Identifying Financial Abusers and Their Tactics

Early in our marriage, my husband and I worked cooperatively on budgeting and saving. We came to an understanding that neither of us would make any major purchases until we discussed them and agreed upon them. But as the years passed, something shifted – and not in a good way.

When balancing our checkbook virtually every month, I would discover significant cash withdrawals that my husband had made, but with nothing material to show for them. When asked where the money was going, he would reply, “Good things. All good things.”

On many evenings, as I paid the bills and tried to budget the little that remained, I had to will myself not to cry. My husband would walk by me sitting there, pat me on the shoulder and say patronizingly, “You’ll figure it out.” And, yes, I always found a way to make ends meet, but barely. I suppose he knew I would, which only substantiated his increasingly spend-aholic ways.

Then there were the times later in our marriage when I found large sums of money stashed away in a drawer or the linen closet. When confronted, he would say that that was his money, perhaps from a bonus he said he had received at work. Not only did I not believe him, but it didn’t matter to me where the money came from when our household had legitimate needs. I reminded him that he had a wife and children who should be a priority, but he usually dismissed me and affirmed that he had more important things in mind – like buying a new shotgun or saving for a new set of conga drums. Month after month money continued to mysteriously disappear from our bank account.

After the divorce, it became apparent that at least a portion of those funds had been spent at local strip clubs. But even that couldn’t account for one-tenth of the financial – and emotional – damage the man had done to me and our children.

Recognizing that the abuser’s desire for power and control are at the core of the abusive relationship, it should come as no surprise that finances will likely be impacted as well.

No matter how conscientious and forbearing the abuser’s* spouse may be, she may be faced with the painful understanding that her mate’s needs and desires tend to be of greater import than those of his wife and children. It is another aspect of the dynamic that we as hyper-responsible victims attempt to reason away, trying to assume that the man has good intentions and just needs to be educated, as it were, on good financial management and responsibility. We believe that by setting a good example we will ultimately incite our spouse to adopt a more balanced financial approach.

Unfortunately, however, the primary principles that govern the abuser’s thought process with regard to finances seem to be these:

  • Money is another form of power he intends to utilize for his own benefit.
  • He doesn’t care how his monetary decisions affect anyone else.

Let’s look at some of the underlying principles and practices within the abuse dynamic.

The Insatiable Narcissist

From my experience, I am inclined that many, if not most, abusers are narcissists. Narcissists are constantly looking for stimulus from someone or something – a source of supply, so access to money is vital to feed his inner emptiness addiction. The contented glow he assumes after purchasing some new toy or pursuing a new hobby or immediate source of pleasure he believes will make him happy quickly wears off. So he must constantly pursue new relationships, adrenaline-inducing experiences or material possessions in his vain effort to fill the bottomless pit in his heart. Unfortunately, from my experience, there is nothing and no amount of money that can ever procure what is necessary to fill that pit (other than God). This also means that he must do everything in his power to commandeer how the majority of funds are spent so as to ensure that he gets what he wants before the money is spent on something or someone else. It is that important to him. Not all abusers are this extreme; nevertheless, this dynamic is important to understand.

Employment

When it comes to employment, there are several scenarios that are common, and every one of them is impacted by the abuser’s desire for power and control. And of course, there are countless variables that may come into play.

The Owner: This guy brings home a hefty income and provides his wife with every nicety. But he is not a nice guy. This man’s wife may describe him as “difficult” or perhaps “high-maintenance,” which is generally her code word for “abusive.” Although she wears a stunning diamond wedding ring, drives a nice new car and lives in a beautiful home, she is not happy.

He imposes limits upon her freedom, has severe expectations about how his household should be managed, and endeavors to control her relationships while making sure that, when appropriate, she presents a carefully crafted image of perfection for family and any guests. Should she dare to petition him to be kinder toward her, he will remind her of all of the material comforts she enjoys as a result of his hard work and generosity. The owner’s wife wonders if she is being ungrateful if she acknowledges that she fears her husband rather than respects him. She is essentially his possession, and she knows that, if she leaves, others may view her as petty and unappreciative. Not even lavish material benefits can compensate for a life lived with an abuser.

The Control Freak: In cases where the abuser is the sole provider, the control freak especially believes he has a divine right to decide how all resources are spent, and the lion’s share will be claimed by him. He may put his wife on a tight budget. Any funds beyond that are strictly subject to his priorities. If she is forced to grovel for his favor, that only assures him of his power. Groveling won’t necessarily incite him to be more financially gracious, and he may place conditions and limits on any expenditures to which he consents.

