What is economic abuse?

In the context of domestic violence, economic abuse is defined as:

Behaviours that interfere with a woman’s ability to acquire, use and maintain economic
resources (Adams et al. 2008).

The term is often used interchangeably with financial abuse. Financial abuse involves similar
behaviours but specifically in relation to money and not economic resources (such as
housing, food, clothes and transportation) more broadly.

Any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive, threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are, or have been, intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality. The abuse can encompass, but is not limited to the following types of abuse: psychological, physical, sexual, financial or emotional (Home Office, 2012)

Economic abuse is designed to reinforce or create economic dependence. In this way it
limits women’s choices and ability to access safety. Lack of access to economic resources
can result in women staying with abusive men for longer and experiencing more harm as a
result. When women experience economic abuse within a context of coercive control then
they are at increased risk of domestic homicide (Websdale, 1999).

Women accessing specialist domestic violence services report high rates of economic abuse;
anywhere between 43-98 per cent (Sharp, 2008). In a national prevalence study, one in five
women reported having experienced economic abuse in a current/former relationship
(Sharp-Jeffs, 2015).

Economic instability can lead women to return to the abuser. Economic stability is therefore
integral to safety.