all supporters to share our content on social media, access our resources and most importantly #tell3 people what you’ve learnt. Domestic violence is often suffered in silence, so any effort to create an open dialect is an opportunity to support your family and friends, who you might be going through something similar.