If a current or former partner has interfered with your finances or other economic resources in some way to limit your choices this may be economic abuse. Domestic abuse takes many forms and does not always involve the use of physical violence. Some abusers repeatedly dictate their partner’s choices and control their everyday actions, becoming violent or threatening to become violent if their demands are refused. This pattern of behaviour is a form of abuse known as coercive control. It is designed to intimidate, isolate and control the victim.
Many spouses who are on the brink of divorce have experienced some form of economic abuse during all or part of their marriage. It is not unusual to act for spouses who have been subjected to extremely controlling behaviour by their other half when it comes to their access to money and visibility of their overall financial position. This tends to worsen at the point of separation or divorce as the financially stronger spouse tries to punish the other, either for what they perceive to be the reason for the marriage ending or simply to seek to gain a financial advantage in the proceedings. The good news is that there is recourse through the family courts to address any interim challenges that spouses face during the divorce process. If you are experiencing economic abuse, you are not alone. Although it can be hard to identify, one in six UK adults have experienced economic abuse at some point. And more than ever before, there are people and organisations who understand and who can help.
Surviving Economic Abuse ('SEA'), a UK charity dedicated to raising awareness and transforming the response to economic abuse, has this week published a research paper titled 'Economic abuse: a global perspective'. The paper details what we know globally about economic abuse in the context of intimate partner violence and indeed what we are yet to still discover. The project started over two years ago, with an aim of discovering the gaps in knowledge and practice that we urgently need to fill to ensure that all victim-survivors can access economic safety and justice. The evidence found highlighted that responses around the world vary and are impacted by global and local inequalities. Work is therefore needed to make sure that all victim-survivors can access justice and support. The report concludes with a global call to action for researchers, policy-makers and governments, the financial sector, domestic abuse services and many others, urging these stakeholders to deepen their understanding of economic abuse, learn from what is already known and create change. It is vital that all victim-survivors can receive a consistent response, no matter where in the world they live.
In 2020, we partnered with the Founder of SEA, Dr. Nicola Sharp-Jeffs and Founder of financial well-being consultancy The Dura Society, Lottie Leefe, to address the common signs of economic abuse, how to approach separation or divorce in these circumstances and provide some guidance to regaining financial independence in the form of a podcast. Follow the link to listen to the episode and discover further resources: https://www.boodlehatfield.com/articles/the-boodle-hatfield-podcast-economic-abuse-regaining-financial-independence/