Financial abuse, also known as economic abuse, is a pattern of abuse that can be very common, but seems to be infrequently discussed or publicized. Most typically, financial abuse appears to be associated with elder abuse, but has also been found to occur in domestically violent relationships, as well as with at-risk adults. With domestic violence (DV), 99% of cases identified some form of financial abuse. When examining elder abuse, financial abuse occurred in upwards of 16% of cases, according to the National Center on Elder Abuse.
So what is financial abuse? In general terms, it is financial-based control and/or exploitation of a victim. This is a control over finances and other assets, whether the money is a joint fund or the victim’s own income. In the context of elder abuse, the National Council on Aging defines financial abuse (financial exploitation) as “the misuse or withholding of an older adult’s resource by another“, which can be identified by a sudden change in the victim’s financial situation. Financial exploitation can also occur with at-risk adults who aren’t necessarily elderly. In some instances, the victim may request that a 3rd party manage their income for them, and that 3rd party either takes that income for themselves, or won’t allow the victim to access their assets, as a means to control the victim. Other types of financial exploitation of elders and at-risk adults can be the perpetrator naming themselves as a benefactor or changing other legal financial documents without consent from the victim. These behaviors can also occur with DV, as well.
In DV cases, financial/economic abuse can take on many forms, committed with the goal of limiting a victim’s access to economic resources. Financial abuse can make it potentially more difficult to leave the abusive relationship, as the victim may not have the resources to seek legal aid, obtain their own home away from their abuser, or maintain the bills in their current home.
As with every abusive behavior, control is the overall goal. These patterns may limit the victim’s ability to meet their basic needs, and can make them less confident about reporting or leaving the abusive situation. With support, a victim may access the resources and tools to regain control over their life. Should you, a friend, or family member be a victim of financial abuse, don’t hesitate to reach out, because support is available. If you would like to know more about financial abuse, or are seeking resources to potentially stop or recover from financial abuse, AVRC staff is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
415 Colorado Avenue, La Junta, CO 81050
24 Hour Hotline: (719) 384-7764
TTY: (719) 384-1938
After Hours Colorado Relay dial 711 or 1-800-659-2656
DV financial abuse information provided by:
The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence
The National Network to End Domestic Violence
Elder financial abuse/exploitation information provided by:
The National Center on Elder Abuse
The National Council on Aging
AVRC is non-discriminatory agency regarding race, religion, color, gender, country of national origin, sexual orientation, mental health status, substance use or economic condition.