In cases where both partners work, the abuser will assert his role as “the man of the house” and assume a divine right to decide how the majority of the money is spent. Again, if there is something he wants or needs, that takes precedence, even if it means that basic necessities are sacrificed, including the children’s needs for new clothes, shoes, food or school supplies.

The User: Finally, there are those situations where the abuser prefers to allow his spouse to support him. In many cases, although the abuser is for all intents and purposes employable, he seems unable to find or hold a job. He may wander in and out of various professions only to lose interest or end up getting laid off, perhaps due to a poor work ethic although he will complain of “poor management” or insinuate that the people he worked with were “out to get him.” Some abusers choose higher education as their escape of choice and might dabble in several majors before deciding that nothing appeals to them.

Over time, these abusers grow accustomed to being financially supported and rationalize the benefits of remaining home, whether to maintain the household or take care of kids. This scenario may be perfectly workable if you’re dealing with a healthy person, but the abusive personality is still primarily concerned about his own well-being, and it shows. For him, this situation isn’t about serving but receiving.

This type appreciates the freedom that comes from not working, as it allows him to make his own schedule and priorities while allowing his wife to pay his way. But he also makes it clear to his victim that, should she decide to divorce him, he will make sure she compensates him for all of the “sacrifices” he has made.

All of these situations are under-girded by an entitlement mentality whereby the abuser believes he has the right to decide what he will do and when without any input from his victim who is simply expected to accommodate whatever he decides. She will learn, likely with no small measure of discomfort, that she has almost no voice in these matters. You can bet he will always be able to rationalize his while victim feels powerless, taken for granted and financially insecure.

It is also not uncommon for an abuser to threaten to quit his job or look for ways to get paid under the table should his wife decide to divorce him so that she will be left struggling for adequate financial support, or she may find herself supporting him for some time after the divorce.

All of these scenarios are indicators that the abuser loves his money more than his bride and will wield it as a weapon if necessary.

Hiding Assets

Many victims report their suspicions that their abusers have secret accounts, hidden cash or unaccounted-for expenses. The abuser’s intent is, once again, to make sure that his needs are taken care of first and foremost, no matter the risk or cost to others in the household. Some victims feel that their abusers are even preparing for the possibility of separation or divorce and have set aside a secret slush fund for themselves while depriving their spouses of resources that might facilitate their escape.

Unnecessary or Extravagant Spending

Some financial abusers occasionally arrive home with costly or unnecessary items. These spur-of-the-moment purchases feed the beast’s insatiable appetite for stuff, but these decisions are rarely, if ever, discussed beforehand with his spouse. When he shows up with a brand-new, big-screen television and his wife is less than thrilled about the amount of money spent (and the television they have works just fine), he will complain that she is a bitter, selfish woman and a killjoy for not embracing his self-serving measure of generosity. He will insist he “bought it for the family,” when the truth is that he bought it for himself.

He may also become a big spender when he is having friends over or meeting someone he wants to impress. Wanting to appear the superior host, he may spring for T-bones for the barbecue, and expect his bride to put together all the fixings for an impressive spread. Should his bride object, he will likely tell her to lighten up and enjoy life, while the resentment she carries from feeling like a servant and a third-class citizen only grows.

Overspending/Debt

Beyond spending financial resources on expensive or unnecessary items, many abusers are also good at incurring debt when the opportunity presents itself. Debt serves three purposes: 1) it makes it possible for him to have what he wants immediately and defer to his wife as to how to pay for it later; 2) his claim on available funds means his bride can’t spend them on other things, and 3) debt keeps his victim financially bound to him. Community property laws generally make both parties equally responsible for debt obligations, which can make it financially difficult for a victim to become independent. The abuser might well make certain she knows that.

Putting Property in His Name

Oftentimes, abusers look for ways to claim property as their sole possession. This is where the difference between debt and equity must be examined. An abuser will may like the idea of saddling his victim with his debt while keeping assets with equity in his name alone. It is not altogether difficult to see whose interests he is protecting.

Assuming Control of an Inheritance

When an abuser’s victim receives an inheritance, oftentimes an abuser will either 1) demand that she expend them on his self-declared financial emergencies or 2) look for ways to obtain access to those funds. Once that is accomplished, he will siphon off or spend the money for his own well-being, hiding or hoarding. Many an abuse victim who wants to prove to her abuser that she is willing to trust him may end up being defrauded of an entire inheritance that might have helped her to separate from her abuser and begin a new life, not to mention the fact that the money was intended for her use.

