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.
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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. A local domestic abuse organisation will be able to support you to develop a safety plan if you have decided to leave.
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.
Other means of building an escape fund may include:
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.
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.
Some financial services providers, including banks and building societies, also have a hardship fund for customers in financial difficulty. They may also have a specific fund available for customers fleeing domestic abuse. You can ask your financial services provider if they have a fund like this and how you can access it.
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.
There is a lot that employers can do to support employees experiencing economic abuse. This may include offering an advance salary payment or a grant, for example through a hardship fund available for employees in difficult circumstances. We have more information on how your employer may be able to help.
Keeping your escape fund hidden
If you are planning to withdraw funds from a bank account that the abuser has access to, think about whether an unusual withdrawal could alert the abuser to your plans to leave.
Remember that your bank statement may show the location of a cash machine used to make a withdrawal. If you withdraw funds after leaving, you may choose to do this from a cash machine near to where you currently live instead of where you are fleeing to, to keep your new location secure. Check with your bank whether the location would be shown on your bank statement if you were to withdraw the funds over the counter in a branch.
Support with the cost of public transport is available in many areas for people fleeing abuse.
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.
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 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.
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 if you are fleeing with children. This includes information on support with the cost of essentials and finding accommodation.
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 January 2023
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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