Economic Abuse

Financial or economic abuse is a form of coercive control and occurs when money is used to harm or trap a victim survivor in an abusive relationship. When an abusive partner controls the finances, they create dependency and make it extremely challenging for the victim survivor to leave or support themselves financially.

Economic Abuse - Coercive control Article

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Financial abuse often starts when the abusive partner suggests that they will look after the money because they are ‘better at managing it’. This might lead to them making decisions about finances, income and budgets without your input.

Economic abuse typically gets worse over time and can happen so subtly that you don’t realise it is happening. It might make you feel like you are stupid or incompetent with money.

Louisa lives in the city. On her lunch break she goes to buy some lunch but her ATM card gets declined. After several failed and embarrassing attempts, she calls her husband as he handles the finances. He doesn’t answer. Louisa skips lunch and when she gets home that evening, she discovers a brand new car in the driveway. Louisa is worried because her husband has already convinced her into financing his new business venture. She had no idea he was also planning to get a new car. Louisa doesn’t think she can bring this up with him without having a heated argument. Whenever she has brought up things like this in the past, she has been told it is none of her business.

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Economic Abuse

  • Sabotaging your ability to earn money or improve your qualifications or education
  • Humiliating or mocking your higher or lower salary
  • Mocking your financial habits and labelling you as ‘reckless’ or ‘bad with money’
  • Restricting your access to money
  • Forcing you into or making financial decisions without your knowledge, including:
  • Offering money in exchange for sexual favours
  • Controlling your access to a vehicle

Find Support to Healthy Practices offers a free step-by-step guide on personal safety, support services and money matters for people facing family and domestic violence. If you are experiencing economic abuse, you may find these website sections particularly helpful.

1. Prepare

2. Act Now

ATO (Australian Tax Office)

Centrelink Families Line

Financial Counselling Network


Learn more about coercive control behaviours, complete our Coercive Control Self Assessment