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Financial Safety Planning

What is Financial Abuse?

  • Like physical abuse, financial abuse often begins subtly and progresses over time. Financial abuse occurs in nearly all cases of domestic violence, often trapping the victim in the relationship.

Examples of financial abuse include:

  • Abuser controlling how money is spent
  • Abuser makes all the financial decisions
  • Abuser withholding money or ‘giving an allowance’
  • Not allowing their partner to work, earn money, or go to school, including forbidding or sabotaging these efforts
  • Forcing their partner to work in an industry or location where they do not want to work
  • Abuser withholding basic living resources, including medication, food, etc.
  • Stealing money, identity, credit, property, etc., including forcing the victim to sign over assets or file fraudulent legal or tax documents
  • Destroying credit or credibility, including overusing credit or reporting they are ‘cheating’ to public benefits office


What does a healthy financial relationship look like?

  • Both partners have access to financial statements and information, although one partner might manage the finances
  • Couples feel safe to identify and voice when they have different values about money and negotiate financial goals
  • Both recognize and respect that decision-making is equal, regardless of who earns more income
  • Each partner can have access to money on their own
  • Both are knowledgeable about how money is spent


Safety and Finances

While in the relationship…

  • If safe, put extra income (no matter how small) in a private, separate account or hiding place.
  • Have a plan of what to do if savings is discovered

When leaving…

  • Consider taking at least half joint funds immediately upon leaving, 75% if leaving with children
  • Document how funds were spent as may be asked to account for expenditures at a later date
  • Open separate bank account
  • Change all direct deposits and account Personal Identification Numbers (PINs)


  • Think through all the Pros & Cons to disclosing abuse to employers, public benefits, and housing.
    • Depending on state laws and rules, there may be some protections for survivors; however, survivors may experience discrimination.


Protection Orders

  • Can remove abusive partner from the home and prohibit them from contact.
  • Can order temporary economic relief, including child/spousal support or mortgage/rent assistance. Although allowable, not all jurisdictions regularly use this protection.


Child Support

  • May be eligible to collect child support if there is at least one child under 18



Housing Search…

  • If a potential landlord requires a credit check, that inquiry indicating property owner name and location, may appear on renter’s credit report; inadvertently disclosing potential new address

Computer/Internet Safety…

  • Be cautious about completing applications online
  • Change all user name and passwords on all online accounts (banking, email, etc.)


  • If possible, have telephone calls screened
  • Consider all implications to disclosing to employer