Financial Abuse is Rampant in Millennial Relationships

Sixty percent of millennials surveyed reported that a romantic partner used money to manipulate or gain power and control in a relationship. Just as many said a romantic partner had either lied about money, or hid money or debt from them. Seventy-eight percent said financial institutions have a responsibility to educate consumers on the issue. The results are from a recent CentSai survey of 2,000 millennials, aged 18 to 35.

The findings are double the number of respondents who said they were victims of financial abuse or infidelity (30%) one year ago. This year’s survey asked about specific relationship behaviors that constitute financial infidelity or abuse. This is in contrast to the 2016 survey that asked respondents directly if they had ever been victims of financial abuse or infidelity.

Financial abuse is a tactic used by a romantic or life partner to gain power and control in a relationship. Forms of financial abuse may vary in how subtle or overt they are, but generally include tactics to limit a partner’s access to assets and family finances. Financial infidelity occurs when one partner in a couple with combined finances lies to the other about money, such as hiding significant debts in a secret account.

“The results indicate that many millennials aren’t aware of behaviors that characterize financial abuse or financial infidelity – or millennials may not identify themselves with the ‘victim’ label,” said Doria Lavagnino, CentSai co-founder and president. “Either way, a majority of millennials want financial institutions to do more to provide education about this topic.”

Sixty-nine percent of female survey respondents reported experiencing behavior from their partners that would constitute financial abuse, while 68% reported behaviors constituting financial infidelity. Forty percent of male respondents reported financial abuse in relationships, while nearly half reported financial infidelity.

Seventy-two percent of the total respondents said they are very or somewhat aware about the issues of financial infidelity and abuse. Ending the relationship was the most cited consequence of financial abuse or infidelity, with eighty-five percent saying that they would end a relationship if they found that their partner was financially abusive or unfaithful. Other cited consequences include emotional turmoil, debt and ruined credit scores. Less than ten percent reported no consequences.

“Chances are that in many relationships, perpetrators are not even aware that their behavior constitutes financial abuse or infidelity,” Lavagnino said. “Our hope is that surveys like this and the information we provide on our platform will increase awareness about this issue.”

Financial Abuse in Millennial Relationships Infographic

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Abuse takes many forms and sometimes we don’t even recognize it. I was imprisoned by financial dependence for 6 years before I realized how he was using money to control me and the kids. Now I’m independent and happy!