In a recent poll, I asked people if they knew what the terms financial abuse and economic abuse meant. The results were split 50/50, with some knowing, and others not. I decided to carry out the poll because I was being asked the same questions over the past few months…. Financial abuse, what is that? Is economic abuse not the same thing as financial abuse? Hopefully this blog post will help to explain these concepts further.
Financial Abuse and Economic Abuse are forms of coercive control and are used by perpetrators to control and restrict a person’s freedom. Many people relate financial abuse to something that happens to the older, more vulnerable, generation. But it also occurs in intimate relationships.
In this blog, we are discussing financial abuse and economic abuse in the context of intimate relationships. In this situation, financial abuse involves an intimate partner using or misusing their partners money, which then leaves the individual with no money for their basic day to day needs. This results in the abused individual having no control over their finances and the freedom to make choices regarding their day-to-day spending is taken away.
Examples of financial abuse:
Loans taken out in your name
Your money or personal items stolen
Being required to seek permission before you purchase items
A common misconception I have encountered is that if an individual works and has their own income, then they can’t be financially abused. But in financially abusive relationships, although a person may have their own income, they will not be in control of how that money is spent.
Is financial abuse the same as economic abuse?
Although financial abuse comes under the term of economic abuse, economic abuse itself has a much broader coverage than financial abuse. Economic abuse is so destructive that it negatively affects the abused individual’s ability to acquire or maintain money, property, or services etc they may need.
Examples of economic abuse:
The perpetrator puts barriers in place, so the abused individual has no chance of improvement and advancement in their career.
The perpetrator restricts access to transport so the individual can’t access employment opportunities to gain financial independence.
This behaviour prevents the abused individual from building financial resilience and working towards future goals and aspirations.
Economic abuse post separation
Economic abuse can intensify post separation as it is often the only means the perpetrator has left to exert control!
The following example demonstrates a situation of economic abuse post separation:
A married couple whose relationship has ended, but they both still live in the marital home. The husband refuses to contribute to the upkeep of the household or any of the associated costs, leaving the woman to utilise her entire income to cover all bills and expenses relating to the home. In this situation, where the home is privately owned with a mortgage, the woman can be pressured into paying the mortgage in full herself, as otherwise she runs the risk of falling into arrears. It would negatively impact her credit rating, in addition to facing possible legal action from the lender if the mortgage went unpaid. Meanwhile the abusive partner is ‘living off’ the woman…. and she will be living in poverty trying to service all costs herself.
In situations where the woman cannot pay the household costs in full, there’s a risk of large arrears building up on the mortgage. This can lead to repossession of the property. She now faces the prospect of homelessness, in addition to rising debt arrears. This is economic abuse. This woman’s entire economic situation is being impacted and would be for many years to come in a situation such as this.
Where to find help
If you are a woman and dealing with financial or economic abuse, contact Women’s Aid who can offer advice or direct you to a local service which may be able to offer advice and assistance. Although my website is aimed at women, it is important to understand that financial abuse is not gender specific. If you are a man dealing with financial abuse, you can contact Men’s Aid for advice.