Safety from Financial Abuse

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIs someone at your workplace being financially abused? Financial abuse, like physical, emotional, and sexual abuse, is a real threat to you and your employees’ mental health. However, while the above topics are great social taboos, financial abuse is an even less talked about topic.

Many employees who are financially abused, if their spouses allow them to work, work small, part time jobs. Nonprofits are an example of such a workplace. If you run a nonprofit, you may be privy to more personal details about your employees’ lives, and you may notice some red flags. You can reach out to your employee, but if this makes you uncomfortable, you could ask your nonprofit auditor in Northern VA, or whatever your region, to speak to your employees about their financial health.  If you run a small business in Northern VA, a Northern VA business auditor may work as well. Because it is considered rude to pry into someone else’s finances, it may be difficult to know your employee’s situation. However, you can still be helpful, by speaking to your employees as a group about financial abuse and letting them know you are here to help.

As an employer, it is not impossible to be drawn into an unhealthy financial dynamic. If your employee is financially abused, you may risk losing him or her. Often financially abusive partners offer spouses an ultimatum: quit your job or lose our relationship. As with any form of abuse, the actions largely surround control. A financially abusive spouse will often try to sabotage a partner’s career, and thus, his or her financial independence.

Forced career choices are just one way in which a partner may control your employee. Other signs of financial abuse include:

  • Partners tracking every penny spent. As we have mentioned, abuse is about control.
  • Your employee does not have his/her own bank account. Even though couples generally have joint accounts, it is normal and healthy to maintain a personal account as well, especially when spouses have separate sources of income.
  • Threatening to withhold funding or leave, knowing that the partner cannot support him/herself.
  • Exploiting a partner’s finances. Financial abusers can be the main breadwinners or dependants, forcing spouses to carry all the household financial burdens without contributing to income or domestic duties.

If you are being financially abused, or suspect your employee is, there are ways to step in. Speaking with your company’s Northern VA business accountant may offer some insights. There are escape routes for the victims of financial abuse. Many financially abused spouses have escaped by claiming they are volunteering while working in secret, or working from home or online. Some take online courses to advance their skill-set, saving little by little until they can escape. Building credit by establishing a secure credit card kept at a friend’s house may also be helpful. When you or your employee is able to physically leave, government assistance and food stamps can help until you can land on your feet. Financial security is just one more way to feel safe in the workplace.