How Women Financially Abuse Men
“Every night, I’d walk in and be so tired and she wouldn’t say hi. She’d smile and say, ‘Checks, please.’”
-- Man who was financially abused by his wife
When people focus on financial ways men abuse women, they often talk about men who exert control by limiting their partner’s ability to work or access to family money. While those same abuses may occur when the genders are flipped, there also are financial abuses that are available for women to use against men that take advantage of traditional gender roles.
A woman might be in a position to control finances because she has a much larger income than her partner. Another woman may take advantage of a man’s role as “provider” by demanding he provide an unreasonable amount or in unreasonable ways. If he doesn’t live up to her demands, there is a price to pay. The same woman, or other women, may capitalize on female gender roles to help her avoid financial responsibility.
Financially abused men may feel overly taxed by their partners' unreasonable demands or "requests" but struggle to see the situation for what it is since they are conditioned to carry the financial responsibilities for the partnership and family.
Signs of Financial AbuseThe female-on-male financial abuse ways and means of manipulative or abusive women are diverse:
- getting him to buy her things
- controlling the finances
- restricting access to financial information
- demanding he make more money
- misuse of funds
- stealing from him or the family
- ruining his credit
- keeping the family financially burdened
- refusing to contribute financially to the family
- limiting his ability to work
- destroying his property
Example of Financial Abuse by a Girlfriend: Getting Him to Buy Her Things
Male gender-role training that says men need to prove they can provide financially for their partner and potential, or actual, family sets men up to be vulnerable to women who wish to take advantage of them financially.
Though women have made great strides in equal rights with men, such as vastly increased occupation choices, many still have hung on, with a death grip, to unequal rights that favor women. Men paying for everything—from dinner, to diamonds, to literally everything—is a vestige of the old days that some women love to capitalize on.
Many men are conditioned to not question their role as gift-giver, and can’t quite put their finger on what feels so awful if they are taken advantage of in this way. If they do consciously think it’s unfair, they may be ashamed to admit it, or find little support for their view.
A man’s girlfriend often traveled internationally for her jewelry business. She talked him into giving her money to purchase her engagement ring on one of her trips by convincing him that she could get a great deal through her contacts. She came back from the trip with a diamond ring and all seemed good with the world.
Imagine his shock, then, when her husband showed up at his door one day. This fiancée to him, wife of another man, didn’t travel for business. That was her cover story for not being available all the time. How much of his money she pocketed and how much she spent on her “engagement” ring is unknown, but certainly neither was returned to him.
Example of Financial Abuse in Marriage by a Wife: Controlling and Restricting
Some women may control their families’ finances because they are the major earners of their families, but even if a woman is not bringing in the bulk of the family income, or any of the family income, she may still control the family “purse strings”.
A man may be convinced that his partner has more time or ability to manage the budget and then find that he has less and less access to funds or ability to make reasonable purchases; or a woman may take control more directly.
In situations where a couple recognizes that the woman genuinely has a better history with handling money and they have agreed that it is in everyone’s financial best interests that he have limited access because he has a spending problem, then her control of the funds may be healthy and warranted. In abusive situations, a woman may gradually or quickly take control of the finances, limit her partner’s input into how money will be spent, and restrict his access to financial information. She may use any combination of coercion, control, manipulation, or humiliation to secure her hold on the money.
One man found out after separation that he and his estranged wife had several years of unpaid taxes. He had given her the money to pay the taxes each year. He thought she had paid the taxes each year. But she had not.
He had trusted her to handle the family finances and the book-keeping for his business. He was run ragged with the physical demands of the business and she appeared to be taking care of the bills. Occasionally, he had attempted to get more information about how things were going financially, but she would either divert his attention or accuse him of creating too much work for her.
His wife spent lavishly on herself while she always talked him out of buying weather-appropriate gear he needed for his work or anything else he wanted. His requests for some of the income from his business were met with an emotionally laden litany of excuses why they couldn’t afford the purchase.
She always managed to convince him there wasn’t enough money to go around, so he had to sacrifice for the family. He described the feeling he had, after years of the same money-for-her/none-for-him scenarios repeating over and over, as “frugal fatigue.”
During his divorce, it took forensic accounting to weed through the tangled mess his wife had made of the business and personal financial records. The digging uncovered that over a year prior to any talk of separation, she had funneled money from his business into an undisclosed account.
To add insult to injury—or more accurately, injury to injury—after the divorce settlement left them each responsible for half of the back taxes, the ex-wife filed for Innocent Spouse with the IRS. Despite the very strong documentation the man submitted to the IRS to refute her claim, the IRS awarded her Innocent Spouse status, making him responsible to pay all the tax debt the couple had incurred while together.
For further explanation of each of the ways abusive women financially abuse their male partners and the personal stories of abused men check out my book:
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- Ann Silvers