Financial abuse and economic abuse can take many forms. We’re here to help you spot the signs and get support safely. On this page, you can also read about what we’re doing to tackle economic abuse.
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Things might not feel right, but is it abuse? Learn how to spot the signs of economic abuse.
We’re here to help. Find out about help available, and how to stay safe while seeking help.
We know economic abuse can be devastating to your finances. We can help you get back control.
Financial abuse and economic abuse are types of domestic abuse which happen within relationships.
Survivors are people who have experienced financial or economic abuse.
Abusers (or perpetrators) are people who have carried out financial or economic abuse. Abusers could be partners, ex-partners, family members, or carers.
Financial abuse is about your money or other property. It’s when an abuser misuses it, steals it or puts you under pressure to do something with it.
For example, it could include when an abuser:
Controls how you use your income
Builds up debt in your name, such as by taking out a credit card
Manipulates you into changing your will.
Economic abuse is wider in its definition than financial abuse. It can also include restricting your access to essential resources and preventing you from doing things that could improve your situation.
For example, it could include when an abuser:
Stops you buying any clothes or sanitary products
Stops you working, or being in education
Controls who you speak to on the phone or computer, and for how long.
Someone makes you feel like you’re bad with money
Someone stops you from working or earning money, so you’re forced to rely on them financially
Someone controls what you’re ‘allowed’ to spend money on or won’t let you access your joint account
Someone offered to do shopping for you, but then started using your bank card without your permission
Watch this video to help you spot more signs of financial or economic abuse.
If you’re worried that a friend or family member may be experiencing financial abuse, you can:
Websites you visit, including the ones mentioned on this page, may appear in the web history on your device. Refuge have guides about what to do if you’re worried about someone knowing what you’re doing online.
It can help to use another device, such as:
Some actions you take to increase your security or privacy, such as deleting your web history, might alert an abuser, and they might escalate their abusive behaviour. If you’re unsure, you can contact Refuge for advice.
To use a private Safe Space as a safe and discrete way to get help with economic abuse, visit one of our branches and ask a member of staff, who will show you to a private room.
Once inside the Safe Space, you can use our phone to contact family or friends, and we’ll provide you with details of specialist support services available.
To ask us to contact you at a safe time by email or phone, fill in our economic abuse online form. Please be aware that the contact form will show in your browser history.
To read about help available discretely if you’re worried someone is watching what you’re doing online, use our economic abuse pop-up. It won’t show in your browser history. The link is at the bottom of all of our webpages.
To get help from our dedicated financial support team, call us on 0800 781 1493 (open Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm and Saturday and Sunday, 9am to 5pm). Call charges may apply
On the phone we can:
Help you understand payments on your account
Reset your login details or change your card PINs
Explain your options if you have a joint account
Set up a new account
Help you deal with any debts.
We know it might not be possible, or safe, for you to contact us. You can fill in our economic abuse online form to let us know a safe time for us to get in touch with you instead, if that works better for you. Please be aware that the contact form will show in your browser history.
If you're worried someone is monitoring your phone, use a safer device, like another phone from a trusted friend, family, or a neighbour, to contact Refuge's 24h National Domestic Abuse Helpline (Freephone) on 0808 2000 247.
It's a good idea to consider who might be able to access things like your emails by checking where your account is logged in. You can find more information about this at the Refuge Tech Safety website.
There are many organisations offering help and support. All those listed below run support services that are always free to access and completely confidential. Although they may have specialist knowledge and experience in supporting specific kinds of people, they’ll offer guidance to anyone who needs it.
Refuge runs a National Domestic Abuse Helpline for women and provides emotional and practical support. They can explain who else you could contact and refer you to other specialists, such as local outreach services and refuges.
To get help from Refuge, you can:
Surviving Economic Abuse (SEA) also provides a wide range of specialist support to women who have experienced economic abuse, and to those who are supporting victims, at survivingeconomicabuse.org.
Domestic abuse aimed at men is much more common than many people think – the Office of National Statistics (ONS) says that 1 in 3 survivors of domestic abuse are men. Respect works to end domestic abuse against men.
To get help from Respect, you can:
Galop works to support LGBT+ people through domestic abuse, hate crime and conversion therapy.
To get help from Galop, you can:
Hourglass works to prevent isolation, neglect and abuse of older people.
To get help from Hourglass, you can:
Unseen works towards a world without slavery. They provide safehouses and support in the community for survivors of trafficking and modern slavery.
To get help from Unseen, you can:
The Bright Sky app is free and simple to use. It can help you understand how to respond to economic abuse and find support nearby, for you or someone else.
To download it, search for ‘Bright Sky’ on the App Store or Google Play, or visit Hestia’s website at www.hestia.org/brightsky.
GOV.UK provides information about domestic abuse in some alternative formats, including:
They also provide information about how to:
Visit the GOV.UK website to learn more.
Please note that the above support links are correct as of March 2023 and the details are for information only. The Co-operative Bank has no direct relationship with any of the organisations above other than Refuge and Safe Spaces.
We know that survivors of financial abuse and economic abuse can have problems with high amounts of debt, low credit scores and legal issues. This is nothing to be ashamed of.
We understand that you know your situation better than anyone else, and we want to help you improve your financial health.
Our dedicated financial support team can help you by:
We won’t judge you, and talking to us won’t affect your credit score or eligibility for future financial products.
Call us on 0800 781 1493 (open Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm and Saturday and Sunday, 9am to 5pm).
We understand you may prefer to talk to someone else about your debt. You can get friendly, impartial debt management advice from StepChange.
Or if you’re not ready to talk, you can find lots more information in the It’s Your Money leaflet (PDF).
As well as taking steps to support our customers, as the original ethical bank we’re also committed to tackling economic abuse in the UK.
We’ve partnered with Refuge to run campaigns and studies. We were the first to publish statistics on financial abuse and show how big this problem is in the UK.
In our study, we found that of all adults in the UK:
1 in 6 people (16% or 8.7 million people) had experienced economic abuse at some point
1 in 60 people (1.6% or nearly a million people) were experiencing economic abuse at the time
Together, we formed a plan for banks to increase the financial support available to survivors, and help prevent abuse – and we’re still campaigning for this. You can read about what else we found in our economic abuse study, and our plan of action.
Safe Spaces was created by Hestia and UK SAYS NO MORE to provide a safe and discrete way for anyone experiencing domestic abuse to safely call a helpline, support service or loved one. We’re proud to offer Safe Spaces across our branch network.
Not found what you're looking for?
Contact our support team