Financial abuse is a form of abuse that often goes hand in hand with other abuses. It’s also an all too common form of elder abuse. Anyone who is frail, sick, in an institution or unable to handle their own finances completely and with understanding, is vulnerable to financial abuse.
Frequently, financial abuse is a part of domestic abuse, being employed as a way of controlling the victim and preventing her from being able to escape the abusive relationship.
Financial abuse is often a part of another abuse such as domestic violence or emotional/psychological abuse or even bullying. It can result from drug or alcohol addictions too.
What is Financial Abuse?
Financial abuse is any abuse involving money. It can be perpetrated by an individual or an organisation. If someone forces you to take money from your account to give to them, takes money from you, pressures you into giving them money, borrows from you and refuses to repay the loan, forces you to sign something without explaining the full implications or allowing you to read the small print, takes your benefits or charges for services you have not received or requested, it is financial abuse.
Financial abuse can also involve cowboy traders who undertake work and leave a substandard job after receiving payment.
Financial abuse in domestic abuse/domestic violence
This is when an abusive partner restricts or controls the victim’s access to their own money or means of earning money in order to exert further control in the relationship.
It is common in cases of domestic violence as it is a very successful means of destroying the victim’s chances of escaping the abusive situation and isolating them from possible sources of help.
Financial abuse of an elder in the home
Older people are ever vulnerable to financial abuse in a variety of situations. In the home, they become reliant on the younger members of the family for many aspects of their lives, including the care of their finances. It is very easy for an unscrupulous adult child or partner of an adult child to pressure the older person to use their financial resources in a certain way that may not be in their best interests but, rather, in a way that favors the abuser.
An elderly person may be persuaded to sign a power of attorney that allows the abuser to control all her legal and financial affairs.
Financial abuse of an elder or disabled person in care
This type of abuse occurs when an elder or other vulnerable person is in residential care. A member of the care home staff may befriend the person and cajole them into parting with their money, to signing financial documents that they do not fully understand, or even to changing their will to benefit the abuser.
Financial abuse by a tradesperson or stranger
A different form of financial abuse may be perpetrated by a tradesman. Typically, this type of person targets the vulnerable, such as the elderly or lone women. They will offer to do what they claim is essential work on the person’s home, or perhaps on their car, and take a large amount of money upfront. The work is then left uncompleted, or completed in a substandard fashion.
Financial abuse resulting from addictions
If a person is addicted to something, be it drugs, alcohol, other substances or gambling, he or she has an overriding desire to feed the addiction. This can result in them misappropriating money from family and friends in order to satisfy the need to indulge in the addiction. This type of financial abuse is commonly found in young, dating couples as well as within a family setting.
The addict may steal money or belongings by stealth, or by coercing the victim into handing over cash, credit cards, and bank books.
Financial abuse in bullying
Bullies in the school yard or other settings in which young children or people are placed together are also sometimes guilty of financial abuse. A school yard bully might force his victim to hand over lunch money or money he has been given to pay for a sports club or school trip.
As the victim is often afraid to report the bullying this type of financial abuse can go undetected for some time. If questioned by a parent or teacher, the bullied child claims to have ‘lost’ the money, or even to have spent it themselves on sweets or something else plausible.
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Other related source: Cooperative Bank UK