Understanding Financial Abuse
This is part of a pattern of controlling behaviour, where someone repeatedly dictates your choices and controls your actions, and gets violent or threatening when you don’t do as they demand.
Economic abuse is when somebody limits or controls your choices and options by interfering with your money or resources. They might restrict or stop you from having, using and maintaining your money and economic resources, like accommodation, food, clothes and transport.
This could mean:
- Keep you out of education or work.
- Limit your working hours.
- Take your pay.
- Not let you access a bank account.
- Control when and how you spend money, and what you can buy.
- Make you ask for money or control it with an allowance.
- Check your receipts and bank statements, and make you justify everything you spend money on.
- Insist your savings, house or any other assets are in their name.
- Steal your money or property.
- Refuse to help with household costs.
- Spend money needed for household costs on themselves.
- Insist all bills, credit cards and loans are in your name and make you pay for them.
- Build up debt in your name, perhaps even without you knowing.
Financial and economic abuse FAQs
There are many types of domestic abuse. If you have questions about Financial and economic abuse, you might find the answer below.
- Stealing your money.
- Forcing you to give them all your salary.
- Making you get credit cards or loans and leaving you with the debt.
Financial abuse is a type of economic abuse. It’s very commonly experienced by domestic abuse victims. The abuser might control or restrict how you gain money. They could limit how you use money and economic resources. Or they could sabotage your economic independence.
- Controlling or restricting how you gain money.
- Limiting how you use money and economic resources.
- Sabotaging your economic independence.
- Being told how to spend your money, and stopping you from spending it.
- Controlling your means to make money, or interfering with your work to sabotage you.
- Insisting on managing your finances by transferring your assets to their name, or asking you to sign financial documents that you have very little or no information about.
- Taking out debt in your name.
Financial abuse is a form of domestic abuse and coercive control. Aspects of financial abuse are criminal offences. Such as:
- Taking out money or getting credit in your name without your knowledge or permission.
- Forcing you to hand over control of your accounts.
- Cashing your cheques without your authorisation.
- Adding their name to your account without permission.
Here are some steps you can take to recover from financial abuse and move towards economic safety.
If you’re worried about your safety and economic situation, support is available. There are some immediate steps you can take to protect yourself and begin to regain control.
Only take the following actions if it’s safe to do so. You’re the best judge of whether making any changes might lead to further harm.
1. Get expert money advice
The Financial Support Line for Victims of Domestic Abuse offers specialist advice to people experiencing domestic abuse who are in financial difficulty.
01323 635 987
Mon – Fri 9-1pm & 2-5pm
Organisations like stepchange.org and nationaldebtline.org also have qualified advisers trained to offer specialist debt advice. They can outline your potential options for dealing with your debts and help you make important financial decisions.
Always speak to a qualified debt adviser before doing anything to tackle your debts. Some debt solutions can have serious long-term consequences.
2. Gathering financial records and information
Many banks and building societies have signed up to the UK Finance Financial Abuse Code of Practice. This means they’re committed to informing victims of domestic abuse about assets and liabilities held in their name.
Here are some questions you can ask a bank or building society:
- “Do I have assets, like a property, a car or savings?”
- “Are there debts in my name (or joint names), like a credit card, mortgage or loan?”
- If you’re renting, “Is the tenancy in my name?”
- “Am I responsible for the bills?”
- “Do I have a bank account in my name?”
3. Gathering important documents
If it’s safe, gather original financial documents or copies. This means you’ll have relevant documents if you leave and need to open bank accounts, claim benefits, or prove economic abuse.
This could mean your:
- Passport (and your children’s)
- Driving licence
- Birth certificate (and your children’s)
- Bank statement