What is economic abuse and how to spot it

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“Money doesn’t make you happy. But without money, there’s nowhere to go. That’s why, for me, economic abuse is the greatest form of control.” 

– an economic abuse survivor

According to the domestic abuse charity Refuge, 16% of people in the UK have experienced economic abuse. And for 1.6 million people, the economic abuse started during the covid-19 pandemic.

The Domestic Abuse Act defines economic abuse as any behaviour that stops you earning, accessing, using or managing money, and the things money can buy – like a phone or car, bills, food or clothing.

Abusers limit your choices to make you depend on them for money and everything else as a way to exert control over you.

The signs of economic abuse

Economic abuse can be hard to spot, and can happen gradually or subtly, without you even realising. 

Economic abuse can involve someone: 

1. Taking advantage of your money

  • putting you into debt 

  • taking out debt in your name

  • having your money go into their account

  • limiting your access to your money

2. Controlling what you spend your money on 

  • telling you what you can spend your money on

  • asking for proof of everything you buy

  • having access to your bank account

3. Sabotaging your financial resources

  • stealing your money or property

  • taking money you’ve saved for holidays or bills 

4. Manipulation or coercion

  • Coercive behaviour is an act or a pattern of acts of assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish, or frighten their victim

  • Controlling behaviour is a range of acts designed to make a person subordinate and/or dependent by isolating them from sources of support, exploiting their resources and capacities for personal gain, depriving them of the means needed for independence, resistance and escape and regulating their everyday behaviour.

If you or someone you know is experiencing economic abuse - we’re here. Please reach out to us if it’s safe, there are things we can do to support you.

We know it can be hard opening up about any type of abuse, but you can speak with us confidentially through our in app chat, email or over the phone. We also have a feature in our app that lets you chat to us without the chat history appearing in your app afterwards:

  • Head to the ‘Help’ tab in the Monzo app 

  • Search for ‘tell us more’

  • Tap ‘Talking to us about domestic and financial abuse’

  • Tap ‘Tell us more’ and we’ll ask you to explain your situation

  • Someone on our specialist team will reach out to you, to see how we can support you 

This is what the page looks like on the Monzo app:

screenshot in app of economic abuse page

What happens next

  • We can keep a note of what’s going on, privately on your account. So you don’t have to repeat your story if you contact us again

  • We can contact you at a time that suits you best, just let us know in the Tell Us More feature what your preference is 

  • We can give you details of other organisations where you can find support

  • We can change how we contact you, such as contacting you via phone or a safe email and add additional security questions too, like a passcode/password that only you would know, to make you feel as safe as possible. You may want to speak to us over the phone

  • We can help you regain control of your accounts and work to ensure your phone is the only device logged into your account 

  • We can give you advice should you have concerns over a joint account you hold with us 

And there are other organisations who can support you too

We’ve been working with the charity Surviving Economic Abuse to train our staff to recognise the signs of economic abuse, and learn how we can best support our customers who are experiencing it.

Money Advice Plus is the only UK charity that supports  you with money worries and helps you increase your financial stability if you’re a victim-survivor of domestic abuse. Surviving Economic Abuse is the only UK charity dedicated to raising awareness of economic abuse and transforming responses to it.

Respect Men’s Advice Line is a men’s Advice Line that offers non-judgmental support, the focus is to increase the safety of men experiencing domestic abuse by providing confidential support.

Refuge provides specialist support to women, children and some men escaping domestic violence and other forms of violence. They are able to provide specialist services which include refuges, independent advocacy, community outreach projects, culturally specific services and the 24 hour National Domestic Abuse Helpline.