Understanding Financial Abuse

Understanding Financial Abuse

This project has a focus on domestic and family violence involving aspects of financial abuse. It involves people with lived experience sharing their insights in a safe, ethical and de-identified way to help improve our understanding of, and responses to, financial abuse.

By sharing their narratives we aim to reveal;

  • their resistance and responses,
  • the detail and complexity of the context in which the financial abuse occurred,
  • the deliberate nature of the abuse, and
  • the ways in which social, service and system responses were helpful, unhelpful or harmful.

By providing visibility of the broader context of financial abuse, other individuals, communities, organisations and businesses can:

  1. better understand the role they are playing in experiences of financial abuse,
  2. clarify perpetrators’ responsibility, and
  3. improve responses to people experiencing, or rebuilding from, financial abuse.


This project is focused on domestic financial abuse; that which occurs in the context of an intimate partner relationship. Financial abuse is a common aspect of domestic and family violence. An offender may be financially abusive with or without also being physically abusive. Financial abuse can continue, or start, post-separation.

Find out more about participating in Insight Exchange. 

What is financial abuse?

The terms financial and economic abuse are often used interchangeably. Economic abuse is a form of family violence that:

“… involves behaviors that control a [person’s] ability to acquire, use and maintain economic resources, thus threatening her [or his] economic security and potential for self-sufficiency.”

Economic abuse includes a range of behaviours carried out by a perpetrator such as:

  • controlling a victim’s access to cash and bank accounts
  • hiding financial information and assets
  • sabotaging study and/or employment opportunities
  • forcing a partner to take out debt, and
  • manipulating finances to avoid or reduce child support payments.

Adams, A. (2008). 'Development of the Scale of Economic Abuse'. Violence Against Women, 14, 563-588.

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