Financial abuse can happen to anyone. Here is a really useful guide from Cashfloat on how to help yourself or anyone close to you who is suffering.
What is Financial Abuse?
Financial abuse is a form of domestic abuse. Financial abuse is defined as one adult controlling another adult’s access to their money and/or not allowing them to earn money. As a result, the victim is forced to be dependant on the abuser for finance. Financial abuse can leave the victim lacking self-confidence, feeling isolated, and trapped. Both women and men can fall victim to financial abuse, the perpetrator can be a family member, friend, partner or carer.
Did you know, those suffering from financial abuse can prosecute their abusers under the 2015 legislation that covers all forms of ‘coercive and controlling behaviour’. If you feel scared or itimidated, report it to the police.
- Are you being restricted from access to money from a spouse/caregiver, even for essential items?
- Has anyone borrowed credit, like a wage day advance in your name without your consent?
- Has anyone pressed you to add their name to your account?
- Did anyone ask you to change your will?
- Has anyone spent your household budget without telling you?
- Are you being asked to account for everything you have spent?
If you can answer yes to any of these questions and you think you are being abused, call one of the helplines below for free advice.
Watch the story of financial abuse survivor, Sarah. This single mum of one was left with £26,000 in debt after 5 years of financial abuse.
What are the Signs and Symptoms of Financial Abuse?
It is important to know the signs of financial abuse so you can help anyone that may be suffering: Here are some tell-tale signs you can look out for:
- They lack money to pay for essentials, such as food and toiletries
- There are some changes to their standards of living, i.e. they don’t have things they normally would have
- They lack access to money which they can’t explain
- The person seems distant or troubled
- They don’t have debit or credit cards on them and are not sure how much is in their bank accounts
How Can I Help My Friend Suffering From Financial Abuse?
There are many ways you can help your friend who has confided in you that they are suffering from financial abuse. Firstly, you should give them a contact number of charities they can get in touch with. These charities are specially trained to guide these sensitive situations, so encourage your friend to make that call. They will support your friend emotionally and practically. Secondly, if you are in a position to help your friend financially, give them some money without any strings attached and make sure they use it for themselves.
|Charity||Website and Phone Number|
|National Domestic Violence Helpline||nationaldomesticviolencehelpline.org.uk|
0808 2000 247*
|National LGBT and Domestic Abuse helpline||galop.org.uk|
0800 999 5428
Are You Worried Your Partner Has Taken Out Credit in Your Name?
If you have this worry, it is quite simple to find out. All you have to do is check your credit report (which you can do for free). Look to see if there are any products you do not recognise applying for. If you spot something you do not recognise, it is fraud, and most likely, you won’t need to pay it back. Report your findings to the police or your bank.
Should I Have a Joint Account?
Within the context of financial abuse, having a joint account may seem bad. However, for those in a long-term, loving and stable relationship, it may not be such a bad idea at all. Joint accounts are not advisable too early in a relationship. The most common type of joint account, according to moneysavingexpert.com is one which a couple only uses the account to pay bills. Our advice: give your relationship time to get to know your partner and their money habits before committing to join finances together.
I met Kevin back in 2012. It was all love and romance at the beginning, but just a few months after we moved in with each other, Kevin begun asking to see my bank statement every month to see what I was spending money on. If there was an expense he didn’t like, he would shout at me, condescend me for being so irresponsible and ‘punish’ me by taking away my bank card. Not long after, he demanded that I pay all the bills (even though we initially agreed to pay half each). This left me with little to no money in my account, and the little I did have left I was so scared to spend in case he might not approve.
To make things worse, Kevin began to also restrict my time with family and friends, insisting I can only go out if I’m with him. He also used to check my phone on a daily basis, and confiscate it if he felt I was contacting people ‘he didn’t like’. I felt so isolated and alone. In 2016, there was a month when I had to survive on nearly nothing since he had control over all the money. That’s when I decided that if I wanted things to change, I had to be the one to change them. It took every ounce of courage I had, but eventually, I got in touch with Women’s Aid who literally held my hand every step of my way out of my abusive relationship. I am still affected by the abuse I endured; my family had to lend me thousands just to pay back the debts he built up, but I am so much happier. I know it seems hard to make that first move, but I promise you, it’s worth it!
Samantha’s abuse, like the vast majority of cases of financial abuse, was connected to other forms of domestic abuse, including physical and emotional abuse.
✝Based on a true story. Names have been changed.
It’s hard to talk about financial abuse, but it’s much harder not to. If you are suffering, know there is help out there and you are not alone. Be brave and reach out for help like Samantha did. Get the help you deserve today. Because NOBODY DESERVES TO BE ABUSED