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Miserable couple

Financial abuse – it’s time to talk

Domestic abuse is a very real and difficult subject to talk about. If your partner is controlling your money or racking up debts in your name, this is financial abuse.

Today, Citizens Advice are launching a campaign, Talk About Abuse, to help those affected to talk about it and seek help.

Here, our debt advice manager Colin Kinloch, talks you through what you can do if you, your family or your friends have been affected.

Financial abuse explained

Financial abuse – and the control it often entails - can be a real barrier to people leaving abusive relationships. And even if people do leave there can be financial as well as emotional consequences:

  • people can need help unravelling debts that a partner has run up in their name
  • they might need help closing down joint accounts;
  • and some people may have never had to manage family finances before leaving

We think that supporting people that have experienced domestic abuse get their finances back on track is really important and we’ve taken practical steps to do something about it.

We’ve worked with the Scottish Legal Aid Board and the Scottish Government to set up a series of projects bringing together debt advice specialists and experts in working with people in abusive relationships in Scotland.

Talking about financial abuse can make all the difference

These projects help people sort out money problems they might have when they leave relationships and break down some of the financial barriers that stop people from leaving in the first place.

We’ve done some research to look into what people that have used the services think.

Anne (name has been changed) was put in touch with one of the projects by her local Citizens Advice Bureau, and was pleased that she would be speaking to someone who understood her background of emotional abuse.

She had a meeting with an adviser, who told her which benefits she was entitled to.

She told us that seeing the adviser boosted her confidence, and that feeling able to manage on her own financially gave her the courage to end the abusive relationship.

“Without [the debt adviser] I’d have felt lost and as if I was drowning… with the worry and stress I’d have probably ended up not finishing my relationship.”

We’ve learned a lot from these projects in Scotland and our projects providing debt advice in other parts of the UK work hard to make sure that their services are accessible to people experiencing domestic abuse. Your local debt services can help support you with the financial aspects of domestic abuse. You can find your local debt service with our debt advice locator tool.

If you have experienced domestic or financial abuse, do not suffer alone.

We would recommend women contact the National Domestic Violence Helpline, which is a free 24 hour service for women experiencing domestic violence and their family, friends and colleagues calling on their behalf. You can contact them on 0808 2000 247.

For any man experiencing domestic violence and abuse from a partner or ex-partner, The Men’s Advice Line is a confidential helpline which can be contacted on 0808 801 0327.

We all need to continue to #talkaboutabuse and we’ll make sure that finances are part of that conversation.

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  • David / 18 October 2015

    Thirteen years ago I lent my life-savings to a really good friend who promised to pay the whole amount back with interest as soon as he sold one of his houses. I have been paid back in dribs and and drabs over the past thirteen years. He still owes me £10,000 and whenever I ask for more regular payments and larger amounts he just loses his rag with me. I am badly in debt myself and find it difficult to pay my rent every month and my house-hold bills. I am a 74 year old pensioner. My niece and best friend have told me to take him to the Small Claims Court but he and I have been friends forover 30 years. What do you advise. Thank you you.

  • Peter Wilson / 4 October 2015

    It should also be remembered that financial abuse of the elderly is commonplace - often by family members or neighbours.