How to recognise financial abuse, and where to get support

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An estimated 2.4 million adults experienced domestic abuse in the last year. And now we’re on lockdown, home can be an even more dangerous place for survivors.

Domestic abuse can include patterns of physical and sexual assault, as well as coercive and controlling behaviour, online or digital abuse and financial abuse. And it’s normally perpetrated by a partner, family member or carer. 

We look closer at financial abuse, and explain how to spot it and what we can do to help.

What is financial abuse?

Financial abuse is when someone controls your access to money by:

Coercing you - Pressuring you through threats or force

Exploiting you - Taking advantage of you for their personal gain 

Sabotaging you - Actions that damage or obstruct your rights or freedom

Sometimes this behaviour develops gradually over time, so financial arrangements you have in place with an abusive partner or family member might feel like the norm.

How to spot financial abuse

If you’re not sure if you or someone you know is experiencing financial abuse, there are 6 questions you can ask yourself to help you recognise the signs:

  • Has your partner stopped you from working?

  • Has your partner asked you to account for every single thing you spend?

  • Has your partner taken out credit cards or loans in your name?

  • Has a family member or carer made you hand over control of your account?

  • Has a family member stopped you from seeing other family or friends?

If you answer yes to any of these questions, then it could be the right time to talk to someone, or seek help when it’s safe to do so. 

How we can help

As a bank, we’re not equipped to offer the long-term professional support you deserve as a domestic violence survivor. 

But if what’s happening at home is affecting your access to your money or your ability to manage your bank account, there are a few things we can do to support you: 

1. You can tell us what’s going on, without anyone else seeing the messages

Share With Us is a feature in the Monzo app that lets you disclose sensitive information to us safely, without leaving a trace.

To share something with us:

  1. Head to the Help section in your app

  2. Scroll down to the 'Browse articles' section and tap See our Help articles

  3. Open the 'Helping us understand your needs' section to view Help articles on how we can support you

  4. Hit the 'Tell us more' button at the bottom of the article and tell us about your situation in as much detail as you’d like

We’ll send the information you give us straight to our Vulnerable Customers team.

2. We can contact you at a specific time, using phone or email if you prefer

If you chat to us in the app, it’ll leave a trail of messages in your account. So if it’s safer or more convenient, you can ask us to get in touch with you on the phone or email instead.

You could even give us a specific time you’d like us to contact you.

3. We can agree a codeword together, so you can tell us if something’s wrong

We can agree on codewords with you, so if someone’s listening to you or monitoring what you’re doing, we can interpret their meaning. 

For example, "I'm having a problem with the chip on my card" could be code for "Please phone the police."

Where to go for help

If you’re experiencing domestic abuse there is always help out there. 

If you’re in immediate danger call 999 and press 55 if you can’t speak.

The National Domestic Abuse Helpline (0808 2000 247) is available for free 24 hours a day and the government has pledged another 2 million pounds to fund charities running similar helplines as part of their #YouAreNotAlone campaign.

UK Finance have created a leaflet packed with guidance on how banks and financial services can support you if you are experiencing financial abuse. 

The Women’s Aid Survivors Handbook is packed with practical guidance and information on leaving safely, your legal rights, protecting your children plus much more. It is also available as audio and in different languages.