Financial Bullying: A New Form Of Abuse In Relationships

Bullying doesn't just happen with words or punches. There's a new way that couples are bullying each other and it involves using money as a weapon. If you are being bullied financially there are steps, so you can take back control of your money.

Maxine Browne is thrilled to be in charge of her money because for years she was bullied financially.

"I had no access to money whatsoever," says Maxine Browne.

She says her husband controlled all their cash and credit cards. Browne adds his money monitoring started slowly.

"When you get married, you add this person to your accounts," says Browne, "So that's what I did. Then he said, "I can do the banking for you."

Eventually, she says her husband took over everything. Browne couldn't buy groceries without him and she had to tell him how much gas she had in her car.

"When you control all of the money you really do control the movement of everyone in the household," she says.

A Credit Karma survey shows Browne isn't alone. One in ten people classified their significant other as a "financial bully."

Relationship therapist Rachel Sussman, who consulted on the survey, says fighting over money is normal, but bullying is destructive.

"I've seen several instances where the bully, who is generally a very insecure person, tries to trap their partner in the relationship by taking away all their power around money," says therapist Rachel Sussman.

So, how do you recognize a financial bully? Sussman says to look out for warning signs such as, your partner limiting your spending or your access to credit cards, or refuses to let you go shopping alone.

Financial Planner Kathleen Sachs says couples should have a good understanding of their money.

"If I ask you how is your financial health and you say to me, "I have no idea my spouse is in charge of that," "You have put yourself at risk," says Financial Planner Kathleen Sachs.

If something happens to your partner, or you split up, you'll be at a huge financial disadvantage. Sachs warns make sure you always know your financial basics, like: what bills are owed each month, how much debt you owe, and how to access the bank and retirement accounts. Experts say if you don't know the answers, or feel like you're being bullied, speak up.

"There's a lot power in communication and even saying to your partner, "I won't take this anymore." "You know if that produces good results, great. If it doesn't, get some counseling and if that doesn't work get out of the relationship," says Sachs.

Financially bullying is considered to be a form of emotional abuse. If you would like to find out if you're in a relationship with a financial bully click here.