Season 2 | Episode 3
Feb 13, 2020

Total financial control

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Financial abuse features in 99% of domestic violence cases. This week on the show, we consider money as a means of control.

Content warning: This episode deals with domestic abuse and includes depictions of violence.

Angie didn’t realize how much control her husband had over her life until she was behind the wheel of her car, with her kids in the back, getting ready to leave him.

“Have the kids had lunch? I don’t even think they’ve eaten yet, I don’t have any money to feed them … How far can I get on a quarter tank of gas in this truck?” she said. “What am I gonna do? Where am I gonna go?”

Angie, whose last name is withheld to protect her privacy, didn’t manage to escape her husband’s physical and verbal abuse that day, because she had no access to her own money.

Financial abuse can take many forms, like applying pressure to spend or not spend, forging financial documents or keeping money from a partner. Broadly, it all comes back to control of someone else’s economic autonomy. In 99% of domestic violence cases, there is also financial abuse. While it’s extremely common, it’s normally harder to detect.

Early in their marriage, Angie’s husband had offered to take care of all of the finances for their household. Angie was okay with that because, growing up, that was the dynamic she saw in her own home. But her husband started scrutinizing every purchase she made and picking fights about money. He started bullying their children and beating Angie. Finally, he took away her debit card and required that she show him all her deposit slips.

It took Angie about a dozen attempts before she finally succeeded in leaving her husband. Today, we’ll look the steps Angie took to escape and how she’s rebuilding her family’s life.

You can also find more information about what financial abuse looks like here. If you or someone you know is dealing with domestic abuse or intimate partner violence, the National Domestic Violence Hotline has trained experts available 24/7 to assist. You can call them at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233). The website also has a live chat service.

Finally, don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter. You’ll get weekly notes from Reema, new stories from friends and listeners, and recommendations from the folks who make this show.

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