Stealing

Stealing may seem extreme, but if an abuser is willing to withdraw and hoard funds intended for the household or pilfer his wife’s inheritance, why wouldn’t he also be willing to take advantage of strangers? Many abusers are highly resourceful and may look for ways to embezzle funds or highjack product from their employers or engage in any number of shady dealings if they are confident they can get away with it. Some women have even shared that they suspect their abusers of stealing jewelry or other valuables and selling them off. This is not a problem for the abuser because his need to procure whatever he wants is always more important than how his actions affect other people. Stealing brings with it the added thrill of getting away with something. Gambling may also fall into this category.

Questions worth asking:

  • Does it seem that he loves his possessions and/or his power more than you?
  • Do you feel mostly powerless with regard to marital financial decisions?
  • Does he make you responsible for his poor financial choices or debt or minimize their impact?
  • Do you feel resentful of his constant efforts to put his needs first?
  • Are you frustrated by his self-centered focus as to when or whether he works based on his moods or preferences?
  • Does he disregard your efforts to discuss issues related to your finances?
  • Do you feel like you have to grovel to get him to meet some of your basic household or personal needs?
  • Does he make impulsive purchases?
  • Do you feel like you have to pay close attention to your finances and debt load?
  • Do you distrust him with money?
  • Does he deny the financial harm he is causing?

If some or all of your answers indicate that your relationship is being negatively affected by some serious financial issues, then you might want to consider whether legitimate household needs are the priority – or he is.

What Can A Victim Do to Protect Herself?

Create separate bank and credit card accounts.

  • Make sure that both of your names are on title documents associated with property with equity or, if the property is yours alone, make sure your name alone is on the title.
  • Insist upon a workable budget based on family priorities and demand that he respect it.
  • Refuse to provide him access to inherited funds.
  • Look for evidence of any hidden cash or bank accounts and reclaim them.
  • Refuse to co-sign any new loans, refinance or credit applications.
  • Consider meeting with a family law attorney to research legal options to protect yourself financially.

While these suggestions may help to better protect your financial interests, they don’t do anything to incur lasting change in your abuser’s self-centered heart. Marital relationships must be grounded in trust. If your spouse is either financially irresponsible or power-hungry, then you may need to have a serious conversation focused on serious change and/or serious consequences.

Some would say that we must be willing to accept our spouse’s weaknesses, as in, “… for better or worse, for richer or poorer… ” Such a view is a twisting of the truth. These vows should be representative of the two working as one, striving together to tackle whatever trying circumstances come against them from the outside world. These vows should never justify one marriage partner selfishly pitted against the other. As far as your spouse is concerned, you should never feel like you have to watch your back.

The financial abuser who refuses to support a budget that best serves the needs of everyone in the household leaves those who are depending upon him materially unprotected. Conversely, the one who loves his family will be a protector, one who will do whatever he can to ensure that every family member’s needs are met – even before his own. That’s what spousal and parental love looks like.

“… But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” I Timothy 5:8

Copyright 2017, All Rights Reserved

*Although abusers can be of either gender, the overwhelming majority of abusers are male; therefore, for the sake of simplicity the abuser is referred to in the masculine.

Reiki for Prosperity, Abundance and Financial Success

Quite a few people have written to me asking how to use Reiki to bring abundance, prosperity and/or

financial success into their lives. This article is a somewhat shortened version of my blog entry on this

matter. Please click on the link below to read the longer version.

I’m going to present a few ideas for using Reiki to achieve abundance, prosperity and/or financial success.

But before I do that, I want to mention that this is one area where Reiki and Feng Shui go together very

nicely. Many books on Feng Shui specifically tell you how to set up your environment to encourage abundance and prosperity.

I do want to acknowledge something before I continue my discussion. To some people, speaking of Reiki and money or Reiki and financial success in the same breath makes them cringe. They view Reiki as pure Love, a spiritual calling, and to introduce the idea of money into the sacred realm of Reiki is abhorrent to them. If that is your viewpoint, I completely understand and respect your position. I have known healers in many fields who have felt the same way.

But I am a bit more of a pragmatist and a realist. I recognize that we need to make a living and we need to support our families. Even more importantly, I realize the negative effects poverty and monetary insecurity can have on us.

