The hidden misery of women trapped in financially abusive relationships has been revealed in a recent report by the TUC and Women’s Aid. According to the report, many of these women are trapped in poverty without any access to money for essentials, emergencies or for their children.
Financial abuse is defined as the control of money, exploitation of survivors’ income and time, and sabotage of their efforts to generate an income through work.
The report finds that:
- 77% said their mental health had been affected by financial abuse.
- 75% were prevented from seeing family and friends.
- 76% said their partner kept financial information from them.
- 67% of those in work during the abuse said their partner monitored their work activities.
- 58% said their partners used them as a source of money.
The financial abuse was accompanied by other controlling behaviours and abuses. Abusers spent money on their own needs first, leaving the women and their children without basic essentials. In other cases, women were locked up at home and forced to provide unpaid labour in family businesses.
Many women noted that the financial abuse escalated and continued after separation, often relating to child maintenance or legal proceedings.
Following on from the research, Women’s Aid and the TUC have called for a five-point plan which would see:
- Survivors and agencies identifying and responding to abuse.
- Banks dealing with abuse more effectively.
- Changes to the delivery of Universal Credit to reduce the risk of further opportunities for financial abuse.
- Benefits and child maintenance systems supporting survivors.
- Further data collection to identify more detail about this form of abuse, so that more effective interventions can take place.
To achieve this Women’s Aid and the TUC are calling on Government departments, agencies and banks to review their practices in light of the report’s findings and to implement policy changes to protect survivors of financial abuse.
Key recommendations include paying childcare elements of Universal Credit to the main carer, providing training for Jobcentre Plus and bank staff so they are able to identify problems during the Universal Credit claim process, and reviewing legal aid regulations.
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