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Early Signs of Financial Abuse

March 22, 2024

As a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst (CDFA®), my focus on divorce stems from a deep-seated desire to be an advocate for women navigating the most challenging period of their lives.

My commitment to this cause stems from a realization that financial abuse, a prevalent yet often overlooked form of domestic violence, leaves deep scars on its survivors. It's a silent epidemic I'm determined to combat by empowering women with the knowledge to recognize its early signs and the courage to seek help.


The Subtle Onset of Financial Abuse

Financial abuse doesn't always start with overt actions; it often begins subtly, making it difficult to recognize until the situation has escalated. Understanding these early warning signs is crucial for early intervention and prevention. Here are some indicators that should not be ignored:

  • Overly Controlling Financial Behaviors: If your partner insists on controlling all financial decisions, including how and when money is spent, even if it concerns your personal expenses, it's a red flag. Financial autonomy is a basic right; being denied autonomy is a form of abuse.
  • Denial of Access to Bank Accounts or Financial Information: When one partner is kept in the dark about financial matters or does not have access to joint accounts, it's a control tactic designed to create dependency.
  • Unilateral Financial Decisions: If your partner makes significant financial decisions—such as taking out loans or investing large sums of money—without your input or consent, it undermines the partnership and your financial security.
  • Sabotage of Employment or Educational Opportunities: Actions that prevent you from working or furthering your education, such as causing scenes at your workplace or discouraging you from attending classes, are aimed at economically weakening you.
  • Rationing Money or Enforcing an Allowance: When an adult is given an allowance or has to justify essential purchases, it's not only demeaning but a clear sign of financial control.


The Importance of Early Recognition

Recognizing the early signs of financial abuse is the first step towards financial independence. It's about identifying the red flags before they become insurmountable barriers. This knowledge empowers women to seek help sooner, potentially averting more severe consequences. My role as a CDFA® goes beyond managing finances; it's about educating, supporting, and advocating for those who might feel isolated and powerless.

My decision to become a CDFA® was fueled by stories of women who, often unbeknownst to them, were victims of financial abuse. Witnessing the profound impact of this abuse on their financial independence, self-esteem, and future prospects moved me deeply. I realized that the financial and emotional wounds could last a lifetime if not addressed with experience and empathy. My goal was to be more than a financial advisor; I wanted to be a source of hope, guiding women out of the abuse and into the light of independence and empowerment.

Awareness is a powerful tool in combating financial abuse. We can protect ourselves from it by understanding its early signs. However, recognizing the signs is just the beginning. It's equally important to know that support is available, from financial advisors to legal aid and support groups. Let me say this to you: you're not alone in this journey. 

I offer more than just financial guidance; my goal is to provide a lifeline to those feeling trapped in abusive situations. If you or someone you know is showing signs of financial abuse, I urge you to reach out. We can navigate the path to financial independence and reclaim the financial independence and dignity that every woman deserves.

This mission is personal. It's not just about numbers and budgets; it's about changing lives, one woman at a time. Let's start this journey together with the knowledge and courage to stand against financial abuse and build a brighter, more empowered future.

Material discussed is meant for general informational purposes only and is not to be construed as tax, legal, or investment advice. Although the information has been gathered from sources believed to be reliable, please note that individual situations can vary. Therefore, the information should be relied upon only when coordinated with individual professional advice.