Financial abuse is a problem now more than ever before, according to Anne Marie Seagrim.
Seagrim, a certified financial strategist, said that in her 38 years of work she had seen growing numbers of the ‘new poor,’ who stay in financially abusive relationships because they were not aware of their alternatives.
She recommended speaking to a certified financial strategist and estate planning professional to learn of alternatives. She said that the Salvation Army, Uniting Care Wesley, Centrelink social worked and the South Australian Housing Trust could help.
Seagrim said that the new poor come from financial stable backgrounds originally, but were then forced to find other ways of supporting themselves, such as charity, following financial abuse.
Financial abuse would include one partner keeping funds from the other, only allowing their spouse (often female) to shop with the limited cash they are given, spending money on themselves while withholding it from their family, or restricting their partner (again often female) from having their own cash or bank account as that is how their family had managed finances for generations.
It could extend beyond abuse from partners, too. Seagrim pointed to children loaning money from their parents then losing it and making no attempt to pay it back and insurance companies refusing pay-outs for reasons not outlined when the relevant policy was adopted as further examples of abuse.
Seagrim said it was particularly concerning how victims of financial abuse would often feel unable to seek support from friends, family or organisations.
“I’ve noticed with those who find themselves in a situation of financial abuse, it can be embarrassing and you can feel very isolated. Many people I speak to have not divulged to their family or friends what is really happening to them,” Seagrim said.
“They tend to hide it as they are too proud to let on they are having a dreadful time.”
Seagrim said that one of her top tips to getting the necessary support to deal with financial abuse was to find a friend or a trusted person to talk to honestly.
Those suffering financial abuse should also find out what they own, what they owe and their alternatives to remaining in that relationship.
Seagrim said that there were many organisations that could help individuals work out this information.