Economic or financial abuse is one of the most common forms of abuse.
Perpetrators use it to establish and increase economic instability, reducing your ability to support yourself and forcing you to financially depend on them.
Economic abusers sometimes use whatever means you have for their own needs. This can involve putting debt in your name, taking out credit cards, loans, mobile phone contracts or car leases and even coercing you to sign over property or assets.
Economic abuse can also involve controlling all the money, denying you necessities, allocating you an allowance and forcing you to prove and explain your spending. You may have to produce receipts to prove where you have been, when and how much you have spent. They might use the excuse that they are better at managing money than you or that you need to save or be more careful with money. Warning signs of financial abuse include a lack of transparency or fairness; with one partner less able to make financial decisions independently.
Women’s Aid’s Domestic Abuse Report 2019 found that a quarter of respondents did not have access to money for essentials during the abusive relationship.
Sometimes perpetrators use gifts as a way to make it seem to the outside world that you are well provided for, when in reality you don’t have access to any funds and are unable to make decisions for yourself. Just because someone appears to have money does not make them less likely be the victim of economic or financial abuse.
Economic abuse can also involve limiting access to the benefits that you are entitled to or making you commit benefit fraud by preventing you from providing the correct information to authorities.
They might stay in your home without contributing or refuse to pay child maintenance following separation.
The abuse may also include refusing to let you work, determining what type of work you are allowed to do or forcing you to uphold ridged gender roles that impact on your choice and independence, affecting your ability to work.
Abusers may also treat you as though you are subservient and force you to work to provide for them. They may even force you to sell or exchange sex for money, drugs, rent or services.
Listen to an IDAS Voices Podcast with Claire Throssell who talks about her experiences of economic and financial abuse. (Interview starts at 0.34 seconds).
Appearing on This Morning on ITV, survivor Mel Clarke, who was abused by her ex for 14 years, talks about her experiences and how the Domestic Abuse Bill could have helped her.
This is Lindsay Fischer’s story of domestic violence, survival and recovery. Lindsay was a High School teacher in the USA before she met her new partner Mike.