Everyone has the right to financial independence. If your partner is controlling your money or other financial assets, you are experiencing financial abuse. This is a form of domestic violence.
What is financial abuse?
Your partner may be controlling you financially in a number of different ways. These can include:
- Preventing you from getting or keeping a job
- Making you ask for money
- Making you account for every penny you spend by showing receipts
- Not allowing you to spend money on yourself or your children
- Controlling your bank account
- Stealing, taking or demanding money from you
- Taking control of any welfare benefits that you receive
- Insisting that all the utility bills or any credit is in your name
- Placing debts in your name
When Seon met her abusive ex-partner she was totally independent. She worked hard, was careful about budgeting and had no debt. Eight years later, when she escaped him, she had no job, massive debts and was on the brink of homelessness.
The financial abuse started after the birth of their first child, when Seon gave up her job to care for the baby. Her partner refused to contribute anything towards the care of the baby. He even forced Seon to register the baby with an unknown father, so that he would not have to pay child support and she would get extra benefits as a single parent.
Seon’s partner then started to put debts in her name. He would buy expensive things and put the credit in Seon’s name. He forced her to take out small high rate loans and credit cards and put all the utility bills in her name. Seon felt completely trapped by all these debts, knowing that if she tried to leave she would just take them with her. With a baby to look after, she could not run the risk of becoming homeless.
After eight years with her partner, the birth of her second child gave Seon the strength to leave the relationship.
Despite many struggles, Seon was able to find new rented accommodation. She started working part-time, and studied at a local college in the evenings. With the help of a specialist Refuge worker, she was able to regain her financial independence and confidence and manage the debts she had been left with by her ex-partner.
Seon is now working on developing a new career and studying full-time from home. She says:
“Refuge has given me help to clear the worst of my debt. This has had a profound and positive impact on my mental state and it has also given me the opportunity to start with a clean slate. I still have other debts which I have to clear, but because of Refuge’s help and continued support, I have now re-learnt how to budget in a realistic way.”
Contact the 24-hour National Domestic Violence Freephone Helpline on
0808 2000 247