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June 2025

PostedMay 15, 2024

Cash Trapped

Andrew’s story

I was proud of being financially savvy and independent, and I never thought I would find myself a victim of financial abuse. It started subtly, almost imperceptibly, but over time, the signs became clearer as the cycles repeated themselves with alarming regularity.

At first, it seemed like a harmless request from my partner to manage our finances together. She convinced me that it would bring us closer and help us achieve our shared goals more effectively. I saw no harm in it and willingly handed over the reins of my financial matters to her.

As time passed, I started noticing small changes in our financial dynamics. My partner began restricting my access to our joint accounts, citing the need for better budgeting and planning. She would scrutinise my expenses but would not share or explain hers. She would question the necessity of every purchase that I made. Any of my attempts to discuss these concerns with her was met with accusations of me being selfish, irresponsible, or not caring about our financial future.

Gradually, I found myself on a tight leash when it came to finances. I had to ask for permission to spend money even on basic items. My partner controlled all of the money, and I was left feeling helpless and dependent. The dynamics of our relationship had shifted, and I felt trapped in a situation I never imagined possible. I felt like a prisoner in my own life.

Despite the red flags waving right in front of my eyes, I rationalised her behaviour in an attempt to come to terms with the reality of my situation. But I was in denial. I justified my partner’s behaviour as a sign of her concern for our financial stability. I had convinced myself that it was normal for one person to take charge of the finances in a relationship.

The cycles of financial abuse became more pronounced as time went on. There were periods of extreme control, where the smallest expense would result in arguments and accusations. I was given an allowance for my own expenses but I had to justify every dollar spent. This was followed by brief phases of apparent generosity, where my partner would buy gifts. I later learned that this is an example of manipulative behaviour.

The emotional abuse that accompanied the financial control was equally damaging. I was constantly made to feel inadequate and incompetent when it came to managing money. My partner would belittle my financial decisions and undermined my confidence and self-worth. I felt like I had lost my voice in the relationship.

I felt like I was walking on eggshells. I never knew when the next outburst or restriction would come. The constant stress and anxiety took a toll on my mental health and impacted my ability to focus at work and my overall confidence and sense of self-worth. I became isolated from friends and family, as I was too ashamed to admit that I could not pay my way in social situations.

I eventually sought guidance from a therapist who helped me understand the dynamics of financial abuse and gave me the courage to confront my partner. It was a difficult and emotional conversation, but I knew I had to break free from the cycle of control and manipulation.

With support from loved ones and with professional help, I began the journey of reclaiming my financial independence and rebuilding my self-esteem. It was a long and challenging road, filled with setbacks and doubts, but I persevered. I took back control of my finances, set boundaries in my relationship, and learned to trust my instincts again.

Looking back, I see the signs of financial abuse more clearly now. It was never about budgeting or planning for the future; it was about power and control. I hope that by sharing my story others, regardless of gender, will recognise the signs of financial abuse and seek help if they find themselves in a similar situation.

The stories in this calendar are based on actual experiences. The names are changed to protect the identity of the individuals who shared their story.

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If this story has caused you any distress please contact Lifeline Australia on 13 11 14 or Lifeline Crisis Support

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