And part of this means confronting some of the issues that disproportionately impact women head on. Even when they may be difficult to talk about.
Financial abuse can take various forms, yet it ultimately involves controlling someone’s ability to earn, use, or maintain their financial resources. Although it is a topic that is rarely discussed or widely explored, according to figures from Aviva, 40% of British adults may have experienced some form of economic or financial abuse.
And it probably comes as little surprise to know that it does disproportionately impact women. In fact one in six UK women has experienced financial abuse by a current or former partner.
Yet one of the challenges with financial abuse is that the signs can be difficult to spot. Our guide below sets out some of the financial abuse red flags you should look out for if you are concerned that you, or a loved one could be experiencing it. You can also find links to resources for help and advice.
- Dictating how money is spent. If one person alone is deciding how much money the other is allowed to spend or demanding that that they are given control of accounts so that they can monitor spending, then this is indicative of a serious problem. If there is an explosive, or violent reaction to money being spent without their consent and approval, then this is also a big warning sign.
- Transferring assets or money into their name. Now this can be a tricky one, as many abusers will pitch this as them being caring or claim that they need to do it because you are not financially savvy or particularly good with money. However, if assets are being transferred over to their name, leaving you with little or nothing to yours, then rather than truly having your best interests as heart, they may be trying to exert financial control.
- Coercion and financial enabling. Financial enabling basically mean one person allowing another to make negative financial decisions. This can present as someone pushing you to use your good credit to help them take out loans or credit card, or asking you to pay off debts. While there can be elements of financial enabling in non-abusive relationships, it is a red flag when the financial enabling is accompanied by coercion, withholding or threat to another party if financial support is not offered.
- Giving out allowances or setting budgets – without the other party’s input. Allowances and budgets should be mutually discussed and agreed upon to ensure that they work best for all parties involved. If one person alone is dictating the level of allowances or budgets without discussion, there is a huge imbalance of power, and a potential red flag of financial control and/or abuse.
- Controlling someone’s ability to earn money. This can look like pressuring someone to leave a job or reduce their working hours. It can also be limiting someone’s ability to earn, or in some severe cases even deliberately sabotaging work responsibilities or opportunities. Having the power to earn our own money gives us freedom and independence, and anyone who is actively trying to compromise this does not have your best interests at heart.
- Running up charges, debt or expenses in someone else’s name. Those who are guilty of financial abuse will at times incur debt, max out credit cards, and take out loans in their partner/family member’s names and leave them to foot the repayment bill. Coming across charges and expenses on your bank statements that your partner/family member has incurred without your permission is also a warning sign.
For anyone who needs help or support with financial abuse, some resources you can consult are:
Surviving Economic Abuse, the charity dedicated to raising awareness of financial abuse and supporting those who have been impacted by it.
National Domestic Abuse Helpline
Financial Support Line
If you think you or a loved one are in immediate danger, you can also call 999 and ask for the police.