Domestic abusers controlling survivors’ cash rife with 5.5 million UK women experiencing economic abuse

New research by the charity Surviving Economic Abuse exposes economic abuse rife across the UK as domestic abusers control the cash and belongings of one in five women. This is equivalent to 5.5 million UK women experiencing economic abuse in the last year.

Over 2,000 UK women, a nationally representative sample surveyed by Opinium on behalf of the charity, were asked whether they had experienced economically abusive behaviours from a current or former partner in the last 12 months, with the survey finding:

  • One in 11 women have had access to their bank account restricted by a current or ex-partner – equivalent to almost 2.5 million people.
  • One in 9 women have been stopped from accessing vital and personal belongings such as food, shampoo, or even medication – equivalent to almost 3 million people
  • One in 13 women have had credit taken out in their name without their consent or their credit rating deliberately destroyed – equivalent to 2.1 million people
  • Shockingly economic abuse was shown to disproportionately affect younger women, with 35% of victim-survivors aged between 18 and 24.
  • The research also found that Black, Asian and other women from ethnic minority backgrounds were nearly twice as likely to experience economic abuse than White women – with 32% reporting experiencing economic abuse compared to 18% of White women.

Economic abuse is a devastating form of coercive and controlling behaviour that involves the control of a partner or ex-partner’s money, finances or the things money can buy. It often traps victim-survivors with the abuser, leaving them at risk of further harm and destroys their ability to rebuild their lives when they flee. This can even force some victim-survivors to return to an abuser.

Worryingly, despite the long-lasting and damaging impact of this form of abuse, one in three women didn’t reach out to anyone for advice or support for the economic abuse.

That’s why to coincide with Economic Abuse Awareness Day, Surviving Economic Abuse is putting a spotlight on this hidden form of abuse to raise awareness of economic abuse to encourage more victim-survivors to reach out for support.

In recognition of the key role banks play in stopping economic abuse, the charity is launching a new Banking Support Directory. This new online tool brings together in one place all the support the UK’s major banks and building societies offer economic abuse survivors, making it easier for them to contact their bank for help.

Anna* was with her abusive partner for seven years. He was in and out of work, often losing his job and forcing Anna to support him financially. They owned a property together and when she left, the economic abuse increased. He decided to remain in the property refusing to pay the mortgage, refusing to sell, and refusing to leave.

“I was too scared to go back to our home so I had to move back in with my parents, scraping together enough money to pay the mortgage and bills completely on my own.  I needed help from the bank, but I couldn’t believe how difficult it was. No-one understood that I’d been abused– all they cared about was that I paid back the loan. I felt completely trapped and the toll this took on my mental health was extreme. I was getting calls every day asking why I hadn’t paid back the mortgage, even though I’d explained my situation multiple times. Having to relive the abuse so many times was traumatising.

“The property was finally repossessed years after I had left the relationship. I was free from abuse, but my credit score was so low, I couldn’t even get a phone contract in my own name. It felt like I’d never be able to move on.

“Finally, I reached someone who could help me, who treated me with dignity and respect and validated what I’d been through. They were able to help me restore my credit rating and regain some stability. They changed my life – but it shouldn’t have taken years to get there.”

Dr Nicola Sharp-Jeffs, CEO and founder of Surviving Economic Abuse, said: “These new statistics highlighting the prevalence of economic abuse are just breathtaking. Domestic abusers across the country are controlling the cash and belongings of millions.  And it’s ruining lives. If you’ve got no access to your own money or you’re drowning in debt, it only makes you feel even more trapped with an abuser and unable to manage alone.

“It’s no wonder so many women feel like there’s nowhere to turn for help. This Economic Abuse Awareness Day, we want to make sure victim-survivors know that this form of abuse is not ok and there is help at hand. That’s why we’ve launched the Banking Support Directory, an online one-stop shop setting out how banks can help so survivors can quickly and easily access the support they need.

“The skyrocketing cost of living only makes freedom feel further out of reach for victim-survivors.  Now more than ever they need support to help them, and their children escape and rebuild their lives. That’s why we want to see the government and banks working together to end economic abuse forever.”

For further information or to arrange an interview with a victim-survivor or SEA spokesperson, please contact the Surviving Economic Abuse press office on: [email protected] / 07786 073249

Visit the Banking Support Directory


  1. All figures are from an Opinium survey for Surviving Economic Abuse of 2,072 women across the UK, of whom 416 reported experiencing economic abuse in the last 12 months. The survey was conducted online from 7th – 10th November 2023. Results have been weighted to be representative of UK women. Population numbers have been calculated independently by Surviving Economic Abuse using ONS data.
  2. To understand women’s experiences of economic abuse, the survey asked them: “Have you experienced any of the following behaviours from a partner or ex-partner in the last 12 months?” The total who reported experiencing at least one of these economically abusive behaviours from are listed here.