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Spotting the signs of financial abuse by your partner

A 2017 survey finds that nearly three out of every four women age 18 to 35 have experienced financial abuse by their spouse or partner. Financial website CentSai interviewed 2,000 millennials, with 70% saying their partner used money to manipulate or control them.

Even more disturbing, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says one in four women will experience physical violence by their partner during their lifetime and usually before they turn 25. The CDC says nearly all those cases also involve financial abuse.

Recognizing the symptoms

Financial abuse can happen at any point in a relationship, and it’s not confined to women. Nearly half of the men in the survey said they had also experienced some form of mistreatment. Forms of financial abuse include:

  • Opening credit cards in your name without your approval
  • Ruining your credit by defaulting on accounts in your name
  • Taking out loans from family members and not paying them back
  • Hiding money from you
  • Sabotaging your career or refusing the let you have a job
  • Making you feel guilty for spending your own money
  • Restricting your access to accounts

Determine whether any patterns exist

Relationship experts say financial abuse isn’t usually a one-time event but a trend that escalates over time. If you confront your spouse, their reactions can speak volumes. Do they blame you? Do they make you feel bad for asking? Or, do they take responsibility and take steps to remedy the situation?

Take precautions to protect yourself

If your safety is an issue, contact a domestic violence hotline to get help in removing yourself from that environment. If there is no physical threat, start working on an exit strategy. Don’t confront your abuser before finding out where all your accounts are located and how you can access them. An experienced family law attorney here in Massachusetts can help protect you and your future by working on a plan to end financial abuse at the hands of your once-trusted partner.

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