What are the signs?

Financial abuse can be different depending on your circumstances.

There are similarities and differences in what people may experience.

Financial abuse is a form of domestic and family violence and it is ok to ask for support.

I feel like I am trapped.
Are you scared to ask for money?
Does your partner tell you they will look after your money?

Financial abuse: what are the signs?

Financial Abuse Support Toolkit - Video 2

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.

Financial abuse can be different for different people depending on their circumstances. However, there are similarities in what they may experience, and the impact on them.

Those who have experienced financial abuse say:

  • They were fearful of the other person
  • Financial abuse was experienced with other forms of abuse (including physicalmental and emotional)
  • There were subtle changes in the other person’s behaviour, and it then progressed over time before they “realised it was happening”
  • They were made to feel “stupid” or incompetent, and would doubt their own knowledge
  • Loans, mortgages, credit cards and accounts were only in one person’s name, and this made them feel powerless and trapped
  • There were no discussions about finance, income and budgets. Decisions were made without their input.

Fears and emotions can be signs of financial abuse, including:

  • Feeling alone
  • Fear of being judged
  • Feeling scared of the other person and what they might do
  • Feeling trapped
  • Feeling helpless
  • Feeling like you have no autonomy
  • Feeling like “walking on eggshells”
  • Scared for others in the environment, for example, children and pets
  • A gut feeling that it “isn’t right”
  • Feeling useless or “stupid”
  • Feeling trapped like a prisoner or hostage
  • Feelings of shame and humiliation
  • Being scared in their own home.

Financial abuse can be a form of domestic and family violence, and it is never OK. There is support available, and organisations that can assist. 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 our website.