That isn’t always easy for clients to do, according to Hennigan.

“I’ve had women in front of me in tears after believing they had millions of dollars reserved for retirement and then find out that their husbands spent it all,” she said. “They didn’t realize there was a problem in the marriage until it was too late.”

Financial Advisor talked with Hennigan about financial abuse, how to spot it and what to do about it.

FA: What is financial abuse?

CH: Simply put, financial abuse is when one party limits or threatens to limit access to financial funds or resources as a meant of controlling the other party.

FA: How does financial abuse differ from domestic abuse?

CH: They’re both forms of domestic violence. Domestic violence is when a person tries to control a relationship using controlling behavior, such as physical, emotional, psychological, sexual or financial abuse.

One in four women will experience some form of domestic violence in their lifetime. Ninety-nine percent of those cases will involve some form of financial domestic abuse, which is a primary reason the victims stay with or return to their abusive relationship.

FA: What was the most surprising disclosure your client made to you regarding her finances as a victim of financial abuse?

CH: Unfortunately, there are surprises every day. I have seen everything from being shot by a spouse to secret lives overseas with prostitutes to gambling additions and squandering away marital assets.