Many women have suffered financial abuse during a narcissistic relationship including me. It’s often part and parcel of the overall controlling, abusive environment with a narcissist. The narcissist can be subtle, right up in your face, or a combination of these in regards to financial abuse.
Financial abuse is another way to diminish and control you. Money and finances are an important part of independence and security in many cultures. If you have no money and no access to money, it’s hard to feel either of these and you may become stuck in a situation feeling like there is no way out.
Financial abuse is often one of the key ways that abusers attempt to keep people in the relationship. If you have no money, it’s harder to leave. This is one of the biggest reasons we hear that people cannot leave the toxic relationship: they either don’t have the money, they don’t have access to the money or they have children that are financially dependent on them.
Financial abuse doesn’t just involve taking, stopping, or controlling others from earning money. It can also be refusing to pay their share of expenses, supporting themselves, or contributing to the finances in general. It can be insisting that others are required to care for them financially.
It can involve taking money from others without permission and claiming that it’s not stealing. It can be borrowing money, spending without regard to you, taking out credit lines or loans, otherwise creating financial mayhem and catastrophe for you.
It can involve threatening, guilting, manipulating, harassing, bullying, throwing tantrums, or terrorizing you to try to force you to give them money or buy them things. Any situation where money, access to money, or control of money is used to hurt, punish, or threaten your security is financial abuse.
Narcissists Can Be Glaringly Obvious With Their Financial Abuse
They often believe that no one else is as smart, clever, or responsible enough as they are, and that is why they need to control the money. My narcissistic partner believed he was an authority on everything.
They may be deliberately cruel about controlling it, taking pleasure in creating circumstances where they force you to ask, or even beg for money for even the most basic of things. They offer money so they can control you.
This is an example of the kind of financial abuse my narcissistic partner did to me. We arranged to have 3 weeks off from work at the same time so we could go away on vacation however he manages to manipulate me so that I ended up going away by myself with the 2 kids and the dog for 3 weeks to rental cottages close to our home while he went off alone to an exotic place for 3 weeks. The cost of my vacation was $2,000 for 3 of us and his vacation for 1 person was $6,000.
Some are obvious and insist they are the ones who will look after all the bills then they don’t pay them or don’t pay them on time causing further unnecessary problems for you, like extra late fees and calls from the companies or even collection agencies.
They may constantly talk about how much they do for others financially, or about how much everyone owes them.
Others are more passive-aggressive. My narcissist partner who overspent buys a $3,000 Hugo Boss suit along with a $300 shirt and $150 tie creating a situation where there was not enough money for the bills.
They may attack you saying you the one who is selfish and cruelly withhold for having any reaction to what he has done. They may insist that too much is being made of how he spent the money on himself, that it isn’t that big of a deal, that he’s being treated unfairly, that he feels unimportant or is being abused by you because you have the nerve to question him about what he feels he is entitled to have.
The fact that they’ve created a big financial burden is irrelevant to them and is not addressed. They may insist that you are being over-dramatic just to hurt them or that there is other money hidden somewhere and they never buy anything for themselves.
More Reasons Why They Do It
Pathologically narcissistic abusers engage in financially abusive behavior not only because they are power-seeking and controlling, but also because they are irresponsible, inconsiderate, selfish, and childish.
They are inclined to magical thinking believing there will be enough money, the money will come from somewhere, or that something will happen to make everything all right because they want these things to be true and for no other reason. When this magical thing does not happen to make everything work out in spite of their irresponsibility, incompetence, or selfishness, and they caused the problem, what they do is of course is, blame you.
Because narcissists view people as objects and extensions of themselves, they see no reason they should have to share anything that they view as theirs and are entitled to anything that isn’t. Kind of like what’s mine is mine and what’s yours is mine.
Living with financial abuse can be extremely traumatic and demoralizing. You are abused, then gaslighted, and told that what you are experiencing is not abuse. At the same time, you are blamed for the abuse that you are being told is not happening. Truly crazy-making behavior.
