Financial Abuse in Marriage

By: Helga Hayse
Anna Quindlen wrote a gripping novel a few years ago about a woman who tries to escape from her husband who is abusing her. Because her husband is a cop, she fears he will find her with the same techniques he uses in his detective work.

The case of Drew Peterson, a policeman in Bollingbrook, Illinois, is still under investigation in the disappearance of his fourth wife Stacy. His third wife, whose body was dug up for further testing, showed signs of homicide. Relatives of his previous wives tell police he abused them. Peterson says he loves his wife and pleads with her to return. Authorities have never located Stacy's body. No one has heard from her.

One of the earliest signs of future abusive behavior is financial control. A husband controls the purse strings, refusing to share financial information with his wife but expecting that she account for every choice and every penny spent.

Many women suffer in silence, telling themselves that their husband?s controlling behavior is a personality quirk.They may still have access to joint finances, reasonable mobility and buying choices. They are frustrated by their husband?s attitude and behavior, but they don?t live with a gnawing sense of fear.

Financial abuse is different.

It is behavior designed to isolate a woman into a state of complete financial dependence. The most important thing to remember about financial abuse is that the abuser is not out of control. He can, at the drop of a hat, change his behavior to suit the social circumstances. He can be charming and persuasive, but his objective is to isolate his partner and make her dependence on him total.He is deliberately choosing to control his partner?s behavior by cutting off her access to money, mobility and choice.

Financial abuse can often lead to physical abuse as well. It happens within all age ranges, educational levels, ethnic backgrounds, and financial levels. The rich socialite who lives in the largest house in the best neighborhood is as likely to be a victim of financial abuse as the poorest wife in the toughest section of town.

Where do you draw the line?

You may know someone whom you suspect is being financially abused and feel helpless. After her husband went on a physical rampage during an argument about money, a local socialite was rushed to the hosptial with multiple fractures. He is the CEO of one of the country?s largest financial institutions.

After a brief mention in the local newspaper, the story disappeared from all police reports and press archives. This incident is not unique; it happens more often than we realize.

On the other hand, you may not know that your neighbor, acquaintance or friend is a financial hostage because she won?t tell you. You may know her husband, and never suspect a thing. He?s not out of control or under the influence of drugs or alcohol. We might label his behavior difficult, eccentric or unpleasant, but we don?t intervene

The thing to remember about financial abuse is that it functions on a continuum of emotional, verbal and ultimately physical abuse. The abuser?s objective is control.

Signs of Financial Abuse

Controlling the finances.

Withholding money or credit cards.

Giving you an allowance.

Making you account for every penny you spend.

Stealing from you or taking your money.

using your assets for his personal benefit.

Withholding basic necessities (food, clothes, medications, shelter).

Preventing you from working or choosing your own career.

Sabotaging your job (making you miss work or calling constantly, etc.)

If something about your relationship with your husband or partner scares you and you need to talk, you can get help by contacting the following:

National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or go to Http://www.nrcdv.org .

http://feminist.org/911/crisis.html - This website lists the numbers and locations of domestic violence hotlines for the 50 states.
Finance
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