What is economic abuse?


Economic abuse involves controlling a victim’s ability to acquire, use and maintain financial resources. Economic abuse vary from situation to situation. Sometimes an abuser may use subtle tactics like manipulation while other abusers may be more overt, demanding and intimidating. In the end, the goal is always the same—to gain power and control in a relationship. 


Power and Control through finances: 

Economic abuse is very isolating because victims often become financially dependent on their abusers. This makes it very difficult to leave relationships. It is important to recognise signs of economic abuse. These can be but are not limited to: 

  • Trying to control your use of or access to money you have earned or saved 
  • Using your assets for their personal benefit without asking 
  • Taking money or using credit cards without permission 
  • Borrowing money or making charges without repaying it 
  • Feeling entitled to your money or assets 
  • Demanding that you turn over your paycheck, passwords and credit cards
  • Expecting you to pay for their bills or their obligations 
  • Confiscating your paycheck or other sources of income 
  • Intercepting or opening your bank statements and other financial record 
  • Telling you you can’t work
  • Withholding financial information such as account passwords, account numbers, investment information and so on 
  • Demanding that you ask permission before spending money but not consulting you when they make purchases 
  • Making threats to cut you off from finances 


The Impact 

Without access to money, credit cards and other financial assets it is extremely difficult to do any type of safety planning.  It is very difficult to not only find safe and affordable housing, but also hard to provide for basic needs like clothing and transportation.  The problem with economic abuse is that the effects can be long-lasting even after leaving the relationship.  

Victims who have accrued arrears due to economic abuse may find it difficult to find somewhere to live. Bad credit history and/or legal issues caused by financial abuse can often mean that it is very difficult to establish independence and long-term security. 


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