Financial Abuse Support Toolkit

What is financial abuse?

Financial abuse is sometimes called economic abuse. Financial abuse is a form of domestic and family violence.

Financial abuse can include many things, like controlling and preventing your access to money, stopping you from getting a job or forcing you to get loans you don't want.

Financial abuse can also occur with other forms of violence and abuse. Financial abuse is not OK. Support is available for you.

What is financial abuse?
Why is this happening to me?
I feel like I am the only one.

Financial abuse: what does it look like?

Financial Abuse Support Toolkit - Video 1

Three women with lived experience of financial abuse discuss their personal experiences. They explain what happened in their situations before and during the abuse occurred.

Participants in this video are speaking about the effects of financial abuse. If this video causes distress, you can contact 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or via the web chat to speak to a counsellor, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

What is financial abuse?

Financial abuse happens when someone uses money to control you, have power over you, scare or restrict you. Someone who is financially abusive might also use things you own, or things you both own (such as property), to cause problems for you.

Sometimes you might not even be aware that it is happening to you. This is because people who control others financially can often convince you that their way of “managing” money is for the best, or they may convince you that you don’t know how to manage money.

What are the warning signs?

A very common warning sign is being excluded from financial decision making or excluded from having access to information about your or your household’s money.

There will be a pattern to the behaviour as it usually happens again and again. You may not even be aware of how it started and usually it gets worse over time. Sometimes other types of abuse are going on at the same time. If financial abuse is being used to scare and control you, it is a form of domestic and family violence and it is not OK.

Who can experience financial abuse?

Financial abuse can happen to anyone, regardless of how wealthy you are, your ethnic background, gender, age and ability. It can happen at any time of a relationship, even after you have separated or divorced.

Many people who experience domestic and family violence have also experienced financial abuse.

If you or someone you know is experiencing financial abuse, you can contact 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or through online chat.

You can also get free confidential advice from a financial counsellor by calling the National Debt Helpline on 1800 007 007 between 9.30am and 4.30pm. You can also find a financial counsellor in your area on the National Debt Helpline website.

Who is responsible for financial abuse?

Financial abuse can happen in any relationship, including with:

  • Boyfriends, girlfriends, partners, husbands or wives
  • Ex-boyfriends, ex-girlfriends, ex-partners, ex-husbands or ex-wives
  • Carers or paid support workers
  • Parents, guardians or other family members
  • Adult children
  • Other people you live with or see often, whether inside or outside the home.

None of these people has the right to force or pressure you into letting them control your money or the things you own.

Financial abuse might include someone:

  • Stopping you from having money that is yours
  • Forcing you to pay for things you don't want or need
  • Forcing or pressuring you to giving your money to them or someone else
  • Controlling or taking your pension, benefits, or pay
  • Forcing or pressuring you to giving them control of your money, payments, bank accounts or property
  • Not allowing you to see bills, loans or bank account statements (or access bank apps)
  • Forcing or pressuring you to sell your property or possessions
  • Taking or selling your property or possessions without your permission
  • Forcing or pressuring you to sign documents, such as loans, mortgages, credit cards, debit cards, Centrelink claims and phone contracts
  • Forcing or pressuring you to sign a document that gives someone else control of your money, property or financial decisions
  • Taking out loans or running up debts in your name
  • Not letting you use joint bank accounts for normal household expenses
  • Stopping you or interfering with your work or ability to look for work
  • Stopping you or interfering with your schooling, studying, or your ability to go to school
  • Forcing you to work and not giving you access to your wages
  • Refusing to pay for things you need, such as food, medicine, or disability-related equipment
  • Refusing to use their money to support you and your children (when they are your partner or the parent of your children) or contributing to household expenses
  • Hiding assets and money.

Financial abuse can be a form of domestic or family violence. If you or someone you know is experiencing financial abuse it's OK to ask for help.