You may also be involved in multiple situations where you are humiliated by financial abuse as I was. This may look like this: not having enough money when you are at the supermarket to pay for your food because he has taken money out for himself without a thought and doesn’t leave enough in the account, being forced to beg him for money or perform tasks in order to get money to buy necessities for the family, needing to borrow from others because of his overspending or withholding, having to call utility companies and try to persuade them not to turn the utilities off.
There can be financial disasters due to the abuser keeping secrets or trying to hide things from you, and when these things are finally unable to be hidden any longer, they come as a huge shock. This may look like this: your narcissist partner loses their job but doesn’t tell you, or putting large amounts of credit on your joint credit line, gambling, or in my case using credit for himself to buy an expensive vacation for only himself, expensive clothing for himself or buying only the best food which meant expensive meat, cheese, and other foods.
Maybe they pretended to pay the mortgage but weren’t really doing it. When the mortgage company contacts you not only are you shocked but completely unprepared and worse, have to remedy the situation.
We often find that these situations continue to happen over and over again
They can be smaller incidents as well as big catastrophes. You may have just dug yourself out of a financial hole, only to find that the abuser’s selfish, reckless, or controlling ways have pushed you right back in again. Or you may just be starting to feel stable and secure again only to find that your narcissist partner has become angry with you and cut off access to your own money once more.
Your abuser may have bought you a reliable car as a gift so you can get to work and then constantly threaten to have it repossessed regularly as a punishment for not doing exactly what he wanted.
The abuser may insist they don’t have to pay or contribute to the mortgage or household because “they’ve paid enough” by dealing with the supposed horrific mistreatment given to them.
The narcissist may create situations so that you cannot work or do things that get you fired. My narcissistic partner would tell me repeatedly how important he was and how important his job was even though I made more money than he did and had a very responsible position.
They may repeatedly sabotage their own employment. My partner told me many times over the years how his boss at the time did not understand him or treated him so badly, had it out for him. He neglected to say he would go in late every day and show up when he wanted to until he was reprimanded about this. His employer eventually figured out what he was up to and who he was and his position became obsolete.
The list goes on and on. There are so many versions of financial abuse.
When you live with financial abuse it is common to develop a chronic shelter, food, or general financial insecurities where you constantly fear that there will not be enough or what you have will be taken away.
It is not uncommon to develop extreme anxiety because of financial abuse, and even thinking about finances or money can become a trigger for you. Your basic sense of stability or security has often been completely undermined, to the point where you are constantly on edge.
This kind of abuse is deceptive and destructive; not only does it create chronic financial insecurities and rob you of your feelings safety, but it often creates situations where you can be extremely controlling regarding the money in a desperate attempt to stop your narcissistic partner from using it as a weapon.
You may deny the narcissist access to bank accounts, close down credit lines, take debit cards away, take their names off of bank accounts, or do other things to try and restrict spending in an effort to stop the narcissist from creating these financial catastrophes or stop them from withholding. This can be confusing for you and your children when your narcissistic partner blames you for these actions in front of them.
The thing is, if your partner does not treat you as an equal person with equal access to the funds, or if you feel that you have been restricted access to the funds like a child, this is not a healthy relationship.
If your narcissistic partner harasses you about money for hours or even days, if they take money without talking to you about it, if they overspend, if they use money to hurt you, control or punish you in any way, if they refuse to contribute their fair share to the household, if they use manipulation, guilt, or terrorize you to get you to give them money, this is not a healthy relationship.
Our partners are not responsible for taking care of us as adults and we are not responsible for them, but when we enter into an agreement or a partnership with them, such as a marriage, sharing a home, or finances, they are required to be fair and reasonable. When they don’t do that, it’s not okay.
If you find yourself in this situation, it is financial abuse, it can be extremely difficult to get out.
However, you deserve to be treated as an adult and an equal person in the relationship – whether it’s a marriage, a long term relationship, a family situation, or a friendship.
You deserve to feel safe, secure, and to be free from bullying, harassment, and being terrorized. You deserve better.
Financial Abuse and Trauma is very difficult to deal with and leaves you feeling trapped and uncertain. Narcissists use this from their abuse ” toolbox”. I am hopeful this will show you what financial abuse like and so you know you are not alone.
As always I wish you only the best on your healing journey. If you would like to leave a comment or you can reach me here :
Please take care and love to you