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Your safety
Only take the actions below if it is safe to do so. You are the best judge of whether making any changes might lead to further harm. In an emergency, call 999.

Preparing to leave an abuser

If an abusive partner is using economic abuse as a form of control, this can make leaving extremely difficult. Without access to the funds needed to escape, you may feel trapped.  

If you wish to leave an abuser but don’t have access to the economic resources you need to leave, this information is for you. It may help you to think about steps you can take to prepare to leave, if this is what you have decided to do. This might include creating an escape fund and ensuring you can access to day-to-day essentials.     
 

“Money doesn’t make you happy but without money, there’s nowhere to go. That’s why, for me, economic abuse is the greatest form of control.”

Your safety 

Taking steps to leave an abuser is extremely brave decision and may feel overwhelming. Remember that you are not alone and help is available.   

Abuse can sometimes get worse when a relationship ends. We have information on what to do if you are in immediate danger or need additional support.  

Creating an escape fund 

If the abuser restricts your access to money, you may want to consider creating an escape fund that could allow you to leave. Consider carefully if you can do this safely, without being discovered by the abuser.  

Could you:  

  • ask friends or family to lend you some money?  
  • sell any unwanted items that won’t be missed?  
  • set aside a small amount of money on a regular basis without being discovered, for example, change from buying groceries? 
“I would use cash to pay for the shopping and buy some extra items that I knew I could return for a refund, like washing tablets.”

Other means of building an escape fund may include:  

A benefits advance

If you receive benefits, it is sometimes possible to get a short-term advance if you are in financial hardship. If benefits are paid directly to you and cannot be accessed by the abuser, this may be something you could explore by contacting the relevant office that deals with your benefit claim. If benefits are paid into an account used by the abuser, it may be possible to agree a transfer to another bank account to take place on an agreed date to coordinate with when you leave.   

Welfare assistance scheme or hardship fund

Many local councils have a scheme that you may be eligible to apply for, offering grants or vouchers to help pay for day-to-day essentials. You don’t have to be claiming benefits to receive help from your local council. We have more information on hardship funds and welfare assistance schemes

Charity grants

A number of charities and organisations provide grants to people in financial difficulty to help with day-to-day costs. Some funds, such as The Biscuit Fund, provide one-off grants at short notice, sometimes on the same day. A support organisation or agency, such as a domestic abuse support service, will usually need to refer you.  

Keeping your escape fund hidden 

Could you: 

Transport  

Support with the cost of public transport is available in many areas for people fleeing abuse.  

  • Rail to Refuge: A scheme run by Women’s Aid in England, Wales and Scotland. Train companies cover the cost of train tickets for people escaping domestic abuse and travelling to a refuge. The refuge will book the train ticket for you.   
  • Ride to Refuge: Some National Express services provide free bus travel for people fleeing abuse.   
  • Free travel across Northern Ireland: Free travel on bus or rail is available in Northern Ireland if you have refuge or emergency accommodation.  
  • Travel to a refuge in London: Uber will cover the cost of trips for victims to travel to 27 domestic abuse refuges in London as part of Hestia’s Fresh Start Toolkit

Things to take  

If you decide to leave, think about the items that it may be useful to take with you in addition to any money that you have. If it is safe to do so, you could keep an emergency bag in a location that is hidden from the abuser. You could give it to a trusted friend or family member before you leave.  

  • Identification, such as birth certificates and passports (for yourself and your children)
  • Documents related to your financial situation and your housing (such as mortgage details or rental agreements). We have more information on gathering important documents safely
  • Phone numbers of people you can contact, including family, friends and support services  
  • A list of services you will need to update with your new contact details so the abuser can’t access your accounts
  • Any medication for you and your children 
  • Clothing and toiletries for you and your children 
  • Cards and keys 
  • Documentation relating to the abuse, including any police reports or crime reference numbers and court orders (such as injunctions and restraining orders). Messages, emails, diaries and photos may also be useful  
  • Small items of sentimental value

Access to essentials  

Restricted funds while you are fleeing abuse may leave you struggling to cover the cost of essential items. Support that may be available includes:  

Food

Food banks provide a minimum of three days’ emergency food to people in crisis. You may need a referral from a support service, such as a domestic abuse support service, or a doctor or social worker, for example.

If your local council runs a welfare assistance scheme or hardship fund, this may include a grant or loan to help cover the cost of day-to-day essentials, including food, or food vouchers may be part of the scheme.

Accommodation 

If you are fleeing domestic abuse, you may be eligible for accommodation in a refuge or emergency accommodation provided by the local council. We have information on finding a safe place to live if you need somewhere safe to stay.  

We have information on the support that may be available to cover the cost of essentials and find accommodation if you are fleeing with children.   

Our information on grants and financial help lists some of the organisations that have hardship funds available for people in financial distress, including people experiencing abuse. We also have more information on steps you can take towards economic safety.

Last updated July 2021

Further support 

If you are experiencing economic abuse, you are not alone. We have more information that can support you to take steps towards safety and begin to regain control of your finances.

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