When a person feels financially uncertain, even endangered, that person may find it very hard to pay attention to the spiritual aspects of his/her life. If someone has so much financial worry, thoughts of “How will I pay the bills?” and “Will we lose the house?” may occupy so much of that person’s energy and time that they can scarcely think about things like helping others heal.

Does this mean that poor people and people with financial difficulties can’t be spiritual and can’t help others heal? Of course it doesn’t mean that. However, survival issues can become paramount, and for many, many people, these issues interfere with their ability to give any of their energy to spiritual and healing issues. We are all human, with a limited amount of energy and resources available to us at any given time.

But beyond this, I don’t believe there is anything inherently wrong in the desire for abundance, prosperity

and financial security. We live in a world that is run by money; that is the reality we live with, no matter

how much we might wish it were otherwise. Without sufficient money, we are in deep trouble! When we have sufficient money, we can turn our attention more easily to helping others.

Everyone has to define what the term “sufficient money” means to them. For example, I am not fond of the idea of using Reiki to win the lottery, or to win at gambling. Frankly, I don’t like the energy of gambling, because so many people’s lives are ruined by gambling.

Having said that, however, I leave it up to you to decide how much money is “sufficient”. The people who

contact me about using Reiki for prosperity usually want to have enough money to pay their bills on time and provide a good home for their families. Some of them have started Reiki and other healing practices, and want those practices to be financially successful so that they can both help others and support their

families.

The term “abundance” is also open to interpretation. Abundance is not necessarily the same thing as having a lot of money, or being very prosperous. Each person has to decide what “abundance” means to them. Someone who does not have a lot of money but who has a lot of friendship and love might feel that their life is filled with abundance. Having a sense of abundance allows us to feel content with what we have. That assumes, of course, that we don’t struggle to find the money to eat every day, or we don’t live in an unsafe place.

You can use Reiki to attract abundance and prosperity towards you in many ways. Here are a few suggestions:

1. Draw the Reiki Power Symbol and the Long Distance symbol on a piece of paper, and place them in your wallet or purse. Every time you see them there, think of abundance/prosperity being drawn to you across time and distance. You can also place these symbols in a jar of coins and tuck one in the back of your checkbook.

2. Draw the Power Symbol on your Palm Chakras each morning. This will serve as a symbolic reminder of how money changes hands, and it will help draw that money toward your hands.

3. Use Aventurine stones or Malachite stones, both of which are often used to represent money. Place the

stone in one hand while you draw the Power and/or Long Distance Symbol over that hand with your other hand. Concentrate on the idea of wealth flowing toward you. Leave the stones near your checkbook, purse, wallet, etc.

4. Using the Long-Distance Symbol, you can send Reiki into the future for your finances. In other words, you can send positive energy into the future. You can also use the Long-Distance Symbol to go backwards in time to help heal some of the emotional toll that financial difficulties have taken on you.

5. If you have a business, you can draw the Power Symbol and/or Long-Distance Symbol in the air in the

corners of your place of business, over the cash register or credit card machine, etc. Leave small

Aventurine or Malachite stones that you have charged with Reiki near the register or credit card terminal.

There are several Chakras that are important to pay attention to in money matters:

1. The Palm Chakras – since money literally “changes hands”.

2. The Third Eye Chakra – because it’s the seat of your intuition, and it can help you make good decisions

about your future.

3. The Solar Plexus Chakra – because it’s the place of your inner wisdom, your “gut feelings”, and it can

help you determine whether something is a good or bad financial decision for you.

4. Be sure to focus on your Root Chakra, too, if self-confidence (or lack of it) is an issue. Your Root

Chakra is also important if past financial problems have disturbed your sense of stability and security (and

made you less confident as a result).

The subject of Reiki for abundance, prosperity and financial success is complex and multi-faceted. I have

just scratched the surface with this discussion. Please feel free to sign up for my newsletter to learn more

ways that Reiki can help you in your everyday life.

How to Overcome Financial Issues in Your Marriage

Fighting about money in a relationship is one of the leading causes of divorce in the United States. It’s the biggest reason people fight in relationships – more than infidelity, children, or anything else. And unfortunately, talking about money doesn’t seem to help – but that’s because people talk about it the wrong way. Instead of having a heated argument over money where everyone gets defensive, it really helps to plan out a strategy and have an honest discussion about money. Plan on how you and your partner will spend it and save it, and try to stick to the plan by helping each other. It’s not enough that both people agree on a plan, sticking to it is harder, but is worth it.

