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Financial Abuse

Financial abuse is a form of coercive control designed to restrict a victim’s freedom or degrade them. Financial abuse occurs in nearly every domestic abuse situation, yet it is something that is so underestimated and unknown to society. Women are particularly vulnerable to this type of abuse as they are more likely to become reliant on their partner when pregnant or have children.

To restrict money is to restrict basic human rights

Financial abuse is something that has had such a long-term effect on me. The effect is something that has taken me by surprise. Whilst living in that situation it could be suffocating and crippling. To have someone monitoring what you are spending and restricting money making sure you never have quite enough. It can hold shame having to go to someone asking for money for essential things particularly If that person your asking is the same person who is also degrading you in other ways. I have been left with that fear of never having enough and wary of ever becoming reliant on anyone again. 

Money is such a necessity to everyday life, we need it to eat, to keep us sheltered, to keep a home, to keep us clothed and to keep children it is a must in our lives and to keep us and our children alive. So, when it is restricted or used against us or even withheld in someway it has a profound impact on our lives and wellbeing. It is a destruction of our basic needs and freedom. When someone uses money or has control over money, they control what keeps us going as humans which is what makes it such an insidious form of abuse.

Forms of financial abuse:

Borrowing money and not returning it

Stealing money or belongings

Forcing someone to sell their home or assets

Controlling what someone spends or access to money

Sabotaging employment or stops you from working

Denies direct access to accounts

Giving an allowance

Causing debts

Forcing you to work

Refuses to pay bills or child maintenance

With holding money for basic needs

Spending money themselves but not allowing you to do the same

Giving money or paying for items but using as weapon against you  

Living under that type of control is frightening for the victims as it leaves them so powerless it also makes it incredibly difficult to leave an abusive relationship.Financial abuse can live on long after the relationship has ended. It can appear in many ways. Child maintenance being stopped, controlled, used against the victim, or not being paid on time. A perpetrator may rack up debts leaving the victims to pay them after they have left.  Its hard to decide to leave an abusive relationship but if you don’t have access to money or that person has accumulated debts that you must pay it can make thing seem impossible and makes your life so unstable.

We expect women to leave but with no access to food or shelter where do they leave to?

When I left my ex-husband, I was in an incredibly precarious position having to look after a very young baby. I had no job, no money and not many options of gaining an income. Money had long been restricted from while I was pregnant, so I had little to my name. He had refused always to have a joint bank account claiming that I was controlling for asking for one.I was determined to be strong and independent I tried to find work but that was nearly impossible as my daughter was only a few months old. I was lucky to have the help from family to keep us going and to buy her milk and food. My ex didn’t pay child maintenance at all at first. That was bad enough but then came the shock that he hadn’t paid the council tax and bills for the rented house we had lived in. It was all half in my name. I was left paying for it all out of fear that my credit would be affected if I didn’t. Two weeks after I left him due to him being arrested the rent was due.

We are lucky to live in a country that does have a benefit system, or I would have been homeless, but still nothing would be paid till the claim was put through which takes 4-6 weeks. I was forced to sell items to pay the first rent payment.To this day that feeling of fear and instability as stayed with me and I doubt it will ever leave. 

8.7 million people report experiencing economic abuse – Refuge Charity

On very rare occasions will police and court recognise financial abuse as coercive controlling behaviour. With such high numbers of victims of this crippling from of abuse that leave such devastation for victims and children I believe that it is a crime that deserves a much higher level of recognition and prosecution.  We must shift the way we look at abuse and recognise its far more than physical and other forms of abuse are just as dangerous and leave victims incredibly debilitated and their human rights majorly compromised.

Financial abuse is also a crime that has a huge impact on the children in these cases. It really is a form of child abuse and should be recognised for what it is. In any other situation in life, we would not have our basic needs like food, clothing or shelter stopped or restricted unless we had committed a crime and were in prison. Financial abuse is the imprisonment of the victim and child/children. 


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