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Money problems with your partner: Information booklet

Dealing with financial abuse

What is financial abuse?

I barely have enough money for food for me and the kids, but he eats out and shops whenever he wants.

He won’t let me drive or get a job.

Many people think of family violence as physical injury or emotional abuse. However, withholding money, controlling all the household spending or refusing to include you in financial decisions is often part of family violence and is called economic or financial abuse.

Unfortunately, many women do not have access to their finances in their relationship. Should the relationship break down, women often find themselves without any money or may not even know how much money they are entitled to.

Financial abuse is when your partner uses money, and other things that you might both own, to control you.

Your partner’s behaviour may include:

• Controlling your access to finances such as cash, bank accounts and benefits or pensions

• Refusing to contribute financially to you or the family

• Doing things that cost you or the family money; taking out loans and running up debts in your name

• Stopping you from working or studying.

The law in Victoria now states that financial abuse that includes such social and financially controlling behaviour is a form of family violence.

Women from all socio-economic and ethnic backgrounds with or without children can experience financial abuse. Controlling the money is a common aspect of family violence, and can happen to any woman regardless of her financial ability or knowledge. 

WIRE's information booklet, Money problems with your partner: dealing with financial abuse explores:

  • What is financial abuse?
  • How did you get here?
  • Getting back control of your money
  • Way your (ex-)partner can  hide money from you
  • Managing your money and debts
  • Finding advice, support and information.

Kindly funded by the Victoria Law Foundation.

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