Financial Abuse: The invisible crime in abusive relationships.

abuseAfter the success of last year’s pioneering report, Controlling money, controlling lives, Citizens Advice launched its new Talk about abuse campaign in September.

They report that one in every fifteen women, and one in thirty-three men experienced some form of domestic abuse at the hands of their partner or former partner last year.

The Talk about abuse campaign focuses on informal networks of friends, family, neighbours and colleagues. They want ordinary people to be able to recognise abuse, to talk about it safely and enable victims to make the right decisions for themselves.

Read their guidance on how you can talk about abuse.

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Financial abuse too often invisible in abusive relationships

Abusive partners are using money as a control to trap their partners. Leaving their partners without money, applying for credit in their name, controlling their day to day spending or not honouring joint bills leaving them to pay them on their own.

In the report based on a survey on advisers and reports from people who sought help from Citizens Advice about financial abuse it found that…

  • Almost three-quarters had reported someone forced their abuser to take out credit, such as a payday loan
  • 43% had seen cases of the abuser stealing from the victim
  • Over half had reported perpetrators controlling access to the victims income, banking or savings
  • 77% reported victims being left to pay joint bills alone, including council tax and fuel debt

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Nine in ten victims of financial abuse who came to Citizens Advice this year were women

Financial abuse can appear in many forms. If you are suffering from any of them please seek help and advice. Here are some examples…

Interfere with her employment or training:

For example, by preventing her from participating in paid work or education; or alternatively, insisting that she works, but hands over all her earnings to him.

Control access to household finances including her own earnings/benefits:

For example: By keeping control of her bank accounts, credit cards, benefits etc.; not giving her any money; and/or taking away any money/resources she has of her own, (including money for day to day housekeeping expenses, her savings or other personal money); insisting she accounts for every penny she spends.

Steal from her and use the money for himself:

Or transfer joint assets into his own name.

Refuse to contribute to shared household expenses:

Including failing to pay regular bills despite agreeing to take responsibility for them; or building debts in her name or joint names – sometimes without her knowledge (e.g. utility bills, which she thinks he has paid).

Insist she takes out loans and credit in her own name:

Or force her to take sole responsibility for credit or loans beyond what she considers to be manageable.

Force her to take actions which are dishonest, illegal or against her own sense of right and wrong:

For example, to claim benefits fraudulently, interfere with gas and electricity meters, become involved in prostitution, shoplifting etc.

Victims often find it difficult to recognise abuse which is of an economic or financial nature. It can develop slow and insidiously, so what at the outset can seem as protectiveness can quickly manifest into something far more controlling, leaving no outlet for independent life at all.

Have you, or anybody you know ever suffered from financial abuse? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.

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