Financial abuse

Financial abuse

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Abuse can come in all sorts of forms, such as physical abuse, domestic abuse, and emotional abuse. But one that isn’t often spoken about is financial abuse. Here we discuss what this means and where you can seek help and advice.

What is financial abuse?

Financial abuse is when someone takes away your financial independence. This can either mean your partner has taken control of your money or is running up debt in your name. It is a type of domestic abuse and is a criminal offense so it should be reported to the police.

This type of abuse can look different in each relationship and can often be combined with other forms of abuse, such as physical abuse. The abuser isn’t always a partner either, it can be a family member or a friend which can sometimes make it difficult to recognise.

A few examples of financial abuse include:

  • Making you hand over control of your accounts to them
  • Taking money out of your account without your permission
  • Applying for credit or another account in your name
  • Racking up debt in your name
  • Stopping you from going to work, college, or university
  • Making you account for every penny you spend
  • Expecting you to pay for all of the bills

Impact of financial abuse

Since most financial abuse cases are combined with other forms of abuse, victims are left feeling inadequate and vulnerable. The lack of control over their own money can also result in having no control over their food, clothing, and home, and can prevent them from seeing their friends and family. This can leave them dependent on the abuser making it very difficult for them to get out of the situation.

If the abuser has racked up debt in the victim’s name, their credit history can also be affected. Therefore, even if they manage to leave, they will still be left in a difficult financial situation. For example, it could be more difficult for them to get credit to help them sort themselves out or even prevent them from getting a new home.

What to do if you’re being financially abused

If you’re being financially abused, it can be difficult to get out of the situation if you don’t have the finances to support you if you leave the relationship. However, it is important to remember that you’re not alone and there is always a way out.

Here are a few steps you can take to help you leave safely:

  • Contact a family law solicitor.
  • Keep a record of each incident with photographic evidence.
  • Report each incident to the police so they can build a case.
  • Have a plan ready for if you have to leave in an emergency with documents, such as your passport and bank statements to hand.

If you want to take legal action, but can’t afford to or can’t get access to your money, then there could be the option of legal aid. This will help to cover the costs of any legal advice or action you take. You can find a solicitor who will take legal aid cases on the law society website.

If you leave the house in a hurry and need access to emergency cash, you can contact your local authority to see if they can help you.

There are many options out there to help and support you to get out of a difficult situation.

How to protect your finances

As soon as you are in a safer situation, it’s important to protect your finances. This doesn’t just include access to your account, but all your personal information and documents too. If you can, you should:

  • Change your passwords and PIN as soon as possible so that they can no longer access it.
  • Try and locate all your documents or at least find out all your sensitive information, such as national insurance number and account number. This will make it easier to open up a new account, get legal aid, get a new job, etc.
  • Change the address of where your letters are sent so they can’t end up in the wrong hands.
  • If you have a joint account, contact your bank to make sure money can only be taken out if you both agree to stop your abuser from clearing your account. You can contact us on 0161 779 5000 to discuss your joint account.
  • If you have a credit card in your name and the abuser has access to a secondary card, remove them from your account.
  • Check your credit report to see if any credit has been taken out in your name without your knowledge.

Where to seek advice

There are many organisations out there who can offer you support and advice. Here are just a few of them:

  • Women’s aid – Help women who are experiencing financial abuse. Head to the website or call their free 24-hour Domestic Violence helpline. There are different websites and phone numbers for each country in the UK. England – Head to Women’s Aid Wales – Head to Welsh Women’s Aid or call 0808 8010 800 Northern Ireland – Head to Women’s Aid website or call 0808 802 1414 Scotland – Head to Scottish Women’s Aid website or call 0800 027 1234
  • Men’s aid – Provides emotional support and advice for men suffering from domestic abuse. Visit Men’s Advice Line or call their free helpline on 0808 8010 327.
  • National Domestic Abuse Helpline – Provides support for women and children suffering from domestic violence. Head to nationaldahelpline.org.uk or call their 24-hour free helpline on 0808 2000 247.
  • National LGBT Domestic abuse helpline – Offers emotional support and advice for victims suffering from domestic and financial abuse in the LGBT community. Call them on 0800 999 5428, email them at [email protected], or visit the Galop website.

Need some help?

We’re happy to support you with any issue that might be impacting your finances. Contact our specialist team on 0161 779 5000.

Opening times:

Monday - Thursday: 8:00am - 8:00pm

Friday: 8:00am - 6:30pm

Saturday: 8:00am - 4:30pm

Need some help?

We’re happy to support you with any issue that might be impacting your finances. Contact our specialist team on 0161 779 5000.

Opening times:

Monday - Thursday: 8:00am - 8:00pm

Friday: 8:00am - 6:30pm

Saturday: 8:00am - 4:30pm