When a narcissist keeps you hostage by controlling the finances

Narcissists want to separate you from everyone in your life, so you have no one to turn to but the narcissist. Once you are isolated and dependent on them, it is easier for them to control and abuse you. When I was married to my first narcissist ex–“Narc-light,” I remember looking around the house where we lived together, and thinking “every single thing in this house except for my clothes, toiletries and some books is all his. Wouldn’t it be nice to feel like an adult and be in control of my own life?” I don’t think I even realized I was being financially abused yet, but I definitely felt like I was an adult who was not free to live as an adult. I was nothing more than someone who lived in my husband’s home, sat on his furniture, ate his food and used his shower. I didn’t have anything to show for my life, or anything that would be mine if I wasn’t with him. Later, when I was free, I remember looking around my apartment at my own belongings–including my dining room and bedroom sets I assembled myself–and thinking, finally, I had something for me. I was an independent adult.

But before I left my husband, I really had no say over anything. In fact, I felt like I owed my husband the best of everything because I didn’t work. He repeatedly reminded me that I didn’t work, and sometimes told me I was worthless because of it…even though it was HIS idea! He reminded me of his girlfriends before me who had good jobs, then compared me to them. It was a no-win situation. I wasn’t allowed to work, (when I tried to get jobs, he raged until I gave up,) but yet he made it clear that he was mad at me for not working.

Before I met and married Narclight, I was in a long co-dependent relationship with another man who frequently quit his jobs and leaned on me to support him. I got tired of that, and just happened to meet the Narc around the same time. The Narc told me he loved the idea of being the breadwinner so his wife could stay home and raise kids. I started working at age 15 and had always been a hard worker–taking lots of hours and overtime, and sometimes two or more jobs at a time. So, when the Narc told me he wanted to support me, it sounded really wonderful. It sounded like a nice break! He had a pretty good job and was very responsible financially, which appealed to me after having supported my ex boyfriend for so long. I wanted to be a stay at home mom, and this sounded like a dream come true.

But it came at a high cost. My husband always reminded me that he worked and I didn’t, so I felt obligated to demean myself and let him be the “master” of the house. I always put him first, and I apologized for upsetting him when he kept yelling at me. As time went on, I began to realize he was an abuser, (with the help of my therapist,) but I felt like I didn’t know how to get out. We lived in Los Angeles, so there was no way I could afford to live alone even if I did have a decent job. I started looking for jobs I might be qualified for, and I started looking at apartment costs, and I panicked because I did the math over and over, but I simply could not afford to live on my own.

This is just one example of a way a narcissist can keep you under control with financial abuse. But there are others:

1. The narcissist will tell you if you leave, they will refuse to pay child support
2. The will remind you that if they make more money, they will “beat” you in court
3. They will refuse to pay child-support or alimony which quite often leaves you desperate and hanging
4. If they think you might try to leave, they will close bank accounts and credit cards so you can’t access any money to get away
5. They will remind you of the money they’ve spent on you and make you feel like you owe them
6. They will hide assets, so if you divorce, you are cheated
7. They will keep you dependent on them for the bare necessities

and so many other ways.

For some of us, these are real concerns. You may struggle without the narcissist’s financial “help,” but the freedom is worth it. One day, you can come home and look around and realize your life is under your own control again. No matter how humble it is, that is a great feeling!

5 thoughts on “When a narcissist keeps you hostage by controlling the finances

  1. Wow this is me this is my life only I cant get away. I nothing no koney no phone no car nothing he is all i have and i hate myself for it. I hatr him. I wish i had on friend where I live would beable to run away never look back.

  2. It’s my situation too. Every single point. He has withheld finances and punished us. Sick evil and rotten to the core

  3. Wow…just wow…this is ME!! I too was supporting a jerk and wanting out when I was ‘rescued’ from that by a narc that made me feel bad for not working yet undermined EVERY attempt I made at working or becoming educated!! He kept me in a guilty state and brutally abused me for over 20 yrs. Now I’m free and he only pays what he feels like paying. I am chronically on the edge of homelessness.

  4. I am going through hell because of this right now. After more than 20 years together, I was left for someone else. He wouldn’t let me work or go back to school to train. My credit card & phone have been cut off, our joint bank account was drained. I can handle those things, I am managing to scrape by (have gotten a part time job, my own phone in my own name/own cards) but this man will not communicate with me AT ALL. I am triggered & upset more often than not. He fired his lawyer (6 weeks ago) & will not tell me who the new one is. He will not negotiate a separation agreement so we can divide our assets…there is money that belongs TO ME & I can’t have it because it’s being held in trust until an agreement is signed. I am struggling so much. He left me, he got all the furniture, the car,etc,,, and he still controls everything because I cannot make him do anything, I am stuck. I can’t afford my own lawyer anymore so I had to end that. I have applied to legal aid & am waiting to hear. I am scared that a new lawyer will not be able to properly help me, but I am out of options.

  5. This is my nightmare as well, 29 years married, stated a business together 23 years ago, he convinced me to “not” put my name on it and just be an employee and “secretary” of the company as it would be better for tax purposes.

    Now we are separating, not my doing, it’s been 6 months and he will not budge with negotiations ir valuing the business (I own 50% of assets due to marriage) the business has been on a decline the last few years (his doing) I fought to get in on track but he would sabatoge it every change, I’m almist certain he has hidden $$ and assets for years as I knew he had exited our marriage long ago. He would play crazy making games with my head, I just recently realized exactly that I’ve been dealing with a sick man. I own half our house and want to see “yesterday” but can’t as I don’t have a
    Signed agreement yet and the markets going down down down, he’s ok with that tho as I will be left with no profit that way. We have a child still at home with me and one grown, he’s playing the good daddy by buying their support and live, money talks right??
    I’m in limbo and I’m gettibg very very tired!!!

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