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Holiday Financial Abuse

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year
For some, the holidays are the most wonderful time of the year. In reality, the holidays can be anything but fun, warm and fuzzy. For many, the holidays serve to create stress about finances and worry about the hopes and dreams of children coming true. In abusive relationships, it can be the most difficult time of year.

What is Financial Abuse?
Financial abuse happens when a partner takes control over their partner’s finances without their consent and/or convinces their partner that they have good intentions - to pay bills and save money. However, even with consent, an intimate partner who takes control of their partner’s finances ultimately has control over making financial decisions that undermine their partner’s well-being. Financial abuse is just one tactic of domestic violence.

Financially abusive behaviors can include when a partner:

  • refuses to provide money for necessary expenses such as food, clothing, transportation, medical care, or medicine.
  • lies about how shared money is spent.
  • living in your home but refusing to work or contribute toward the household.
  • keeps your paycheck or per capita payments.
  • steals money from you, your relatives or your friends.
  • withdrawing money from children’s savings accounts without your permission.

Making It Difficult to Leave an Abusive Relationship
Since domestic violence is about power and control, financial abuse can be used to make leaving more difficult and in extreme cases, nearly impossible to leave an abusive relationship. When leaving is still an option, the abuser may even go to greater lengths to prevent their victim from leaving.

More extreme forms of financial abuse can include:

  • preventing you from working, limiting the hours that you can work, getting you fired, or forcing you to work certain types of jobs.
  • providing an allowance and closely monitoring how you spend it, including demanding receipts for purchases.
  • intentionally damages your credit, maxes out your credit cards without permission, not paying credit card bills, writing bad checks or taking out loans in your name without your knowledge.
  • forcing you to provide them with your tax returns or confiscating joint tax returns.
  • depositing your paycheck into an account you can’t access.
  • hiding money, accounts and financial information preventing you from viewing or accessing bank accounts.

Holiday Stress
Around the holidays, financial abuse may look a little different. The additional stress of the holidays may affect your decisions. You may try to keep the peace through the holidays while your abusive partner continues using abusive tactics like:

  • trying to manipulate you into overspending or buying a gift you can’t afford
  • keeping your holiday bonus from you
  • making you feel guilty for purchasing gifts for relatives and friends
  • spending all of the money on gifts for their friends and relatives
  • not letting you donate to organizations or causes you care about
  • making you get a second job to pay for increased expenses around the holidays
  • signing up for store credit cards to pay for gifts but doesn’t tell you
  • taking money out of children’s personal savings
  • buying you an expensive gift and you don’t know how they could afford it
  • buying you a gift and it goes missing because they returned it
  • telling you there is no money to participate in your holiday activities like work parties
  • not allowing you to have money for seasonal cultural activities, materials and classes like snowshoe-making

If these sound familiar to you, you are not alone. StrongHearts Native Helpline takes calls from everyone. If you or a loved one is being hurt by an abusive partner, or you are hurting your partner, StrongHearts advocates are available 24 hours a day seven days a week.

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