13 Aug 2019

A light has recently been shone on the concept of financial abuse with the Australian Banking Association’s (ABA) new Banking Code of Practice focusing on a duty of care to those working with clients who are potentially vulnerable or at risk to financial abuse.

In short, financial abuse can be defined as a victim having limited or no ability to access, acquire and maintain financial resources. As every scenario is different and some forms of abuse subtle, it often goes unnoticed or unreported with the victim feeling powerless to stop the abuse continuing.

Some of the more common forms of financial abuse include but are not limited to:

  • A victim having their money stolen, restricted and limited or to having no access to other resources.
  • High level scrutiny of the victims spending.
  • Forcing a victim to claim social security benefits like Centrelink
  • Making a family member go guarantor on a loan or take out a loan in their name.
  • Making the victim take out a credit card.
  • Forcing a family member to work in a business without being remunerated.
  • Racking up debts on shared credit facilities.
  • Forcing a victim into changing their will.

The most common form of financial abuse is elder abuse, where adult children force their parents into financial situations that are not in their best interests or abuse their access to their parent’s resources. In addition, those with a physical or mental disability are also at a high-risk to be abused financially.

Around 16% of women report to have been subject to financial abuse at some point in their lives and in over 90% of domestic violence scenarios, financial abuse is apparent. It’s the number one reason for women staying in an abusive relationship as the victims lack resources to remove themselves from the unhealthy environment.

If you or someone you know is struggling with the effects of financial abuse, there is help available. The National Sexual Assault, Domestic Family Violence Counselling Service is a great please to start. By calling 1800 RESPECT (737 732) there will be able to connect you with support services in your area or go to their website https://www.1800respect.org.au/ for more information about this or any other forms of abuse.

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