What is Economic Abuse?

Economic abuse is when someone takes control of your money when you don’t want them to, or prevents you from earning money and becoming financially independent. Economic abuse often occurs between partners, where one person will control and limit their partner’s access to money. It’s also a form of domestic and family violence and may occur with other violent behaviours such a physical abuse or emotional abuse. Economic abuse is also known as financial abuse. Check out Money Smart’s info on Relationships and Money for some great tips on balancing love and money.

Economic abuse can include a number of different behaviours such as:
  • Preventing you from working or looking for a job
  • Controlling your money- like keeping all the money they earn and just paying you a small allowance
  • Denying someone living expenses- like not letting you have access to money so you can’t afford food, medicine or other basics
  • Withholding financial support- like not paying child support
  • Stopping you from making decisions about household money
  • Forcing you to claim social security benefits like centrelink
  • Intimidating you into signing legal or financial documents that puts debt in your name
  • Pressuring you into taking out a loan in your name

No one has a right to control your money, even if they are your partner. If you think someone is being financially abusive, or abusive in any other way, you can call 1800 RESPECT for help and support.

My partner was financially abusive and now I’m in debt.

If you are in debt because of financial abuse the best thing to do is to call, or make an appointment with, a financial counsellor. Financial counsellors offer free advice to help you manage your money, they will help you talk to whoever you owe money and work out the best solution for everyone. Watch this video to learn more about how financial counsellors can help.

Check out Financial Counselling Australia to find a counsellor near you, or call 1800 007 007 to speak to one on the phone. If you are in debt you may need some legal advice, you can find a list of free legal advice on MoneySmart’s website.