Financial abuse, joint accounts and managing money within relationships

Financial abuse, joint accounts and managing money within relationships

Financial abuse is the hidden financial cousin of domestic abuse – it’s all about dangerous, unfair control using finances. It can be subtle or brutal. So be aware of it both for your own relationship, and for others – but this blog’s about more than that too…

When I originally started to type this out, I wanted to provide quick help with financial abuse. Yet as I wrote, the blog expanded, and the product-by-product help and relationship money management precautions may help reduce friction for anyone starting or already in a relationship.

In time I aim to turn this info into more detailed and polished MSE guides both on financial abuse and relationship finance. So your feedback will help greatly.

Thanks to Women’s Aid and Surviving Economic Abuse for their help and guidance for those directly facing domestic and financial abuse.

What is financial abuse?

Financial abuse is a form of domestic violence. It is defined as someone controlling another adult’s access to their finances or ability to earn money, in order to reduce their independence and force reliance.

Typical examples include someone forcing or coercing you to add them to your bank account, pressuring you to take out debt for them in your name, or emotionally blackmailing you to pay their bills (it’s a subset of economic abuse, which also includes things like restriction to transport, clothes, food and other necessities).

In January 2019 the Domestic Abuse Bill was published, which when enacted will make financial abuse a crime within the definition of domestic violence. Yet even though that isn’t enacted yet, financial abuse is effectively a form of ‘coercive and controlling behaviour’ and can then be prosecuted under the 2015 legislation that covers this, so if you feel scared or intimidated always report it to the police.

In its survey last year, Women’s Aid reported that out of 19,000 survivors of domestic abuse, about 8,000 suffered financial abuse, as did 60% of women living in refuge centres. Though it’s likely there are far more cases than just those reported – and this isn’t only an issue that happens to women. Read more

By Martin Lewis