Money Wellness
A woman sits on the stairs with her head in her hands
category icondebts
calendar icon27 Nov 2023

5.5 million women suffered economic abuse in the past year

One in five women in the UK experienced economic abuse by a current or former partner during the last 12 months, a new poll has revealed.

The survey of over 2,000 women on behalf of the charity Surviving Economic Abuse found economic abuse is more likely to affect younger women, with 35% of victims aged between 18 and 24.

Black, Asian and ethnic minority women were also found to be at higher risk – with 32% experiencing economic abuse compared to 18% of white women.

What is economic abuse?

Economic abuse happens when someone controls another person’s finances or their ability to earn money. It often traps victims with the abuser and, if they do manage to leave, destroys their ability to rebuild their lives, sometimes forcing them to return to their abuser.

Forms of economic abuse

The survey uncovered various forms of economic abuse:

  • One in 11 women said they’d had access to their bank account restricted by a current or ex partner.
  • One in nine women revealed they’d been stopped from accessing essentials such as food, shampoo and medicine.
  • One in 13 women said they’d had credit taken out in their name without their permission or had their credit rating deliberately destroyed.

Suffering in silence

The survey also found a third of women who had suffered economic abuse didn’t reach out for help.

To try and address this problem, Surviving Economic Abuse has put together a Banking Support Directory that lists all the help available to victims from banks and building societies.

I felt like I’d never be able to move on

Anna lived with her abusive partner for seven years. He was regularly out of work and forced Anna to support him financially. They owned a property together and when Anna left, her partner remained in the property, refusing to pay the mortgage, sell up or leave.

Anna found it incredibly difficult to get help from her bank. She said:

“No-one understood that I’d been abused – all they cared about was that I paid back the loan.

“I felt completely trapped and the toll this took on my mental health was extreme.”

In the end, years after the relationship ended, Anna’s house was repossessed. She said:

“I was free from abuse but my credit score was so low, I couldn’t even get a phone contract in my own name.

“It felt like I’d never be able to move on.”

Ruining lives

Nicola Sharp-Jeffs, CEO of Surviving Economic Abuse, said:

“Domestic abusers across the country are controlling the cash and belongings of millions. And it’s ruining lives.

“If you’ve got no access to your own money or you’re drowning in debt, it only makes you feel even more trapped with an abuser and unable to manage alone.”

Need help?

If you’re suffering economic abuse, you can find help on the Surviving Economic Abuse website. If you have concerns that your partner may be monitoring your internet use, try and borrow a friend’s phone or use a public computer e.g. at your local library.

If you’re in immediate danger, call the police on 999.

Avatar of Rebecca Routledge

Rebecca Routledge

A qualified journalist for over 15 years with a background in financial services. Rebecca is Money Wellness’s consumer champion, helping you improve your financial wellbeing by providing information on everything from income maximisation to budgeting and saving tips.

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