Please don't promote blogs that aren't in the Mumsnet Bloggers Network. Join the network

Guest blog: financial abuse 'counts' as domestic abuse

(59 Posts)
KateMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 09-May-13 12:41:11

In today's guest blog Polly Neate, Chief Executive of Women's Aid, writes about the impact of financial abuse on survivors of domestic violence - and argues that the introduction of Universal Credit will leave more women vulnerable.

Let us know what you think - and if you blog about this, don't forget to leave your URL on the thread.

"Many people don't realise that financial abuse 'counts' as a form of domestic violence. But it's very common - and can be one of the first types of domestic violence experienced, as the abuser begins to control his partner.

Financial abuse is a way of gaining the power and control which underpins all domestic violence, and can lead to other types of abuse. But the loss of financial independence can make a woman feel unable to leave her relationship, precisely because she lacks the financial means to do so.

It tends to unfold over time, and can take many different forms, such as:

* Not 'allowing' the woman to work or have an independent income.

* Giving a woman who is forced to stay at home or is a stay-at-home mother a very strict allowance, making her account for everything she has spent, and ask every time she needs money.

* The woman being forced to work - with the abuser perhaps taking her to and from work, and keeping her income, with all household funds going into his account.

* Forcing the woman to take out loans and credit cards that she can't afford to pay back.

* Forcing a woman to obtain money by illegal means.

In circumstances where the abused woman has been forced to take out loans in her name for her abusive partner, this can lead to very serious debt. If a woman is pressurised into stealing and other criminal acts to get money for the abusive partner, obviously the consequences can be very serious - and the threat of discovery can be another reason not to leave. But in all cases, the erosion of self esteem and independence is deeply damaging.

The abuse can begin under the guise of being looked after - 'I'll look after that, you don't need to worry'. Sometimes, to younger women or those who feel vulnerable, already have financial worries or lack confidence in managing money, this can be an attractive prospect. But as things develop, they start to feel trapped and desperate.

Women's Aid is currently particularly concerned about the introduction of Universal Credit, which will mean one monthly payment per family to one person. The government's intention is for victims of domestic abuse to be exempt - but 'split payments', where the payment is divided between partners, can only be granted as an exception. In Women's Aid's experience of working with domestic violence, just asking for a split payment could put a woman at increased risk of abuse from a violent and abusive partner. There is a serious risk that an unintended consequence of Universal Credit will be to make financial abuse easier for the perpetrator.

But financial abuse is by no means limited to those who are claiming benefits - it's just as likely to happen to women who are professionals, or stay-at-home mothers with a high household income. For example, a stay-at-home mother's money could be closely monitored and her spending decisions judged, even if they have no financial difficulties. If she's the breadwinner, she may be forced to put all her money into an account which her partner can access, and which may be spent on high value items, gambling or alcohol/drugs - while she is permitted to spend little of her own money. She may also be threatened that if she ever leaves him, he will empty their savings and she will be left with nothing.

Women's Aid has produced materials with finance professionals at moneyadviceplus called DAME (Domestic Abuse Money Education) to help women deal with the financial difficulties in which they can find themselves after the abuse, including identifying whether any offences have been committed or what their means of reparation might be. But very often, there will be none.

If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence, go to Women's Aid to receive support and information from our free Survivor's Handbook, which has sections on all elements of domestic violence including financial abuse, and how to make a safety plan if you are thinking of leaving."

I never said women weren't more affected.

What I said is that I have friend who is a male who is being financially abused by his partner. And I'd have liked some acknowledgement of that so I could use the blog/thread to show him where to access help.

And I haven't been rude or nasty to you.

BasilBabyEater Sat 11-May-13 19:31:15

I think non-payment of maintenance should be recognised as financial abuse as well. It's financial abuse of both women and children (and men in the case of the <10% of male resident LP's).

3/5 of lone parents don't get any maintenance at all and the other 2/5 can be continually threatened with its withdrawal if they don't co-operate with abusive demands of the exes. This form of financial abuse is rife.

edam Sat 11-May-13 20:12:23

Very true, Basil.

JennyMakkers Sun 12-May-13 11:45:42

Absolutely Basil, mothers shouldn't have to incur 100% of the financial responsibility for raising children but so often they do. 5 years of nothing under my belt.

Freddie, this isn't about your ego, and this issue can not be about men. You wan't an acknowledgement from me ... Are we in the boxing ring here? Do you want a point? Am I obliged to agree with you? confused Am I obliged to respect your opinions? No. I'm not. I don't. I haven't been rude or nasty to you so stop saying that, but I think you are extremely misguided and if there were large numbers of women getting involved with this campaign just to stand up and represent men's rights - it would make the problems worse for women (remember them, the ones who are about 100 times more likely to be affected?).

Jenny why are you so angry with me? I have been financially abused, physically abused and sexually abused and I'm watching a friend who happens to be male go through the same. Fuck me sideways for having some empathy and trying to help him.

LadyMaryQuiteContrary Sun 12-May-13 14:07:32

It should also be abuse against the child as well, as their remaining parent is left struggling to cover the basics. My son would have been taken by social services if I had behaved like his father. Maintenance is used a hell of a lot to control the resident parent and the child and the resident parent suffer because of this.

JennyMakkers Sun 12-May-13 18:18:11

I thought you were the one angry with me confused , accusing me of mocking your friend's experience you said (I wasn't) and saying to me that you would like me to acknowledge (have forgotten what). I haven't the energy to get into further argument with you. Stop mentioning me in posts and I'll do the same.

RachelToussaint Mon 20-May-13 00:17:21

Good post. Also some self employed women with young children will find that the new Universal Credit system will put them under increased financial strain. This is particularly damning for victims of financial abuse. I've written more about it here .

RachelToussaint Mon 20-May-13 00:41:18

I agree with this post raises some good points about covert domestic abuse. Also some self employed women with young children will find that the new Universal Credit system will put them under increased financial strain. As they are mostly the main carers, working less hours and therefore earning less. This is particularly damning for victims of financial abuse as they are unlikely to receive the payment. It's worth noting that child benefit is not going to be part of the UC "bundle", which might be some relief. I've covered more about the effect of UC in my blog. www.racheltoussaint.wordpress.com

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now