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Financial and Economic Abuse

Financial abuse can go unrecognised as a form of domestic abuse, though can be fairly common and often occurs in tandem with other forms of abuse. The abuse often allows the abuser to completely control the victim by forcing them to be economically unstable and completely dependent their abuser. Such dependency makes it very difficult for the victim to escape from the relationship, allowing for further abusive behaviour to continue. In some cases, the financial abuse places the victim in a perilous position with the law and/or financial institutions, with the abuser: 

  • Running huge debts 

  • Sullying the victims credit score 

  • Forcing their partner to partake in fraudulent activity (for example, filing false insurance claims or fraudulent tax returns) 

The abuse often exists in conjunction with other abusive behaviours, namely the use of coercive control tactics (gaslighting) and threats of physical abuse.  

Economic abuse has an even broader definition, applying to acts that do not only involve money, but damage the victims current and future prospects of earnings. Again, this form of abuse is designed to deplete any form of economic resource the victim might have, thereby contributing to their continued isolation. As such, while financial abuse might entail the abuser taking complete control of any accounts, spending and allowances, economic abuse touches upon behaviours like sabotaging the victims employment opportunities (for example, causing physical injury before work interviews, or forbidding them to go to work at all). 

Like other forms of abuse, financial and economic abuse can be both covert and overt in its application and impact. The abuse may begin with the victims reduced accessibility to their joint finances and their exclusion from investment decisions, and migrate into something much more extreme, hiding assets and withholding money (even for basic needs) altogether. Victims are often left with hugely detrimental, long-term injuries, with severed employment opportunities and fearing homelessness. 

There is a wide range of different types of abuse, including: 

  • Controlling some, or all, of the joint/family accounts - withholding money completely or apportioning allowances to the victim 

  • Concealing or hiding the couples money and assets 

  • Forcing the victim to take part in fraudulent activity, like writing bad checks, filing fraudulent tax returns or false insurance claims 

  • Stealing the victims money, property or other assets 

  • Running up large amounts of debt, for example, through reckless spending or gambling 

  • Preventing the victim from working, or finding work 

  • Refusing to work themselves 

  • Forcing the victim to work for them without compensation 

  • Refusing to pay child maintenance  

Getting help

If you are suffering from financial and/or economic abuse, it is vital that you get help as quickly as possible. Please contact our specialist team who can support you and explain the options and protection that are available. Please call 999 if you are in imminent danger. In circumstances where calling the emergency services may inflame the situation, you can press 55 once you have dialled 999 and the emergency services will go to the address from where you have called without you having to say anything. 

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