Economic abuse is difficult to pinpoint and often happens alongside other forms of abuse. A huge *95% of domestic abuse involves economic abuse.
Economic abuse is when someone controls or manipulates someone else’s money and financial resources, to gain power and control over them. It can happen in any abusive relationship and it’s now recognised in the Domestic Abuse Act.
As well as controlling someone’s income, spending, and borrowing, economic abuse can include limiting someone’s access to
- education and training
Most people rely on tech to manage their money. But online accounts and apps make it easier for perpetrators to monitor, control and misuse finances and resources.
Let’s take a look at how.
Restriction and monitoring
- Perpetrators with access to a survivor’s online bank accounts or statements can use these to monitor what a survivor has been doing.
- Survivors may have access to their bank accounts restricted or conditions set on when they can buy food, clothing and transport.
- Perpetrators may demand access to the survivor’s online accounts, or insist they’re the main account holder
- Apps may be downloaded to track the survivor’s spending, with or without their knowledge
- A survivor can be forced or coerced to take on the perpetrator’s debt.
- Coerced debtis a very common form of economic exploitation with long-term consequences, destroying the survivor’s credit rating and making difficult to get future jobs, loans, or buy or rent property.
- The survivor’s wages may go straight into the perpetrator’s bank account or be controlled in a joint account
- Perpetrators can access survivor’s accounts and order items, live off their wages or savings, or empty their accounts. They may spend the survivor’s money so they’re unable to pay bills or make essential payments, running up interest and debt
- The perpetrator makes all bills, credit cards, loans, or other financial accounts in the survivor’s name, meaning they are liable if it’s not paid
- The perpetrator refinances the mortgage, car or other loan online without survivor’s knowledge
- A common practice is placing assets in the perpetrator’s name. The perpetrator may do this online, applying for power of attorney or naming themselves as the executor in the survivor’s will.
- Perpetrator can prevent survivors from being in education, training or employment, affecting their income and economic status. For instance, accessing a work email address to sabotage a professional relationship.
- The perpetrator may lock the survivor out of their own or joint bank accounts to sabotage their access to money.
Psychological and emotional abuse
Sending unwanted and harassing messages of abuse through online transaction descriptions isn’t uncommon. It’s not possible to block someone from sending money. Survivors either continue to receive these or are forced to create new accounts.
What can you do?
Learn to spot the signs that tech abuse is being used by booking onto our training ‘How Perpetrators of Domestic Abuse use Technology‘. Understanding the signs is vital, especially as survivors aren’t likely to report it because
- They may not recognise what is happening
- They may not realise the severity and consequences
- Shame and cultural norms – financial matters are often seen as too private to talk about
Want a deeper dive?
- Keep up with our Domestic Abuse and Technology newsletter series and explore the signs of tech abuse in more detail
- The Digital Breakup Toolkit‘s ‘economic’ section includes tips for survivors
- Surviving Economic Abuse (SEA) has a range of information and resources for professionals, including:
- Screening for economic abuse
- Conversation kit to introduce economic abuse – including very useful ways to be professionally curios
- Resources for a range of different frontline professionals
Got a question about tech abuse? Email firstname.lastname@example.org
- Source: Surviving Economic Abuse
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