The primary effect on a relationship is likely to be a deterioration of trust. The person on the receiving end of abusive behaviour may lose faith that their partner will always act in their best interests – often having accumulated plenty of evidence to support this. The behaviour degrades the sense of ‘team’ in the relationship and increases feelings of isolation and resentment.
It’s not just the fact that money has been taken or spent, but that their partner has been dishonest about it, sometimes repeatedly or for long periods of time. This breakdown of trust can lead to long-term resentment – especially if the other person doesn’t recognise their actions, take responsibility for them or even apologise.
If one person is being seriously or deliberately abusive when it comes to finances, then the other person’s self-esteem, self-worth and confidence are likely to be seriously affected. If financial abuse has been taking place for a long time, this person is likely to feel like they’re trapped in the relationship with no way out.
On a practical level, if the financial abuse has led to a significant amount of money being lost, the practical consequences can be massive: the family home might be lost, businesses may have to close, they may end up in serious debt, bills may go unpaid and so on. At this point, the feeling may be that the person who has been spending has torn apart their lives in a very real way – a perception likely to be much worse if there are children involved.