Rising bills: Cost of living issues give abusers an excuse to withhold money, expert warns
Rising household bills could lead to more financial abuse and make victims’ lives worse, legal and charity experts warn.
Financial abuse is a coercive tactic where money is used to control a partner, and women are more likely than men to fall victim to it, but anyone can be affected.
The number of online searches for “signs of financial abuse” rose 13% in the year to September, according to analysis of Google data by law firm Rayden Solicitors.
And that trend has accelerated lately, with searches for this information up 30% in the year to November.
Rayden also reports a 77% increase in visits to his own Financial Abuse Recognition webpage over the past two years, followed by an alarming 19 per jump increase in the last month alone.
Are you or someone you know suffering from financial abuse? See below for how to spot the warning signs and where to turn for help.
“We are extremely concerned for victims-survivors of economic abuse in the months ahead,” says Dr. Nicola Sharp-Jeffs, CEO and Founder of Surviving Economic Abuse.
“We know from our financial support line that 67% of victims-survivors of domestic violence already have a negative budget or have less than £100 leftover at the end of each month, and that average debts are six times higher. only in 2020.
“The cost of living provides abusers with an excuse to withhold economic resources and the repercussions of restricting finances will be greater because the money does not travel as far.
Financial abuse, simply put, can affect a person’s ability to lead an independent life. They might be unable to do anything without their partner’s input
William Ham, lawyers for Rayden
“Victims will be forced to spend more time at home in order to reduce expenses, where there is more risk of harm.”
Suzanne Jacob, Chief Executive of SafeLives, said: “The cost of living crisis is rapidly becoming an emergency for victims of domestic violence, with many facing the choice between living in unsafe accommodation or facing financial destitution and hardship. homelessness.
“With support services also coming under increased pressure, opportunities to get help are increasingly limited and it can be difficult for someone experiencing domestic violence to reach out.
“It is essential during this worrying time that family and friends step in. If you are concerned about someone, let yourself be guided by what they think is safe and start conversations gently, expressing your concern.
“It’s common to worry about saying the wrong thing, but the simple act of listening and reassuring someone can break the silence around their situation. Let them know that you believe them and that any abuse is never their fault.
William Ham, legal director at Rayden Solicitors, says he has noticed an increase in the number of people suffering from financial abuse and believes this is mainly due to the introduction of the Domestic Abuse Act in 2021, which specifically includes economic abuse .
“Financial abuse should be seen as part of a larger behavior of control and coercion,” he says.
“Financial abuse, simply put, can affect a person’s ability to lead an independent life. They might be unable to do anything without their partner’s input, such as obtaining goods and services.
Controlling: Signs of financial abuse can include regularly opening your bank statements, managing all your finances and spending money behind your back (stock image)
How to Spot the Signs of Financial Abuse
Situations where finances are controlled most often occur between romantic partners, but can also involve family members, friends and caregivers, warns Rayden Solicitors.
Shefali Maher, a Rayden attorney with extensive experience in domestic violence cases, has compiled the following list of signs of financial abuse.
She says you could experience this form of coercion if you have a partner who:
– Tells you that he is better with money than you and/or that you are not good with money
– Regularly opens your bank statements
– Prohibits you from discussing your financial arrangements outside of your relationship so that your friends and family are in the dark about the financial control they have over you
– Is in charge of all finances leaving you little to no control over finances
– Take advantage of your generosity
– Borrows on your behalf and/or uses your credit or debit card without asking
– Has assets in his own name but insists that all your assets be joint
– Spends money behind your back and/or hides debts from you
– Controls all the credit cards you both have between you
– Does not allow you to have money outside of an allowance or spending limit. This is often a deliberate tactic used by the controlling party to leave a victim with two very difficult choices: leave the abuser and have no money or stay and continue to live with the abuse.
– Tells you that you are not entitled to anything
– Tells you not to consult a lawyer or not to trust your lawyer
– Keeps you in the dark about common finances
– Takes your income or benefits or does not allow these payments to be made to your individual bank account
– Put the invoices in your name but do not contribute to them
– Does not contribute to children’s expenses
– Regularly gets mad at you about your expenses and/or asks to see receipts when you’ve spent money
– Make important financial decisions without you
– Controls if you work or if you can progress in your career or what you do for work. Your partner may even go so far as to harass you at work so that you get fired or have no choice but to stop working.
Find out how to spot the signs that a friend or family member is suffering from financial abuse here.
Someone taking out credit cards or loans in your name can also be a sign of financial abuse.
Where can you ask for help?
If you are in immediate danger, contact the police on 999.
If you are not in immediate danger but are concerned about your safety, the National Domestic Abuse Helpline is on 0808 2000 247 and is open 24 hours a day.
The Surviving Economic Abuse Financial Support Line, run in partnership with Money Advice Plus, offers specialist advice to people who are victims of domestic violence who are in financial difficulty. According to SEA, these tips can help you regain control of your finances.
Women’s Aid has help and advice here, including a live chat service for confidential expert advice and support.
It runs a Rail to Refuge program, a joint initiative with rail companies where operators cover the cost of train tickets for women, men and children fleeing domestic violence who travel to a shelter.
You can find out how to get there here, and the Rail Delivery group tells you more here.
Raydens stresses that if you are in immediate danger you should contact the police, but adds: ‘Talking to a lawyer early on will help you protect your finances and get expert advice.
“If you or someone you know is suffering from financial abuse, you can take action. If you have a joint account or shared access to money, you can ask the bank to freeze the account.
“If your partner knows your bank passwords or PINs, consider changing them if it’s safe to do so.”
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