An important question we got but didn’t have time to answer during our last therapist-led Q&A session was, “What are the different types of financial abuse?”

The six types of financial abuse abusers use are economic exploitation, restriction, sabotage, deception, forced economic dependency, and pressure.

In this article, I will guide you through these six types to help you better understand the tactics abusers use to abuse others financially.

1.) Economic Exploitation

Economic exploitation involves intentionally manipulating or using a target’s financial resources without consent. 

It often means leveraging power to benefit from another person’s assets, funds, or labor, leaving them disadvantaged or deprived.

For example, let’s think about a couple, Maria and Paul. 

Maria had built up a sizable savings account over the years. 

When she married Paul, he manipulated her into investing her savings in a “business opportunity” he controlled. 

An abuser manipulating someone into investing money in a business opportunity.

Unknown to Maria, this “business opportunity” was a sham, and Paul was using her money for personal luxuries, leaving her without her life’s savings. 

In this scenario, Paul exploited Maria’s financial resources by leveraging his power and trust in their relationship to benefit himself at her expense.

This is economic exploitation.

2.) Economic Restriction

Economic restriction involves deliberately limiting or prohibiting the target from acquiring, using, or maintaining their own or shared financial resources. 

This could mean establishing strict controls over spending, access to accounts, or even the ability to seek external sources of finance.

For example, imagine Sarah and David, a married couple who shared a joint account since their marriage. 

As the marriage progressed, David established rules over how much Sarah could spend and insisted that she ask for permission for even minor expenses. 

When Sarah wanted to enroll in a course to improve a specific set of skills, David refused, saying they couldn’t “afford” it.

A narcissist claiming something is too expensive.

Even though he frequently made expensive purchases for himself.

In addition, he limited her access to the online bank account, meaning Sarah had no idea about their financial status. 

David’s actions controlled Sarah, preventing her from accessing or using their shared financial resources freely, so this is an example of economic restriction.

Suggested Reading: 16 Signs of Financial Abuse

3.) Economic Sabotage

Economic sabotage is the act of intentionally obstructing or undermining a target’s ability to maintain or acquire financial stability. 

It encompasses behaviors that prevent someone from earning or saving money or advancing in a job or career, weakening their financial independence.

For example, imagine a woman named Jane.

She works in a respected company and is on track for a promotion. 

Her partner, Alex, is insecure about her potentially earning more than him. 

To undermine her, he began regularly creating emergencies or situations that forced her to miss critical meetings or deadlines. 

He’d also send sabotaging emails to her colleagues and superiors from her account when she left her computer unattended, damaging her professional reputation. 

An abuser at a computer.

Alex’s intentional actions sabotaged Jane’s career progress, limiting her potential income and financial stability.

This is an example of economic sabotage.

4.) Economic Deception

Economic deception is the act of misrepresenting, concealing, or lying about financial information or resources. 

This can involve hiding assets, generating secret debts, or not disclosing full financial details to the target, misleading them about their financial reality.

For example, I want you to picture a guy named Lucas who has trusted his older brother, Ethan, to manage the inheritance they received from their grandparents. 

Ethan told Lucas he had invested the money into a secure mutual fund. 

Years later, when Lucas decided to purchase a home, he asked Ethan about his share of the inheritance for a down payment.

Ethan hesitated and eventually admitted he’d used a portion of Lucas’s share on something else.

A narcissist telling his brother that he use his portion of the inheritance for something else.

In this scenario, Ethan had deceived Lucas for years, hiding the truth about how the inheritance was actually being managed and used.

This is an example of economic deception.

5.) Forced Economic Dependency

Forced economic dependency involves creating or perpetuating circumstances that cause the target to rely on the abuser for their financial needs excessively. 

It means structuring the financial dynamics in a way so the target lacks financial independence and has minimal or no control over their economic well-being.

For instance, let’s say a woman named Ava and her younger sister, Mia, have been living together since the death of their parents. 

Mia was studying at a university, while Ava worked full-time. 

Ava insisted on managing all the finances and justified this by saying that Mia should focus solely on her studies. 

Over time, Ava started to restrict Mia’s access to the money, even for her necessary educational expenses. 

She often said, “You don’t need to worry about money; just rely on me.”

An abuser tricking her partner into becoming financially dependent on her.

By doing so, Ava forced Mia into a state of economic dependency, where Mia felt she had no financial freedom or control.

6.) Economic Pressure

Economic pressure means utilizing financial means or implications to influence, persuade, or coerce the target into specific decisions, actions, or behaviors. 

It’s a way of exerting control by making the target feel financially bound or obligated.

For example, meet Claire, an accomplished artist, and her cousin, Greg, her abuser.

Claire and Greg have decided to start an art gallery together.

Greg often pressured Claire into contributing her artworks for free or at a significantly reduced price for his exhibitions, saying, “It’s family; you should support me.” 

A narcissist trying to guilt-trip someone.

He’d remind her about when he loaned her money during her college years, making Claire feel indebted and obligated to give in to his demands. 

Suggested Reading: 10 Tactics Narcissists Use to Make You Feel Guilty

Greg’s consistent reminders of past favors and the family bond applied financial and emotional pressure on Claire.

This pressure coerced her into making financial decisions (contributing her artworks for free or at a significantly reduced price) she wouldn’t have made otherwise.

This is an example of economic pressure.

What Should You Take Away from This Article?

So there you have it, six types of financial abuse abusers use. I hope this article brought you value. Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to read 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.
Share this post to help others trust their experiences.

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About This Article

We used Artificial Intelligence (AI) to create parts of this article to enhance its accuracy and readability. It underwent a strict human editorial process before being published. See additional information.

2 Comments

  1. Thank you for this content.
    I’ve endured almost every one of these malicious, though covert, measures to break and control me. I didn’t recognize what I was dealing with until recently. If I’d known earlier, I could have salvaged a large portion of my life wasted trying to figure out what was going wrong and to loyally try salvaging things. Of course, they always make you tink they didn’t actually do what you physically saw & heard them do, and if that doesn’t work they blame it on you, or someone or somethng else. The ALWAYS have an excuse, and they’re masters at it, so it’s usually believable. And, even when it isn’t believable, they’ll just guilt you or shame you into believing them. They thrive on bullying you into submission at any cost. That sounds like a crazy concept, too far-fetched to believe, even though you’re living it. So, you just try to make peace with thing and move on in sake of a peaceful existence. I say this to acknowledge that the content you put forth could truly save someone’s life. It would have saved 10 years of mine, if I’d known sooner. Please keep up the good work. Also, I’ve read clinical, and other professional content.. yours is simultaneously the most accurate, and easy for the average person to understand. You’re doing it right. Kudos!

    1. Hi Tiffany,

      Thank you for leaving a comment.

      I’m sorry you’ve had to experience this type of abuse.

      You’re 100% correct about the behaviors narcissists typically engage in.

      I really appreciate your kind words. Yes, we will continue to publish content.

      We hope you continue to find it helpful!

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