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.

Am I experiencing economic abuse?

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. 

Recognising economic abuse

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. 

“I had not consciously realised that economic abuse was taking place… I was so focused on trying to protect myself from physical harm and keep my family safe that I only became aware of the economic abuse and the extent of it once I had left.”

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.

“I am not a stupid woman. This could happen to anybody.”

Spot the signs of economic abuse

“He had access to all of my bank statements and accounts. I didn’t know anything about his finances.”

“He applied for multiple loans in my name by using the app on my phone. Loans for over £50,000 in total.”

“Even after separating, he said that if I didn’t do his washing and cooking, he wouldn’t pay child maintenance.”

“He watched me enter my PIN and stole money from my account, threatening harm if I changed it.”

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: 

  • stopped you from having the money you needed to buy food, clothes or other essentials, or to pay the bills? 
  • dictated how you must spend money?  
  • insisted you give them receipts or change from any purchases?  
  • hidden money so you couldn’t find it?  
  • kept important financial information from you?  
  • made you ask for money when you needed it?  
  • stopped you from having a job or going to work, or made it difficult for you to do so?  
  • forced you to get a credit card or loan?  
  • made you buy something on credit when you didn’t want to?  
  • taken out a credit card or loan in your name?  
  • bought something on your credit card without your knowledge or consent? 
  • made you buy things for them or pay their bills when you didn’t want to?  
  • spent their money however they wanted while your money was used for essentials? 
  • stolen things from you?  
  • put bills in your name so you had to pay them?  
  • built up debt in your name?  
  • forced you to give them savings or wages?  
  • stopped you from having or accessing a bank account?  
  • made you sign papers without telling you what they were for?  
  • broken or destroyed your possessions?  
See our Economic Abuse Guide to explore in more detail whether
you might be experiencing economic abuse.

Next steps

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.

Call the police

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.

Contact a domestic abuse support service

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.

Call the Financial Support Line

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.

Contact your bank

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.

Speak to a qualified debt advisor

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.

Explore grants and financial help

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.