By Reem Asaad
What is financial abuse and are you a victim?
According to womenslaw.org, it is the practice of “making or attempting to make a person financially dependent.” It is also the practice of coercing your partner into choices that would otherwise not be made. Examples of financial abuse include maintaining total control on financial resources in a household (or a personal relationship), with holding access to money, credit or identity theft, or job coercion. In Arabia especially, we rarely discuss this problem openly since it has familial stigma attached to it. Not uncommonly, financial abuse sneaks into the relationship and sometimes ends in painful breakups or more dire consequences like imprisonment (in extreme cases).
In my career I have witnessed women coerced into personal loans for their husbands who are either unable to repay it or deny their personal involvement in the matter. In other cases, women are chosen in marriage for their job. In fact, today a question about a woman’s salary and earnings can arise when marriage is proposed. Clearly, life has become more expensive and the single income household is no longer a sustainable model for modern family, but abuse should not be tolerated. In many of these cases, the abuser has access to the financial and identity information of the “abused.”
As an expert, here are a few tips:
- Maintain a separate bank account. Joint account is not recommended for all married couples. They are designed for some certain purposes.
- Keep your banking information confidential.
- Never issue an unlimited POA* to your husband or other family member.
- Do NOT obtain a personal loan for anyone else unless it is a very trusted relative or friend. Be prepared that you may not get repaid. Legally, you are the only liable person in this transaction.
- When contributing to family expenses, keep a record of amounts and dates.
- Do not discuss your pay or finances casually among friends and family members.
For more details or advice, you can reach me at: