Economic abuse

Abusers may seek to control your access to money or resources. We can support you to take back control.

Regain financial independence.

Our trained outreach and refuge workers can support you to manage your financial situation.

What is economic abuse?

Economic abuse can take many forms and involves an abuser restricting a person’s ability to acquire, use and maintain money or other economic resources. It includes:

  • Controlling your money or other financial assets
  • Spending your money
  • Damaging your possessions or property
  • Putting debt in your name
  • Preventing you from accessing education or work
  • Withholding child maintenance payments

Economic abuse can be tricky to identify. We’ve put together this list of questions to help you spot the signs:

  • Does your partner/abuser prevent you from working, or stop you from going to work?
  • Does your partner/abuser prevent you from going to college or university?
  • Does your partner/abuser ask you to account for every penny you spend?
  • Does your partner/abuser check your receipts or bank statements so they can monitor how much you are spending?
  • Does your partner/abuser keep the log-in details, bank cards or PIN numbers for your joint account so that you cannot access the account?
  • Does your partner/abuser spend money allocated to bills for other things?
  • Does your partner/abuser steal, damage or destroy your possessions?
  • Does your partner/abuser spend whatever they want, but prevent you from spending any money?
  • Does your partner/abuser insist on control of all financial matters?
  • Does your partner/abuser insist that all the bills and loans are in your name?
  • Does your partner/abuser make you ask permission before making any purchase, no matter how small?
  • Does your partner/abuser make significant financial decisions without you (e.g. buying a new home, car)?
  • Does your partner/abuser place debts in your name?
  • Does your partner/abuser steal money from you, or use your bank card without permission?
  • Does your partner/abuser withhold child maintenance payments?
  • Does your partner/abuser initiate expensive post-separation legal battles knowing you cannot afford to fight, or will bankrupt you?

What can I do?

  • Speak to an adviser from the National Domestic Abuse Helpline, or speak to one of our advisers using our live chat, open Monday to Friday, 3-10pm.
  • Meet with/speak to an Independent Domestic Violence Advocate (IDVA)
  • Freeze any joint accounts if it is safe to do so
  • Change PIN numbers and online banking passwords
  • Consider changing email and other online account password if it is safe to do so
  • Check your credit score to see if there are any debts in your name. Survivors can complete a free credit with the following agencies: Credit Karma, Money Saving Expert and Clear Score. We advise the use of all 3 as this gives the survivor a clear picture of their financial situation. Please do not pay for a credit check as you can have credit checks completed for free.
  • Know where important financial documents are kept: keep copies in an emergency bag or with a friend
  • Consider talking to a financial expert — free services such as PayPlan, Citizens Advice, StepChange, or the Money Advice Service exist
  • Identify which benefits you are entitled to. Use a benefits calculator.
  • Create an escape fund: put aside small amounts of money

Before downloading a PDF: If you think someone is accessing your phone or computer, please do not download this PDF.