The Link Between Narcissism and Financial Abuse.
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Although it’s not always the case, there is a strong correlation between narcissism and domestic violence. When a narcissist is abusive, it is most commonly referred to as narcissistic abuse. Many people may think that narcissists just use emotional or physical means to control their victims. However, there is another method used in narcissistic abuse that can be even more damaging. Since October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, it’s important to shed light on one of the most common but unspoken forms of domestic violence, financial abuse.
Narcissism, or narcissistic personality disorder, is a condition in which a person has an inflated sense of oneself. This is often paired with a lack of empathy and a need for an excessive amount of attention and admiration. Narcissists tend to be motivated by extrinsic factors such as money, power, and status. Because of this, narcissists struggle immensely with intimate relationships.
Often, dating a narcissistic person can be a troubling experience. Narcissists go after people that are the opposite of them because they are easier to control. Those people are usually more empathetic and value personal fulfillment, fairness, and friendships. Since narcissists demand special attention and to be treated as superior, they are more likely to use abuse as a means to get what they want. Common tactics used in narcissistic abuse include gaslighting, manipulation, and verbal attacks. But what is just as common, and not as visible, is the use of financial abuse.
Financial abuse involves controlling a victim’s ability to make, access, or use any of their own money. Money is one of the most powerful ways to trap a victim. The Center for Financial Security found that 99% of domestic abuse victims experience some form of financial abuse. Narcissists use money as a way to make their partners feel dependent and inferior. By restricting their partner’s access to money, the victim is forced to become reliant on their abuser, since they have no resources to leave. Financial abuse is also the most common reason people return to their abuser, yet, many don’t notice financial abuse in their lives.
Money as a Weapon.
Many narcissists associate money and status with power. Because of this, money is often used as a weapon to gain control over the relationship. Some common ways narcissistic abusers control their victims are by withholding their finances, stealing their money, sabotaging their credit, or preventing them from getting a job. Doing this causes the victim to be reliant on their abuser and prevents them from obtaining any financial or personal freedom.
What to Do if You Suspect Financial Abuse.
Some narcissistic abusers don’t make financial abuse obvious. Many narcissists will even lie about their financial situation, or take control over your money without you knowing. One way to check if you are being financially abused is by looking at a credit score report or bank statement.
Unfortunately, credit scores play a huge factor in financial freedom. Purchases that allow you to be safe and independent, such as buying a home, require specific credit score ranges. Abusers know this and will try to damage your score by opening lines of credit with your name and creating massive debt on your account. You can get a free credit report to see if there are any discrepancies in your credit. Likewise, if you notice big withdrawals from your bank account or purchases made without your consent, it could be a good indicator that you are being financially abused.
Narcissistic financial abuse is a serious matter. It can cause many to go into severe poverty and prevent victims from escaping their situations. Your safety is more important than anything. If you are a victim of financial abuse, do not call out your abuser, as this can make it even more dangerous for you. Instead, talk with a trusted friend, family member, or the Domestic Violence Support Hotline about your situation to help plan your escape. No matter how bad the financial damage is, recovery is possible. There are many resources available to help guide you through this process and get you back on your feet.
Many people still don’t know about narcissistic financial abuse and the long-term effects it has. Knowledge is power. To help prevent others from falling victim to financial abuse, we must first talk about it. That is why it is important, especially this coming month, that we spread awareness around this topic to help put an end to financial abuse.
I was financially abused by my ex-husband, a narcissist, for seven years. He lied to me, hid the fact that he wasn’t paying any of our bills but was instead withdrawing money daily from our bank account from the ATM at the local liquor store until we were broke. He maxed out our credit cards until we finally had to file bankruptcy. I filed for divorce and have since rebuilt my credit and recovered from PTSD. The entire time I was married to him he lied to me, stole from me, gaslighted me until I felt like I was going crazy. My advice to anyone in a relationship with a narcissist is to get out. Trust your instincts. Stand up for yourself. And take control of your own finances. Don’t allow yourself to be bullied. Put your paychecks into your own checking account and keep all of your finances separate. Live and learn.
Thank you for sharing your experiences and for your suggestions.