The dark side of love: How financial abuse affects both parties

Financial abuse in relationships is a growing concern in the UK, and the current cost of living crisis is exacerbating this problem.


Financial abuse occurs when one partner in a relationship controls the other's finances or uses money to control their behaviour. This can take many forms, including withholding money, stealing money, coercing their partner into signing financial documents, and even sabotaging their partner's career.

Unfortunately, financial abuse is often overlooked or misunderstood, and many people do not realise that they are experiencing financial abuse until it has escalated to a dangerous level. Therefore, it is essential to understand the signs of financial abuse and how it can impact both parties in a relationship.

One of the most obvious signs of financial abuse is when one partner controls all the finances in the relationship. This can include managing all the bank accounts, credit cards, and bills, and refusing to let the other partner have access to any financial information. In extreme cases, the abuser may even demand that the victim hand over their paychecks or credit cards.

Another sign of financial abuse is when the abuser constantly belittles the other partner for their spending habits or financial decisions. This can include criticising them for small purchases or making them feel guilty for spending money on themselves. The abuser may also refuse to contribute to shared expenses, leaving the victim to shoulder the burden of all household bills.

Financial abuse can also involve sabotaging a partner's career or job prospects. The abuser may pressure their partner to quit their job, refuse to let them work, or even sabotage job interviews and opportunities. This can leave the victim feeling powerless and dependent on their abuser.

The cost of living crisis is making financial abuse more common, as many people are struggling to make ends meet. The rising cost of essentials such as food, housing, and utilities means that many families are facing financial hardship. In some cases, this can lead to one partner taking control of the family's finances to try and make ends meet. However, this can quickly spiral into financial abuse if the abuser starts using money as a tool of control.

Relationship counselling can be an effective way to address financial abuse in a relationship. Counselling can help both parties understand the impact of financial abuse and work towards a solution that benefits both partners. The victim may also benefit from individual therapy to help them rebuild their confidence and self-esteem.

During counselling sessions, both parties can discuss their financial concerns and come up with a plan for managing their finances in a way that is fair and equitable. This may involve setting up a joint bank account, agreeing on a budget, and dividing household expenses fairly. The abuser may also benefit from learning about healthy financial boundaries and strategies for managing their own spending habits.

It is important to note that financial abuse is a form of domestic violence and can have serious consequences for both the victim and the abuser. Victims of financial abuse may suffer from anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues as a result of the abuse. They may also struggle to rebuild their financial independence and regain control over their lives.

Financial abuse can have serious consequences for both the controller and the victim in a relationship.

For the victim, financial abuse can lead to a loss of financial independence and control, which can negatively impact their self-esteem and confidence. Victims of financial abuse may feel trapped and helpless, as they may not have access to funds to leave the relationship or support themselves. This can lead to feelings of anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues.

Financial abuse can also lead to physical and emotional abuse. In some cases, abusers may use money as a tool of control to coerce their partner into doing things they do not want to do or engaging in sexual activity against their will. This can lead to further trauma and harm to the victim.

For the controller, financial abuse can lead to legal and financial consequences. In some cases, financial abuse can be considered a form of domestic violence and can lead to criminal charges. Additionally, financial abuse can impact their credit rating and financial future, especially if they have accumulated debt or engaged in fraudulent behaviour.

Moreover, financial abuse can harm the controller's relationship with their partner, as it erodes trust and can lead to resentment and bitterness. It can also impact their relationship with their children and extended family, as financial abuse can cause significant stress and tension within the family unit.

Overall, financial abuse has far-reaching consequences for both the controller and the victim. It is crucial to seek help as soon as possible if you suspect that you or someone you know is experiencing financial abuse in a relationship.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Counselling Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Wantage OX12 & Rickmansworth WD3
Written by Hope Therapy & Counselling Services, Offering Counselling, CBT, Hypnotherapy, EMDR & Mindfulness.
Wantage OX12 & Rickmansworth WD3

Ian Stockbridge is the founder and lead counsellor at Hope Therapy and Counselling Services. 

As an experienced Counsellor, Ian recognised a huge societal need for therapeutic services that were often not being met. As such the 'Hope Agency'was born and its counselling team now offers counselling and therapeutic support throughout the UK.

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