You pay out money each month for the regularities of living life – mortgage, groceries, utilities. But somewhere along the way, there is not enough money at the end of the month. Payments are late, and credit card companies are threatening you with collection proceedings.
Your paycheck goes in the bank, and your spouse handles the bills. So, where is the money going? Your spouse always takes care of you financially. Why should you question it?
What is financial abuse?
Financial abuse occurs when a person holds control and power over another by limiting or preventing access to assets. The abuser’s goal is to have the victim become dependent on him or her. The victim, in turn, may become scared to leave because of a lack of financial resources or the possibility of physical harm.
Signs of financial abuse
The signs may not be easily identifiable if you have lived this way since the beginning of the relationship. Signs could include the following:
- He or she pays all the bills
- The abuser manages all the financial accounts
- You do not have access to bank accounts
- You get an allowance
- All purchases you make need an explanation
- The abuser demands you quit your job, and you are never allowed to work
- He or she applies for credit cards in your name without your knowledge
- The abuser threatens to cut you off financially
- He or she uses verbal or physical abuse when you disobey the rules
- You have to ask for permission before you buy anything
Financial abuse is not illegal, and there is no specific wording for it in the Illinois Domestic Violence Act. However, the definition includes harassment and interference of personal liberty.
If you find the courage to leave the relationship, you may be able to use domestic violence as grounds for divorce. You will need to provide evidence to establish this, but an experienced divorce attorney may be able to use resources to investigate your claims and find the money owed to you.