Forms of Family Violence – Financial Abuse

Domestic or family violence is most often associated with physical, verbal, or violent abuse, characterised by outward aggression. But there are many other forms of domestic or family violence that individuals can be subjected to, sometimes without even knowing.

Financial abuse is often described as a “hidden” form of domestic or family violence, camouflaged by its subtle occurrence. This hidden nature, does not however, diminish the impact nor the prevalence of financial abuse in our society.

A recent study undertaken by the Australian Bureau of Statistics revealed that 15.7% of women and 7.1% of men had experienced economic or financial abuse in their lifetimes. The study also found that 63% of women who were experiencing high financial stress and 24% of women with a disability or long-term health condition had a history of economic abuse, compared to the population average of 15.7%.

What is financial abuse?

Financial or economic abuse is a form of domestic violence. Domestic or family violence is more than physical violence, and extends to include any form of violence, abuse or intimidation between people who are, or have been, in an intimate relationship. Domestic or family violence is characterised by the use of these things to control and dominate another person.

Financial abuse occurs between intimate partners when one controls or manipulates the other person’s access to finances, assets and decision-making to create dependence and control. Examples of financial abuse include:

  • Restricting access to bank accounts
  • Completely controlling finances and money
  • Forbidding a partner to work
  • Taking a partner’s pay and not allowing them to access it
  • Providing an inadequate allowance or monitoring what a partner spends money on
  • Preventing a partner from getting to work by taking their keys or car
  • Using a partner’s credit card without their permission.

The effect of financial abuse is that the victim becomes increasingly isolated and completely dependent upon their partner, often preventing them from leaving the relationship.

What can I do if I am a victim of financial abuse?

If you are planning to leave your partner and believe you are the victim of any form of domestic or family violence, it is important to make every attempt to plan an exit strategy before you leave. This strategy should take into account your support networks, your financial assistance, and your physical protection.

The following organisations can provide assistance if you find yourself in a situation of family violence:

If you need advice regarding separation, or are concerned that you are a victim of financial abuse, please contact one of our team members on 03 9070 9839 or

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