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The Archers shows domestic abuse isn’t just physical

If you’ve been following the story of The Archers Helen Tichener, who has been cleared of the attempted murder of her violent husband Rob following a prolonged period of domestic abuse, you will know that it takes many forms, often using controlling behaviour as well as physical violence.

Controlling behaviour can also include financial abuse, which is now recognised in law as a form of domestic abuse. Behaving in this way is now seen as a criminal offence.

Helen’s story has reached out much further than the listeners of Radio 4, highlighting that domestic violence is a much wider problem than is openly talked about.

According to a recent study by domestic violence charity Refuge and The Co-operative Bank, one in five women and one in seven men have experienced financial abuse in a relationship.  And it can happen to anyone - regardless of your age, income, religion, race or sexual orientation – leaving you feeling isolated, lacking in confidence and trapped.

What counts as financial abuse?

Typical behaviour can include:

  • stopping you from getting (or keeping) a job
  • making you hand over your wages or benefits
  • making you ask your partner – or others – for money
  • making you account for every penny you spend – for example by showing receipts
  • not allowing you to spend money on yourself or your children
  • controlling your bank account
  • stealing, taking or demanding money from you and/or
  • running up debts in your name
  • controlling your access to money to prevent you escaping the abuse.

What you can do if you feel you’re being financially abused

It’s important to know that everyone has the right to financial independence so if you recognise any of these signs in your relationship, there is help at hand.

Organisations that support victims of domestic abuse are trained to help you regain control of your finances as well as helping you rebuild your emotional health.

What if you feel out of control of your finances but don’t feel abused?

Sometimes it’s easy for one partner in a relationship to lose control of their finances without any ulterior motive.

They might move in with a partner who already has the bills or mortgage in their name. Or they might claim joint universal credit, where the payment is made to one of the couple.

Sometimes one partner stops working to look after kids and relies on the working person to give them an income.

With these situations, it’s important to talk about it as soon as you can and find ways to help you gain back control of your money.

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