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Economic abuse

Economic abuse occurs when your partner or family member takes control of your money or any other economic resources you may have. It could be that this person is using your money for their own purposes, thereby depleting your savings, and maybe even running up debts in your name.

This kind of abuse is not unusual, and it has a huge impact: lacking money you may not be able to use transport to go to work or to a job interview; if you are still in education, you may not be able to get to college. Similarly, if your GP is in another town or village and you can neither afford to drive, nor take the bus, then your access to health care is compromised.

This kind of abuse is far more common than you might realise - and make no mistake, it is abuse.

If you think you are experiencing something like this, try answering the questions below:

  • Has anyone tried to prevent you from working?
  • Have debts/loans been taken out in your name?
  • Have payments been withheld from you?
  • Do you have full control over your income or benefit payments?
  • If you keep cash around the house, in your purse for example, do you regularly find money has been taken?
  • Do you have your own bank account? If not, is this because you have been prevented/persuaded from opening one?
  • Have you use of your own phone and/or car? If not, is this because you have been refused the funds to pay for them?
  • Have you been told to keep to a strict, and unrealistic, budget?

If you have said ‘yes’ to any of these, then you are experiencing economic abuse and this is a form of coercive control.  The impact can be overwhelming. If assets such as your home have been put in the other person’s name, or if they have run up debts in your name, you could well be liable, or it may affect your credit rating.

Economic abuse makes it hard for you to leave the relationship and, unlike most forms of physical abuse, it may well continue after you have managed to get away. It is important to note that economic abuse rarely happens in isolation. If you have been experiencing financial abuse the chances are that you will also have been subjected to other forms: physical, emotional, psychological.

If this sounds like your experience, please seek help. West Cornwall Women’s Aid offer many kinds of support ranging from one-to-one and group counselling, outreach support and wellbeing activities to help you connect with other women and to navigate a way forward.

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