Financial or economic abuse is a tactic that abusers use to gain power and control over someone else by controlling their partner’s ability to acquire, use, and grow financial resources. Financial abuse has serious impacts – it violates a person’s rights to freely make decisions, set boundaries, and give and take away consent in the relationship. Financial abuse is common, with up to 99% of adult domestic violence survivors reporting it in their relationships.
Despite this high prevalence, many people assume that teens do not experience financial abuse because they usually don’t share a home or bank accounts with their partner. This is not true. Financial abuse does happen in teen relationships as proven in a new ground-breaking survey on the topic.
- The survey reported that two-thirds of teen participants reported economic abuse by a dating partner.
- The survey also found that financial abuse is a common tactic used in teen relationships with other forms of abuse; over 80% of the teens who reported physical and sexual violence by a partner also reported financial abuse.
The study goes on to say, “Economic abuse is a significant aspect of teen dating violence and has harmful impacts on educational attainment and success, employment opportunities and independence.” The findings highlight the importance of talking about financial abuse with teens and incorporating examples of equal versus abusive economic dynamics when speaking with young people about healthy relationships and dating violence.
What Does Teen Financial Abuse Looks Like
Teen financial abuse can fall into three categories:
Sabotage: Preventing a partner from acquiring resources. This includes interference in school since education impacts one’s ability to get a job and grow financial resources.
Control: Controlling how a partner spends their money, including limiting their partner’s access to their own resources.
Exploitation: Using and stealing a partner’s resources or using resources to manipulate their partner’s individual choices and freedom.
If you are a teen, here are some warning signs of financial abuse:
- Your partner is bullying, pressuring, or threatening you to skip class or work, changing post-graduation plans, or miss school assignments and work shifts, often by saying that you don’t spend enough time together
- Your partner is showing up at your job, classes, or extra-curriculars to “keep an eye on you,” show others you’re taken, or to intimidate you – even after you’ve said to stop
- Your partner is trying to get you fired or sabotaging you with school and work by taking your car keys, damaging your laptop, ruining a school project, etc.
- Your partner is stealing money or credit cards, pressuring you to give them your money and/or access to your financial accounts, making you pay for everything on dates, or forcing you to spend money on them
- You feel pressured into sexual acts or other things you don’t want to do because your partner is holding gifts, money, or favors (like rides to school or work) over your head
- You feel trapped in a relationship you don’t want to be in because of how your partner is using money or resources against you
Everyone deserves the freedom to make their own choices and to set their own boundaries in their relationships. This includes decisions about money, work, and school. If you are experiencing financial sabotage, control, or exploitation in your own relationship, there is help available.
Call or text our 24/7 helpline at 866-685-1122 for information, supportive listening, services, and safety planning. More information can be found online at www.safe-sound.org.
See the Futures Without Violence 2022 Teen Economic Abuse survey for more information.