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Is economic abuse a form of domestic abuse?

Yes. Economic abuse is a legally recognised form of domestic abuse. The law defines economic abuse as:

“Any behaviour that has a substantial and adverse effect on someone’s ability to: acquire, use or maintain money or other property, or obtain goods or services.”

In real terms, this can mean preventing a partner or spouse from having the means to afford a personal mobile phone or a car, for example. It often extends to limiting adequate access to basic needs such as food, toiletries, hygiene products, and clothing. In some circumstances, abusers will restrict access to utilities like heating, or even housing.

Is economic abuse a form of domestic abuse?

Yes. Economic abuse is a legally recognised form of domestic abuse. The law defines economic abuse as:

“Any behaviour that has a substantial and adverse effect on someone’s ability to: acquire, use or maintain money or other property, or obtain goods or services.”

In real terms, this can mean preventing a partner or spouse from having the means to afford a personal mobile phone or a car, for example. It often extends to limiting adequate access to basic needs such as food, toiletries, hygiene products, and clothing. In some circumstances, abusers will restrict access to utilities like heating, or even housing.

  • What are some signs of economic abuse?

    Economic abuse frequently involves the abuser limiting or manipulating the victim’s capacity to acquire and manage their financial resources.

    In many cases, the abuser will have exclusive access to the household’s finances, assets and income. They then use this power to limit or restrict access to money, credit facilities, goods, services, travel, food, and clothing.

    Some perpetrators may seek to control their victim’s capacity to earn money. This could be keeping their victim’s out of the workforce or limiting the hours they’re able to work. Alternatively, they might not restrict employment, but will take full control of their victim’s income.

    Economic abusers might resort to strategies such as stealing and damaging property that victims can’t fix or replace, refusing to pay bills, accumulating unauthorised debt in the victim’s name, and forcing victims to surrender control of your accounts.

    Survivors of economic abuse experience a significant loss of freedom leaving them isolated, scared and degraded. The experiences of victims of economic abuse can have a lasting impact on their quality of life, mental health, and financial security.

  • Examples of economic abuse

    • Your income or ability to work is sabotaged.
    • You’re excluded from financial decisions.
    • They control or deny you access to money.
    • Access to financial resources, benefits, and information is controlled.
    • All expenditure is dictated, tracked, or scrutinised.
    • They refuse to contribute to household expenses.
    • You’re forced to have to ask for money.
    • Access to necessities, like food, clothing, or medications is prevented.
    • They insist or manipulate so that accounts and property are in their name only.
    • They coerce you into debt or build debt in your name without your knowledge.
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Economic abuse

What can I do if I’m a victim of economic abuse?

If you believe you’re experiencing economic abuse, we highly recommend that you seek professional support.

Call the police on 999 if you are in immediate danger.

There are many UK-based organisations that can help if you are not in immediate danger, but do need support.

Surviving Economic Abuse provide a range of services and resources for anyone who thinks they may be a victim of economic abuse, including step-by-step guidance, an advice line, possible financial support, as well as information about grants, benefits, and potential aid you may be entitled to.

Uncovering the scale of abuse you’ve been subjected to, and releasing yourself from the control, can be challenging. However, with the right guidance you can achieve personal and economic safety.

Divorcing an economic abuser

What to know when divorcing an economic abuser

Legal professionals should be alert to the warning signals of economic abuse so they can signpost support and provide the appropriate representation.

For example, a family lawyer will be aware that control can persist after the relationship ends, known as post separation abuse.

Understanding this is crucial for family lawyers, since it directly affects how the divorce case is handled and whether additional protection would be beneficial.

In cases of divorce involving economic abuse, the perpetrator can use this opportunity to continue the abuse by sabotaging the legal process and limiting access to marital assets as a means of control.

Other tactics used by perpetrators during financial settlements include failing to disclose marital assets, actively delaying the process to gain control and intentionally drive up legal costs.

It is important for victims to know there is dedicated support available for them. Family lawyers have various tools they can use, including orders that require the abusive partner to leave the family home, interim maintenance orders to help meet financial needs while the case progresses, and freezing orders to prevent the disposal or sale of assets.

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0330 056 3171

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Submit your details, and we’ll arrange a free, no-obligation callback at a time to suit you. Please note that we cannot offer Legal aid.

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