The Domestic Abuse Bill, which is currently before Parliament, will for the first time identify Economic Abuse as a form of Domestic Abuse.
This is particularly important for recognising that abuse can take place in many forms and ensuring that victims are properly supported and protected.
What is Economic Abuse?
Economic Abuse means any behaviour that has a substantial adverse effect on a person's ability to acquire, use or maintain money or other property, or obtain goods and services. It is a type of coercive control as it limits the victim's freedom.
Examples of Economic Abuse include the perpetrator:
- preventing a partner from working or training
- holding assets in their sole name and denying their partner information about their finances
- ensuring their partner's salary is paid into an account that only the perpetrator has access to
- controlling how money is spent and questioning their partner in respect of any spending
It can also take many other forms.
As with other forms of Domestic Abuse, this can cause much emotional and psychological distress to the person suffering the abuse. Without financial means to support themselves, the victim can often feel like there is no way out of the relationship.
What Can You Do If You Are Suffering From Economic Abuse?
1. Talk to someone you trust
While this is the first step, it will in many cases be the most difficult. Some will find it easier to talk to friends and family while others will find it easier to confide in someone they do not know such as a domestic abuse telephone line or a solicitor. Either way, it is important that you are open and honest about the situation.
2. Contact the police
Usually, Economic Abuse does not appear in isolation and other types of abuse can be present. Importantly, after the passage of the Domestic Abuse Bill, Economic Abuse will be classified as a crime in itself.
If you have suffered abuse (of any kind), you should speak to the police about your situation if you feel able to. They will be able to give you some practical advice and help you press charges if necessary.
If you ever feel in danger for your or someone else's safety, it is important that you call the police immediately using 999.
3. Leaving the relationship
Having identified that you have been suffering Economic Abuse you may, with support, decide to end the relationship. This can feel very daunting, especially if the abuse has resulted in you being isolated from a support network.
You may wish to consult a solicitor about this. A solicitor will be able to advise you in relation to your financial position upon separation, as well as additional protections to help in your situation. For example Occupation Orders, Freezing Orders and Orders for Financial Disclosure. These measures may arise in other cases but could be particularly important in cases concerning Economic Abuse.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.