My money, my life – Refuge and The Co-operative Bank launch campaign to raise awareness of financial abuse


Today (10 December), Refuge, in partnership with The Co-operative Bank, has launched a powerful new campaign “My money, my life” to raise awareness of financial abuse and call for industry-wide agreement to support people who experience financial abuse in their relationships.

Nearly one in five British adults say they have experienced financial abuse in an intimate relationship, according to a new report launched today by The Co-operative Bank and Refuge.

The “My money, my life” campaign raises awareness of the true scale of financial abuse for the first time, as it occurs within intimate relationships, where financial control, exploitation or sabotage are used to control a person’s ability to acquire, use and maintain financial resources. Refuge and The Co-operative Bank have joined forces to carry out the UK’s largest study to date in this area in order to understand the prevalence of financial abuse in intimate relationships in the UK. They have also produced a guide to support those experiencing financial abuse.

Sandra Horley CBE, chief executive of Refuge, says: “Money is a constant worry for many of us at the moment. For women who report that they have experienced financial abuse, money can be a matter of life and death. It can mean the difference between being trapped with a violent and dangerous abuser, or escaping to a place of safety.

“Financial abuse is a form of domestic violence and the consequences of this type of abuse can be both devastating and long-lasting. Some women are forced to hand over their wages or benefits to their partner every month. Others are prevented from going out to work or completing their education. Many victims are forced to provide receipts, accounting for every single penny they spend or are given such ridiculously small ‘allowances’ they can’t afford to buy food for themselves and their children. Some are forced into debt, shackled to a past relationship through a churn of constant bills and repayments. This is why Refuge is delighted that The Co-operative Bank is working with us to shine a light on this often overlooked form of abuse. Together, we want to make people realise that these behaviours are not OK and highlight that there is support available.”

Laura Carstensen, chair of The Co-operative Bank’s Values and Ethics Committee, comments: “This study lifts the lid on the true extent of financial abuse in relationships in the UK. While other types of domestic abuse are well-documented, the impact of this kind of coercive control where money is used as a weapon within an intimate relationship is not yet fully understood. Two-thirds of consumers who took part in our study thought this was an issue that banks should raise awareness of and that is exactly why we’ve joined forces with Refuge to launch this new campaign.

“We are calling on the Government to support an industry-wide agreement to identify and address banking practices that fail to help victims of financial abuse in relationships, and more importantly, support those trapped in relationships with abusive partners. Victims of financial abuse are often unable to open bank accounts due to lack of relevant identification documentation post-separation. The lack of, or poor credit history as a result of partner behaviour, or paper-based account management processes put victims at risk of being unintentionally found. Our “My money, my life” campaign aims to bring the banking industry together to break down those barriers.”

Find out more about the campaign.