If your partner or former partner controls how you make or spend money, or other areas of your life, including housing, food and employment, you may be experiencing economic abuse.
This information may support you to identify whether you are experiencing economic abuse and to think about the next steps that you might take.
Economic abuse can be difficult to identify. It can develop slowly and could begin with behaviour that at first seems protective or caring, for example, offering to take care of all the finances or encouraging you not to work so that you can look after the children. Over-spending, or building up debts in your name or joint names, can also develop slowly and may not be obvious at first. Some women may have lived with economic abuse for many years, and it can continue after leaving.
Despite the difficulties in recognising economic abuse, it is very common. One in six women in the UK has experienced economic abuse by a current or former partner.
If you can answer ‘yes’ to one or more of the following questions, you may be experiencing economic abuse.
Has your current or former partner ever:
If you are experiencing economic abuse, you are not alone. There are people and organisations who can help you take steps to reach safety and regain control of your finances.
Only take any of the following actions if it is safe for you to do so. You are the best judge of whether taking any actions might lead to further harm.
Economic abuse rarely happens in isolation; it normally happens alongside other forms of domestic abuse. If you are in immediate danger, call the police on 999. We have information on how the police can help.
If you are not in immediate danger but need support, you can call a domestic abuse helpline or contact your local domestic abuse service. You can search for your local service on the Women’s Aid website or on Hestia’s Bright Sky app. Many charities have ways to contact them online, which may help you hide the contact from the abuser.
Our Financial Support Line, run in partnership with Money Advice Plus, offers specialist advice to people experiencing domestic abuse who are in financial difficulty. The advice may help you to regain control of your finances.
If it is safe to do so, speaking to someone at your bank or building society can be a useful step to help you regain control of your money. They may be able to suggest ways of de-linking your finances from those of the abuser, and of ensuring any new banking information is safe.
If the abuser has forced you to make transactions that have led you into debt, it is important to speak to a qualified debt advisor. They can help you to find the right debt solution for you, depending on your circumstances.
If you are facing economic abuse and are in financial difficulty, you may be able to apply for a grant to help with day-to-day expenses.
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