The term “financial abuse” refers to a form of abuse when the abuser has control over the target’s access to financial resources, which diminishes the target’s capacity to support themselves and forces them to depend on the abuser financially. 

Here are 16 signs you may be experiencing financial abuse:

  • They control your finances.
  • They withhold money from you.
  • They forbid you from getting employed.
  • They steal or take money.
  • They misuse your funds.
  • They generate large debts in your name.
  • They deny their financial responsibility.
  • They damage your property.
  • They delay legal proceedings.
  • They refuse to work.
  • They sell your personal belongings.
  • They control your transportation.
  • They restrict your mail access.
  • They hand out financial punishments.
  • They engage in financial gaslighting.
  • They bribe you with expensive gifts.

In this article, I will guide you through these 16 signs to help you better understand the signs of financial abuse you should be on the lookout for.

1.) They Control Your Finances

The first sign of financial abuse is when the abuser controls the finances. This means they take charge of the target’s money, preventing them from easily accessing it. For example, they manage the target’s bank accounts and don’t give them the passwords.

Suggested Reading: Do Narcissists Use Money to Control Others?

2.) They Withhold Money from You

The second sign of financial abuse is when the abuser withholds money. This means they don’t let the target use their own money. For example, whenever the target asks for their own credit card, the abuser says no or that they don’t know where it is.

3.) They Forbid You from Getting Employed

The third sign of financial abuse is forbidding employment. This means the abuser prevents the target from having a job or ruins their current job. For example, the target gets a job offer one day, but the abuser burns the contract.

A narcissist burning a job offer their partner got.

4.) They Steal or Take Money

The fourth sign of financial abuse is stealing or taking money. This means the abuser takes money from the target or forces them to hand over their earnings. For example, after payday, the abuser demands the target give them their whole paycheck.

Suggested Reading: Will a Narcissist Steal From You?

5.) They Misuse Your Funds

The fifth sign of financial abuse is the misuse of funds. This is when the abuser uses the target’s money or items in ways they didn’t agree to. For example, the target gives the abuser money to pay for classes, but the abuser buys a phone with the money instead.

6.) They Generate Large Debts In Your Name

The sixth sign of financial abuse is generating large debts. This is when the abuser makes money decisions involving the target without asking them first, resulting in a lot of debt or other money troubles. For example, they sign the target’s name on a loan.

7.) They Deny Their Financial Responsibility

The seventh sign of financial abuse is denying financial responsibility. This is when the abuser refuses to take care of shared money duties. For example, even though they have kids together, the abuser refuses to help pay for the children’s school supplies.

A narcissist refusing to pay for his children's school supplies.

8.) They Damage Your Property

The eighth sign of financial abuse is damaging property. This is when the abuser damages the target’s property, making them spend money to fix or replace it. For example, the abuser slashes the target’s tires, forcing them to buy new ones.

9.) They Delay Legal Proceedings

The ninth sign of financial abuse is delaying legal proceedings. This means slowing legal proceedings to make the target spend more money. For example, the target is close to finalizing the divorce, so the abuser makes new demands to drag it out longer.

10.) They Refuse to Work

The tenth sign of financial abuse is refusing to work. This means the abuser won’t get a job or contribute money. For example, despite being able to work, the abuser refuses, making the target handle all the financial needs (e.g., bills).

11.) They Sell Your Personal Belongings

The eleventh sign of financial abuse is selling personal belongings. This is when the abuser sells items that belong to the target without permission. For example, the abuser sells the target’s favorite guitar or painting without permission.

12.) They Control Your Transportation

The twelfth sign of financial abuse is controlling transportation. This means the abuser stops the target from using transport, which can hurt their chances to work or be on their own financially. For example, the abuser takes the target’s car keys to work, so the target can’t drive to their job interviews.

13.) They Restrict Your Mail Access

The thirteenth sign of financial abuse is restricting mail access. This is when the abuser takes over getting the mail to hide money papers from the target. For example, the abuser hides the target’s credit card statements for months.

A narcissist stealing mail.

14.) They Hand Out Financial Punishments

The fourteenth sign of financial abuse is financial punishment. This means the abuser sets “fines” or “penalties” the target has to pay because of “mistakes” they’ve made. For example, the abuser demands a “late fee” because the target came home late.

15.) They Engage In Financial Gaslighting

The fifteenth sign of financial abuse is financial gaslighting. This is when the abuser makes the target believe they’re bad with money or couldn’t manage without the abuser’s help. For example, every time the target tries to talk about the family finances, the abuser dismisses them, insisting they don’t know anything about money.

Suggested Reading: Why Does Gaslighting Work So Well? (6 Reasons)

16.) They Bribe You with Expensive Gifts

The sixteenth sign of financial abuse is bribery with expensive gifts. This is when the abuser gives the target costly presents, not just out of kindness, but to make the target do something or agree with them. For example, the abuser offers to buy the target a designer bag if they agree to their financial decisions for the next month.

What Should You Take Away from This Article?

So there you have it, sixteen signs of financial abuse. I hope this article brought you value; thank you for reading it!

About the Author

Hey, I’m Elijah.

I experienced narcissistic abuse for three years. 

I create these articles to help you understand and validate your experiences.

Thank you for reading, and remember, healing is possible even when it feels impossible.

If you’re ready to heal, visit The Institute of Healing from Narcissistic Abuse to get started.

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