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Many people think of domestic and family violence as physical or emotional abuse. However, it also includes financial abuse and there are key warning signs someone is at risk.
Financial abuse is when someone takes away someone’s access to money, manipulates their financial decisions, or uses their money without consent.1
It occurs when someone uses money or things relating to money to hurt, scare or control someone.
Financial abuse can be perpetrated against anyone, no matter how old someone is, how much money they have, or how educated they are.
It can leave a person feeling vulnerable, isolated, depressed and anxious. It can also take away their independence.
Statistics reveal more than 623,000 women and men were subject to financial abuse in Australia in 2020. Nearly 1 in 30 women were subjected to financial abuse compared to around 1 in 50 men. The collective costs to the victims and to the economy was almost $11 billion.2
Financial abuse may happen alongside other types of violence, such as physical or emotional abuse, but not always.
It may be difficult to see warning signs of financial abuse as it may vary from a person manipulating and controlling someone’s money, stopping them from getting a job or forcing them to get loans they don't want.
Domestic and family violence crisis support service DVConnect says some warning signs that someone is in a financially abusive relationship may include one person:
QSuper is proud to have a three-year partnership with domestic violence hotline, DVConnect – the leading state-wide crisis response service that operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The partnership involves QSuper funding an additional full-time telephone support officer to answer up to 4,000 more calls annually from Queenslanders in need of support.
DV Connect: www.dvconnect.org | 1800 811 811
Research by the Women’s Information and Referral Exchange Inc3 in Victoria, that included interviews with more than 200 Australian women who suffered financial abuse, found some common ways partners and former partners perpetrated financial abuse.
It also found the abuse didn’t stop once a relationship did – many ex-partners deliberately used the legal, child support and income support systems to cause long term financial hardship and psychological distress long after a relationship ended.
Some financially abusive behaviours that were identified included controlling a family member’s money, limiting their access to money, or stopping a family member from earning their own money.
Stopping a family member from getting a job or going to work, preventing them from making it to work or important meetings, stalking or harassing their partners colleagues, taking control of a partner’s pay and putting them on an allowance, or stopping a family member from studying were also methods of financial abuse.
If you feel you’re in a financial abuse situation, or if you believe someone you know is affected, there are many strategies available. It’s best to speak with an organisation like DVConnect who can offer the support and assistance needed.
You can call the DVConnect hotlines on
1800 811 811 for women
1800 600 636 for men
The opinions expressed and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Trustee. No responsibility is taken for the accuracy of any of the information supplied and you should seek advice for your circumstances.
1. ASIC, MoneySmart, Financial abuse: protect yourself and your money, accessed 23 October 2020, at www.moneysmart.gov.au/financial-abuse
2. The cost of financial abuse in Australia Commonwealth Bank of Australia 2022 report, Deloitte Access Economics, accessed 25 August 2022
3. WIRE, 2014, Relationship problems and money: Women talk about financial abuse, accessed 23 October 2020 at www.wire.org.au
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