Society envies these women, who on the face of it seem to live a pampered life.
According to their stories, they live lives of poverty because their super rich husbands make them do ridiculous things to get money.
They live in the lap of luxury yet are given so little financial independence they can’t even buy themselves a cup of coffee.
Diana Parker, a partner at legal firm Withers says that economic cruelty is regularly coupled with ‘very controlling frightening behaviour which strips a woman of self-esteem’.
Diana recalls one particularly harrowing case of a woman who was regularly presented with a ‘menu’ listing sexual acts, each of which had a price tag, as her only means of accessing money.
‘There will be a significant number of your readers being abused economically who may be paraded on nights out in expensive diamond brooches, but have to justify every penny spent, on a sandwich or a coffee, while they are interrogated about who they were with when they bought it, ‘was it a girlfriend, or really a boyfriend?’.
‘And the men in these relationships will often have bought themselves a new Ferrari or returned from a weekend’s shooting.’
Vanessa Lloyd-Platt, whose firm represents women divorcing wealthy entrepreneurs, celebrities, MPs and even judges, is also all too familiar with financial abuse within marriages and often hears of wives being told they must perform sexual favours in return for cash or access to bank cards.
‘I’ve acted on behalf of wives who have been told by their wealthy husbands: “I’ll give you some money but you have to have sex with me tonight”, or who insisted their partners do something se3ually they wouldn’t normally want to do, to earn it,’ says Vanessa.
‘Clients tell me this makes them feel like prostitutes, it’s something they don’t even admit to their best friends.
‘We’ve also had cases where women have had to phone their husband’s secretary and say, “I’m going out and have no money, can you put some on my debit card?” and the secretary will interrogate them about what they need the money for. Later they know they will be asked to provide receipts to prove it.
‘Husbands will often spend huge amounts on these “trophy wives”, but that is only if they wear what they want them to wear, drive the exact car they want them to drive and go where they want them to go. They have no financial freedom.’
Vanessa recalls one penniless client, whose husband ran a huge multi-national, who was forced to borrow money from friends to buy regular underwear because he would only purchase se3y lingerie for her, but then locked it away in a safe when he wasn’t around, leaving her literally knickerless.
Another husband took his wife’s toothbrush and toothpaste when he went away on business and left no money for replacements.
Then there was the woman whose husband insisted she work for free in his business, but would refuse to pay the nanny, and the gardener who tended their perfectly manicured lawns, leaving her thoroughly humiliated when they asked her for their wages and she had no way of remunerating them.
‘This husband would say ‘If you’re nice to me I’ll pay the nanny this week’,’ says Vanessa.
‘She hated the fact that when mums from her children’s expensive school invited her on nights out she would have to tell them she couldn’t go because she couldn’t afford it, and they would look at her incredulously, assuming she was just too stuck up to socialise with them. People’s perception of the wealthy is that they have wonderful lives, but money can often complicate relationships and they can be some of the unhappiest people on the planet.’