Economic abuse – how to spot the warning signs
Domestic abuse takes many forms. Abuse can be physical or sexual abuse, violent or threatening behaviour, controlling or coercive behaviour and even psychological and emotional abuse.
However, when an abuser restricts and exploits your access to money and the things money can buy, such as food and clothing, this is a form of controlling and coercive behaviour known as economic or financial abuse.
What is economic abuse?
Economic abuse is a legally recognised form of domestic abuse. According to the UK charity Surviving Economic Abuse (SEA), one in six women in the UK has experienced economic abuse by a current or former partner. Over a third didn't tell anyone at the time.
SEA describe economic abuse as someone (usually a partner, ex-partner or family member) exerting control over income, spending, bank accounts, bills and borrowing. This type of abuse can make one partner dependent on the other. If you're experiencing economic abuse, you can feel even more isolated, making it harder to leave and rebuild your life.
Am I experiencing economic abuse?
If your partner, ex-partner or family member controls how you make or spend money or other areas of your life, including housing, food and employment, you may be experiencing economic abuse.
Has your partner or family member ever done any of the following:
- Restricted access to financial information, including changing passwords for online banking
- Controlled access to a bank account, for example, not allowing you your own bank cards
- Prevented you from having a bank account in your own name
- Made you withdraw money or pay for bills that aren't yours from your account
- Insisted that the income you receive is paid into an account you don't have access to
- Made you borrow money in your name that is for them
- Made applications for credit in your name.
If you've answered yes to any of the above, you may be experiencing economic abuse.
Where to find help
If you need advice about your financial situation and help considering how to prioritise the issues you're experiencing, the Financial Support Line for Victims of Domestic Abuse may be able to help you.
The service provides one-off support and guidance to victims of domestic and economic abuse who are struggling to manage their money. You can call their freephone number on 0808 196 8845, Monday to Friday from 9am–5pm.
The Survivors' Forum is an online forum run by SEA to help survivors connect in a safe and supportive space and share their experiences of economic abuse.
If you're concerned for yourself or a friend or family member, SEA's Spotting the Signs is a helpful guide to help you understand what economic abuse is and how you offer support.
How we can help
If you're a Peabody resident, please contact us at 0300 123 3456.
Our Contact Centre team will listen to your concerns and will be able to refer you to the right team to support you.
If it is an emergency, please call the police on 999.