Understanding Financial Abuse

closeup of woman's hands holding a wallet with no money inside

98% of domestic violence cases involve financial abuse, yet 78% of the population doesn’t recognize this form of abuse (1).

So, what is financial abuse? Financial abuse is controlling a partner’s ability to access, acquire, use or maintain economic resources (1). Financial abuse is often a main reason survivors stay in relationships where other forms of domestic violence are present – leaving could lead to homelessness (2).

Common tactics of financial abuse, according to the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence (PCAR), are:

  • Withholding money
  • Not allowing a partner to access bank accounts
  • Hiding or lying about joint assets
  • Preventing ownership or access to a vehicle/transportation
  • Forbidding a partner to work or earn an income
  • Causing a partner to lose their job (could be sabotage, harassment, physical harm)
  • Forging a partner’s signature or taking out credit in a partner’s name
  • Racking up debt in a partner’s name
  • Forcing a partner to write bad checks 

These are just some of the many forms financial abuse can take. For a more comprehensive list, visit PCAR.

Financial abuse doesn’t stop when someone leaves a relationship. It can have a long-lasting impact on a survivor’s immediate and long-term independence. Without assets, survivors have few options to provide for themselves or their families. Too many survivors have to continue living in fear, and when they can safely leave, they often face overwhelming barriers to finding security and safety. If their credit has been destroyed or is nonexistent, getting approved for rent, or buying a car, can be impossible. If they were forced into fraudulent activities, that could impact employment options. (3)

The impact can be devastating.

At MCVP, we work to support survivors experiencing financial abuse; this is where our Economic Justice Fund comes in. It helps survivors reclaim their independence by providing immediate financial assistance.

The fund supports everything from security deposits and rent, gas and grocery cards, car repairs, utility bills, and medical expenses to transportation costs – flights and buses to flee, taxis to make appointments, and unexpected expenses incurred from continued violence.

This fund helps survivors when no other resources are available. If you or someone you know is experiencing financial abuse, please don’t hesitate to contact an advocate. To qualify for the program, survivors will go through a brief screening process. If a survivor does not qualify or if the need is not immediate, survivors will be referred to alternative programs.

To help MCVP continue with this critical service, please consider donating during NH Gives, June 7 – 8, 2022. Bookmark the page here.

MCVP advocates are available 24/7 at (603) 352-3782 or toll-free at 1 (888) 511- 6287.


1. Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence (2022) Financial Abuse. 

2. National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (nd) What Is Economic Abuse? 

3. National Network to End Domestic Violence (nd). About Financial Abuse.

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