Start with small changes that you both make, and make sure each person is accountable for them. Examples of small changes are not using credit cards as often or for certain purchases, spending less on travel, taking public transportation, etc. Once you have a few of these small successes under your belt, you’ll be able to make bigger changes that will eventually really help you both and help the relationship.

There are a lot of financial decisions that need to be made with your partner:

Credit Cards — Do you both use the same card and share the bill? Do you keep separate cards and each are responsible for their own bill? What limits are involved?

Bank Accounts — Again, do you prefer a joint bank account where you share all the bills, or will you both continue to bank separately?

Debt — The debt in a relationship can really cause a lot of damage, because a lot of the time embarrassment will cause one person to hide the amount of debt from their partner. So you trade a much smaller problem that you can face together (debt) into a breach of trust in the relationship. This is potentially extremely damaging and can lead to a break up or divorce. Debt needs to be put out in the open, and a plan to pay it off that you both make together.

Savings — Creating a savings plan and sticking to it will also really help in the relationship. While it may seem tough to get through every month with what you have, it’s important to try and save a little every month. This will really help when something unexpected comes up, and the pain of saving a little each month is much less than the pain of not having any cushion when things don’t go according to plan.

Secrets — Out of all these issues, keeping secrets from your partner can be the most damaging. Whether you are hiding a separate bank account, a gambling problem, or holding out on debt – these issues pale in comparison to the continued lying and deception that is necessary to keep these secrets. The worst mistake you can make is to keep a secret – try to put it out there, because trust is much more important than money in a relationship.

Protecting Against Financial Abuse

For protection we often rely on banks, locks, password codes, credit cards, hiding places and even fighting skills. Yet, like the story of the Emperor’s New Clothes, we often deny ourselves the biggest threat to our own or organization’s wealth (and sanity).

I am talking about the addictive personality.

Here are some examples that I have personally witnessed:

A relative losing her house due to her son’s drug addictions.

(My mother’s house near break-in from harboring the mentioned drug addict.)

An associate losing money from trying to support their drug and video game addict children.

A gym owner whose gambling-addicted girlfriend put his business heavily in debt.

A military party fund that went missing to an alcoholic who had volunteered to look after it.

Rent and investments that have disappeared by trusting a drug addict.

And the list goes on.

I mention this because good health includes financial health.

Now, many people argue that the stigma of addiction is what is driving addicts towards suicide and more destructive behavior. (You will see public signs all over Vancouver stating that drug addicts are also co-workers, relatives, friends and generally nice people.) Well, the point here is to protect YOU and not intellectualize why THEY hurt your financial health. It makes as about as much sense as trying to reason with a grizzly bear or a mad dog. Forget it.

Instead, take note of the following behaviors of the addicted personalities:

1. Moody.

They often fluctuated between being sweet and charming and surly and angry.

2. Bursts over-achievement

Some addictive personalities actually perform high in academics, sales and athletics. I personally knew several high-performing martial artists and soldiers who drank heavily and fell into heavy drug use. Addictive types will so great bursts of work or productivity for short periods, giving the impression that they are high performers.

They often make a big display of any minor achievement such as doing volunteering or exercising.

3. Often sick.

4. Frequently take/request time off.

5. Frequent money problems.

They frequently borrow money or ask for pay advances from work.

6. Unethical behavior

They often lie, steal, cheat and degrade others, while co-workers and family will constantly cover up for them.

7. Often smoke

Not always, but most addicts smoke.

8. Tendency towards swearing and violence

9. Gulping alcohol

This is something that I witnessed in the military. The heavy drinkers could never just sip and enjoy a drink. They had to gulp it down. One co-worker would buy six beers at a time and down them one after another before “Happy Hour” was over.

10. Blaming others

If you ever talk to an addictive person, you will hear all about how things are “everyone else’s fault” and all of the psychological and family reasons why they excessively drink, gamble or play video games.

This list is not complete and it might even make the reader squirm a bit if it sounds too personal or “close to home.” The truth is, you are often aware that something is “not quite right” about a co-worker, employee, boss or associate and that you should keep them away from your money, home or business. Sometimes you cannot if you are a co-worker, business partner or spouse. Like martial arts, fighting and military skills, you have to be able to maintain a strong defense and preparation against such people.

It all boils down to trusting your instincts in the first place.

Stay healthy.

Stay safe.