Economic abuse-steps to economic safety
This factsheet is for male victims of domestic abuse who need information and support to overcome economic abuse. The factsheet is reproduced with the kind permission and support of Surviving Economic Abuse.
Economic abuse is part of a pattern of controlling or coercive behaviour where abusers repeatedly dictate their partner’s choices and control their everyday actions, becoming violent or threatening if their demands are refused.
If a current or former partner has interfered with your money or economic resources to limit your choices and options, you may have been a victim of economic abuse.
Those who are economically abusive may prevent or restrict how you acquire, use and maintain money and economic resources such as accommodation, food, clothing and transportation.
Some of the behaviours that make up economic abuse are listed below. This is not a complete list but covers the most common patterns of behaviour that make up economic abuse.
If your partner has controlled or restricted how you gain money and economic resources by:
If your partner has limited how you have used money and economic resources by:
If your partner has sabotaged your economic independence by:
Economic abuse creates economic instability by limiting choices and restricting the victim’s ability to access safety. It is a barrier to an independent life as economic abuse can, and does, continue after separation.
The impact of economic abuse makes rebuilding lives challenging. Many victims leave with nothing and have to start again with very little. Victims are also often left in debt or owing money and the lack of financial security impacts on their ability to rebuild their lives.
Victims may stay with an abusive partner for longer than they would want to, experiencing more harm as a result. Economic stability is therefore linked to physical safety.
Economic abuse rarely happens in isolation and is often part of a larger pattern of physical and psychological abuse.
Economic abuse is a new area of recognised abuse and it can be hard to explain to friends, families and professionals without the knowledge and understanding of economic abuse. Physical safety does not always stop economic abuse.
If you are worried about your safety and your economic situation, support is available. There are some immediate steps you can take to protect yourself and begin to regain control.
Only take any of the following actions if it is safe to do so. You are the best judge of whether making any changes might lead to further harm.
The Financial Support Line for Victims of Domestic Abuse (01323 635 987 – Mon – Fri 9-1pm & 2-5pm) is run in partnership between Surviving Economic Abuse (SEA) and Money Advice Plus. It offers specialist advice to people experiencing domestic abuse who are in financial difficulty.
Organisations including StepChange and National Debtline also have qualified advisers trained to offer specialist debt advice. They can outline the options you may have for dealing with your debts and help you to make any important financial decisions.
It is important not to take action to tackle debts until you speak to a qualified debt adviser, as some debt solutions can have serious long-term consequences.
Many banks and building societies have signed up to the UK Finance Financial Abuse Code of Practice. This means they have committed to inform victims of domestic abuse about assets and liabilities held in their name.
Some questions you can start with include:
Where it is safe to do so only, gather documents or copies of these so you have relevant documents should you leave and need to open bank accounts, claim benefits, or prove economic abuse.
Important documents can include:
You may wish to keep these documents with a trusted friend or family member, rather than somewhere in your home if the abuser also lives there or has access to your home.
If you are unable to take the original documents with you safely, scanned copies, a picture or a screenshot of the documents may also be useful. Apps such as Bright Sky let you upload photos in a secure way, without any content being saved on the device you use.
Find out what benefits you are entitled to
Some charities and organisations provide grants to people in financial difficulty. Search on the Turn2Us website to find out whether you might be eligible for any grants to provide financial assistance. We have a list of some grants that you may be eligible to receive.
Local council welfare assistance scheme
Many local councils have a welfare assistance scheme for people on a low income who are experiencing financial difficulty. Contact your local council to see if they have a scheme and to find out whether you are eligible. Some offer loans, grants or support in other ways, such as food vouchers.
Contact your local foodbank
If you need help with emergency food, you can contact your local foodbank. You may need a referral from a local advice agency, but they will be able to point you in the right direction.