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To wonder: what exactly is financial abuse and is it actually illegal?

(16 Posts)
fedthefuckupnowwhat Fri 21-Mar-14 16:30:44

Does the absence of a joint account when you are married and have DC automatically mean financial abuse? Does being a bit stingy and tight mean financial abuse? Where is the line?

NewtRipley Fri 21-Mar-14 16:33:40

Financial Abuse - definition by Women's Aid

BertieBotts Fri 21-Mar-14 16:36:36

It's illegal yes because it comes under the heading of domestic abuse. However it's one of the kinds of abuse which is more difficult to "prove" in terms of getting a conviction.

I would say the line is when the money is being used to control the other partner and it is affecting their ability to live a normal life, for example a stay at home mum whose access to money is restricted = financial abuse. But not subbing your partner who doesn't work through choice and could support themselves if they wanted to = not abuse.

BertieBotts Fri 21-Mar-14 16:38:33

Partner who is good with money taking control over family finances to prevent partner who is bad with money from whittling it all away = usually not abuse (especially if mutually agreed; it may be abusive if not mutually agreed, or if the "bad with money" is a perception that the abusive partner has but which is not true in reality, ie used as an excuse.)

fedthefuckupnowwhat Fri 21-Mar-14 16:42:37

BertieBotts which law does it break?

a stay at home mum whose access to money is restricted = financial abuse.

What about those SAHMs (I know many) who are given a monthly 'allowance' but that's it?

NewtRipley Fri 21-Mar-14 16:47:28

Presumably that allowance is negotiated.

However, I think there's much more financial abuse going on that we realise - there's more abuse of all sorts, maybe even amongst your friends (I know there is amongst mine).

I personally don't understand marriages where there is no joint account.

MammaTJ Fri 21-Mar-14 16:52:54

Partner who is good with money taking control over family finances to prevent partner who is bad with money from whittling it all away = usually not abuse

Thank goodness for that. I control the money in our house. DP, bless him, sees an amount in our bank accounts as a challenge to see how quickly it can be spent. I see it more as a challenge to make it last to the end of the month. He usually has no clue how much we have, as I try to fudge the issue.

I am the only one who has access to our online banking. I shift money between accounts.

There is a joint account, but all our money is not necessarily in that account.

I need to make sure there is money to last the month. He wouldn't. then he would expect me to pull money out of my arse or something for some essential thing or food.

BertieBotts Fri 21-Mar-14 16:58:15

If the allowance is reasonable and negotiable then I expect it would be fine. If the allowance is too small and/or she feels she can't question or negotiate it because of fear of verbal/emotional abuse or violence then it would be considered abusive.

The law is not specific as it's based on "balance of harm" - but you can argue that a victim's physical or mental health is compromised by lack of access to money.

Newt is right though that generally where financial abuse exists there is very likely to be other types of abuse too. In fact I very strongly believe that all abuse stems from emotional abuse/control and any manifestation - physical, sexual, verbal, financial, is just a mechanism for this control which is why it is imperative to not place more importance on the more visible forms of abuse such as physical violence.

This is the Women's Aid information on current law relating to DV in the UK

BertieBotts Fri 21-Mar-14 17:01:40

And I don't mean if it's too small because there isn't any more money available - clearly that isn't abusive, it's just circumstances. Hopefully that was obvious, though. I meant more the type of situation where she doesn't have enough money to buy herself essentials such as bras or deodorant (had a friend in this situation sad ) while her husband has money to spend on non-essentials.

CMOTDibbler Fri 21-Mar-14 17:09:11

I have a friend whose spouse took over all the financials, ostensibly to manage the money better - no access for the other to any of it apart from an amount given each month.
This didn't even cover their monthly petrol cost to work, and bought no new clothes for over 5 years. Nothing.

Turned out spouse had racked up massive debts, had been spending on gym, nights out, etc. So my friend was definatly a subject of financial abuse.

He was also emotionally abused, and both will have a very long term effect on him.

Its about control and the value you place on the other person rather than money itself. If one partner always has to ask for money and the other partner chooses whether or not they can have it then that can be abusive. If one partner has plenty of disposable income and the other is kept short of money that can be abusive. If money is used as a means of limiting your partners actions and choices e.g. can't meet up with friends because they can't pay for the bus or a couple of drinks then that is abusive.

Living on a tight budget that has been mutually agreed is fine if both partners have the same disposable income. One partner imposing restrictions on the other starts to become more questionable.

shouldnthavesaid Fri 21-Mar-14 17:20:58

It depends on the allowance or the way it's managed. In 1993/1994 my father allowed my mum £100 a month non negotiable, to be spent on what he allowed only. That money was for food, clothing, transport, leisure, school equipment, medicines, etc etc.

I won't write lots of details but I didn't try fresh food until I was about 8. We couldn't afford it. I didn't get brand new clothing until a similar age. Prior to that the lot came from social services. I did not realise shampoo and bubble bath came in different scents and colours - I was brought up with white red and blue tesco bottles of everything.

My father had at the time a top of range PC, pager, mobile phone, sky digital, basic internet, answering machine with phone hold system, car, caravan, boat. Because he didn't put his money into the 'pot' as it were (the 100 was mums 'invalidity payment') he was able to have a very good standard of living for himself.

He did buy holidays in the UK - we had one absolutely wonderful holiday, as odd as it might sound, and he bought my sister and I some toys for Christmas.

It was all very controlling - from the outside, we looked like we had money to due what was parked out front which stopped people, literally, from getting too involved. He had my mum on a strict routine with money and she had to ask for it - like he was a bank manager or something crazy like that. Very much one in charge of the other.

It wasn't isolated either - my father was also sexually, physically and emotionally abusive. Like PPs have said it probably all ties together.

If however my father had taken control of the finances with negotiable, mutual agreements - and if he'd allowed us to have normal food, toiletries etc and not spent all his money on himself, he wouldn't have been financially abusive, I think.

BertieBotts Fri 21-Mar-14 17:22:25

Exactly shouldnthavesaid. Sorry your mother (and you and your sister) had to go through that sad

nobbysnuts Fri 21-Mar-14 17:33:04

I'm a sahm with a monthly allowance, and we don't have a joint account, but the amount I get is pretty high and meets my needs for essential spending, frivolous things and I usually have some left over as well. I know a lot of women wouldn't be happy with that arrangement but it suits me. The reason for no joint account is because there are specific reasons not to have our finances linked on paper - DH would be fine with a joint account if I insisted, but it's easier not to have the extra hassle.

DH does have more access to money than I do, but it's basically the surplus that he puts away towards savings/investments/mortgage, as he deals with all the big expenses.

shouldnthavesaid Fri 21-Mar-14 18:18:16

flowers Bertie

To be honest at the time I didn't know any different and so I didn't know what I was missing, if that makes sense.

That said - I realise now that the food we were eating was disgusting (I thought all bread tasted of vinegar, and all yogurts left a film on your teeth - I got a shock when my mum first bought hovis bread and muller yogurts) and unhealthy. Doesn't exactly make you ill but I was skinny, always had a snotty nose and had a terrible immune system.

It's not so much the material effects though as the way it can damage a person - my mum had grown up in a working household, trained chef, and must have been battered down by my father (not so much literally) to a point where she just didn't care. It's not the lack of good food that matters so much as the way that person is just completely under someone else's control. No confidence in themselves, questioning everything, like a small child utterly dependant on a parent.

fedthefuckupnowwhat Fri 21-Mar-14 23:17:02

nobbysnuts Why would it look bad if your finances were linked on paper?

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