Financial Abuse as a Form of Domestic Abuse

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Domestic violence, defined by California law, is abuse that takes place within families, specifically with respect to children, parents and grandparents, and between intimate partners. Intimate partners are both heterosexual and homosexual and include people who have children together, people who are living together or who formerly lived together, people who are dating or were dating and people who are married or divorced. Domestic abuse may take on many forms, the most common types being physical, emotional and financial abuse.

Financial abuse, also known as economic dependence or economic abuse, occurs when an individual exerts power over his or her intimate partner or another family member by withholding or preventing access to money, checks, credit cards, necessities such as food, clothing, shelter and medicine and/or steals from his or her intimate partner or another family member. On that note, if such depravation takes place against one’s own child, a child abuse charge of child endangerment may be filed against the parent. Draining bank accounts or accessing other lines of credit are additional ways that an abuser can financially assert power over a family member or intimate partner. When these types of theft occur, the victim’s ability to find new housing or employment may be adversely affected, which acts as a significant barrier to self-sufficiency and empowerment. Economic abuse is a type of emotional abuse and can leave a victim feeling helpless.

Although this type of economic dependence usually takes place between intimate partners, other family members may be affected as well. If a child steals from his or her parent, that is economic abuse and will be treated as a form of domestic violence. It should be noted that the juvenile justice system is different from the adult system and the child would not be prosecuted in the same manner as an adult offender would. Similarly, a child could steal from a grandparent or an adult could steal from an elder parent, which could be prosecuted as elder financial abuse, falling under the jurisdiction of California’s domestic violence laws.

Financial abuse affects victims in much the same way as any other type of domestic abuse. Victims of economic abuse often feel hopeless and trapped in an emotionally draining relationship. They may suffer from depression, stress or anxiety and may develop significant health problems. Depending on how much additional emotional abuse is being targeted at the victim, he or she may also feel worthless and resort to destructive behavior. Sometimes the abuser may force an intimate partner to assume sole responsibility for the bills, may demand his or her paychecks and/or may force his or her intimate partner or child to commit crimes in order to obtain money. When these types of abuses occur, the victim may exhibit even more extreme versions of the above-listed symptoms and may completely withdraw and/or contemplate suicide or act violently towards others.

People who find themselves being financially abused by an intimate partner may be unable to leave their partner due to a recognized psychological condition known as “battered person’s syndrome”. This syndrome, and what’s known as the “cycle of abuse,” are recognized issues that explain why someone who has been consistently and/or severely victimized would choose to stay in a harmful relationship.

Individuals who are being financially abused should speak to an attorney about their legal rights and should seek help to learn how to safely leave an abusive relationship. An individual charged with a crime of domestic violence should immediately contact a criminal defense lawyer upon an accusation. The experienced attorneys at The Kavinoky Law Firm specialize in intimate partner abuse charges and all that goes along with this special class of crimes. They have successfully defended countless individuals charged with domestic violence and treat each client with the respect, discretion and compassion that he or she deserves. To discuss financial abuse or to discuss a domestic violence arrest, contact The Kavinoky Law Firm for a consultation.

Darren Kavinoky
Darren Kavinoky
Founder at 1-800-NoCuffs
Darren Kavinoky is the founder of 1.800.NoCuffs–The Kavinoky Law Firm and is known as an award-winning criminal defense attorney.

The American Trial Lawyers Association has named him one of the “Top 100 Trial Lawyers in California” each year since 2007. Los Angeles magazine has identified Darren as a “SuperLawyer” every year since 2010. Darren received an “AV Preeminent Rating” by Martindale-Hubbell (a peer review ranking that signals the highest level of professional excellence and ethics); a perfect 10.0 Rating by (an independent attorney ranking site), and many other accolades.