Nearly 70% of women age 18 to 35 report experiencing financial abuse at the hands of their partner, according to a survey by online financial advisor CentSai.

Financial abuse is defined in the study as when a romantic partner uses money to manipulate or gain power in a relationship, including by lying or hiding funds or debt.

What are the signs?

Financial abuse can be blatant or subtle and includes a partner who can’t keep a job or pay their share of bills or someone who makes their partner feel guilty over spending their own money. Other signs include:

  • Defaulting on a loan or account in your name ruining your credit
  • Opening credit cards in your name without your knowledge
  • Asking for or taking loans from your family members and not paying it back
  • Hiding money from you
  • Sabotaging your career or not allowing you to work

Look for patterns of abusive behavior

Like most forms of mistreatment, financial abuse usually isn’t a one-and-done act, but behavior that grows over time. The nonprofit One Love Foundation says offenders typically begin by adoring their partners but then begin to isolate them from their support network, making them dependent upon the abuser, which leads to emotional abuse, including manipulation and control.

Forming an exit plan

Experts say if the abuse turns physical, leave the relationship and get help immediately. However, if your safety is not a concern, get educated and devise a strategy. Learn where all your accounts are located and how to access them. If you approach them, share your concerns in a nonconfrontational manner.

Their reaction will be telling. Do they get upset and blame you or make you feel guilty for asking? Or, do they apologize and take the steps necessary to correct their behavior? If you avoid these conversations out of fear over how they will respond, experts say that could be a red flag.

Get help to remove yourself from an abusive relationship

Financial disputes are common reasons for couples filing for divorce. If you are in an abusive relationship, an experienced and compassionate family law attorney here in Kentucky will aggressively fight your rights and help you come up with a plan to make a fresh start.