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Domestic Abuse: He's Holding You Hostage by Controlling the Money

If you are in an abusive relationship, it's virtually certain that you are suffering financial abuse.

Photo of money and handcuffs which represents the financial abuse that almost always accompanies a domestic abusive relationship. The caption on the photo says Financial Abuse: What to Look For with the subtitle Being Held Hostage in an Abusive Relationship
Financial abuse is almost always present in abusive relationships. What to look for and how to escape.

Here's something that we don't usually hear about, but is a massive problem:

Financial abuse occurs in up to 98% of abusive relationships and is one of the top reasons that it is difficult for people to leave.

Big thanks to Jullieth Cragwell, Outreach Coordinator at for contacting us and providing some resources.

Types of Financial Abuse

  • Taking control of the finances away from you. Think about this -- it is a powerful control mechanism to keep you from leaving.

  • Putting you on an allowance so you don't have access to your money. He might couch this as "protecting" you or "relieving" from the stress of managing the finances.

  • Draining your resources with reckless spending on gambling, drugs, or 'mysterious' activities. I met a divorced woman that described her ex's out-of-control spending on "collectibles" like action figures and model cars. I wondered how someone could possibly spend that much money on these kinds of activities, but one possible answer is that the collectibles spending is a cover for other betrayals such as a mistress, drugs, or gambling.

  • Outright stealing money from you. Then he gaslights you trying to convince you that you've made a mistake, you are always blaming him, how he doesn't deserve this kind of accusations, etc.

We mostly talk about physical and emotional abuse, but we don't often talk about the financial abuse. And yet, it's a huge problem and a giant red flag. According to the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence, financial abuse occurs in 98% of abusive relationships and plays a huge role in preventing victims from escaping those situations.

Below is a link to an online guide from which covers:

- What financial abuse is

- The warning signs

- Ways to tell if someone is being financially abused

- Helpful resources and more

If you recognize this type of financial abuse in your relationship, please go to the resources above from yourself on how to reach out for help while developing an exit strategy. If you recognize this type of financial abuse in someone else's relationship, please reach out to them and offer your help and these resources so they may escape from the abusive relationship.

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