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How Do You Recognize Financial Abuse?

Dear Carrie: Im concerned that my son is in a financially abusive relationship. Because his fiancee claims to be better with money, she manages all their finances, including his salary, and controls their accounts. As a result, hes totally reliant on her for anything he wants, even spending money. I dont see this as healthy. I worry that shes purposely keeping him dependent on her. Am I being overly concerned?—A Reader

Dear Reader: Youre absolutely right to be concerned. While it can make sense for one partner in a couple to take the lead in managing finances, allowing someone to take total control is another matter. And over time, that control could turn into an abusive situation with long-term consequences.

Theres a growing awareness of financial abuse and a realization that its not uncommon. According to a 2017 survey of millennials by Centsai, an online financial wellness community, 68 percent of female respondents said theyd been a victim of financial abuse. What may come as a surprise is that 40 percent of male respondents also said they had suffered financial abuse.

And it can go beyond money. Many people dont recognize financial abuse as a form of domestic violence. But in fact, nearly all victims of physical domestic abuse report that their partner also uses financial control as a weapon. In fact, financial dependence is one of the main reasons many victims dont leave an abusive relationship.

So while your son may not express his own concerns about this situation, I would encourage you to bring up your reservations and perhaps offer him some insight into healthy ways for couples to manage their money together. Heres some perspective to help you.

Financial Abuse Can Be Subtle and Come in Many Guises

Its not just fraud or theft. Financial abuse can happen when someone takes complete charge of another persons finances, as in your sons situation. What can initially seem like a simple matter of practicality could turn into a power play to control the others behavior.

Often, when the abuse is gradual, it can be harder to recognize. Hiding purchases or taking small amounts of money over time are common tactics that are easily overlooked. But it can grow into more overt actions like forging checks, opening credit cards without the other persons knowledge, hiding or withholding money, and using money as a form of manipulation and intimidation.

Other forms of abuse may affect a victims ability to work by blocking access to a car or interfering with a job.

It can destroy assets, credit—and confidence

On the financial side, financial abuse can have devastating and long-lasting consequences. Investment losses or damaged credit can take years to rebuild. If lawyers need to be involved, it can add thousands of dollars and take more time to resolve.

Emotionally, the effects of financial abuse can lead to depression and anxiety, ultimately making it even more difficult for the victim to regain their financial independence and long-term security. Fear of embarrassment or fear of additional abuse often makes victims reluctant to get help on their own, prolonging the situation.

Its Not Just About Couples

As I mentioned, financial abuse can impact men and women alike. And its not just couples who need to be aware. While young millennials are more commonly targeted in new intimate relationships or friendships, senior citizens are especially vulnerable to having a relative, friend or caregiver steal money.

And dont think that being in a certain occupation or having a certain level of education or income makes one immune. It occurs in all work situations and all economic levels—from members of the military to teachers to physicians—and in all areas of the country.

Start a Conversation—the Sooner the Better

With this information in mind, bring up the subject with your son without questioning his fiancees motives. Tell him youre concerned because if theyre planning a future together, its important that theyre on the same page financially. For instance, have they talked about their mutual goals and how theyre saving for them? Is he comfortable with how shes managing their money, and does he share in the decision-making? Does he have their account numbers and easy online access to the accounts? Be sure hes aware that his retirement saving is up to him, and discuss whetRead More – Source

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