One in six have suffered financial abuse at hands of partner, study finds

New research has revealed just shy of one in six people in Britain have suffered economic or financial abuse at the hands of their partner.

Aviva’s study found 40% of Brits are victims of such abuse, with spouses and partners being the perpetrator in 39% of those cases. Other common perpetrators include friends, parents, siblings, colleagues, and employers.

This comes as the FCA identified a 15% rise in consumers’ vulnerability – partly as a result of decreased financial resilience – in May last year. Accordingly, 61% of financial abuse victims say the cost of living crisis has worsened their situation.

Of these victims, men are more likely to admit to being victims than women (53% vs 34%). Yet, men are less likely to experience this type of abuse at the hands of a partner (33%) compared to nearly half of women (47%).

Of the respondents who say they suffered economic or financial abuse, one in eight said the perpetrator took control of what they bought. Just under one in 10 say their debit or credit card was used to pay for items without their knowledge; 7.5% received “pocket money from their own bank account” (rising to 16% of 18-24 year olds) and a similar number (7%) had contracts taken out in their name for the perpetrator to use (i.e. mobile phones, credit cards, mortgages, and loans). 2.5% even made their victims change the beneficiary of their will.

The survey goes on to reveal that the average age that financial or economic abuse occurred was 33, but almost a third (31%) say it happened between the ages of 18-24.

For just under a third of victims the abuse carried on for months, but a quarter say it happened for years, and sadly, 6% say it is still happening – this is particularly relevant to women where 40% say abuse lasts for years, or is still happening, compared to 25% of men. However, men seem to recover financial resilience more quickly, with 60% of them recovering within a year, compared to just 35% of women.

Reassuringly, 76% spoke to someone about the incident(s) – a quarter say they spoke to their friends and family and almost as many spoke to their bank before speaking to the police (13%) or any other professional body, such as victim support (13%).

“This research reveals just how widespread economic abuse is in the UK. It highlights how for many and particularly women, abuse by an intimate partner can last several years,” said Dr Nicola Sharp-Jeffs OBE, CEO and founder of Surviving Economic Abuse (SEA), continuing:

It also highlights how this form of abuse is rarely just a one-off event, but part of a wider pattern of coercive and controlling behaviour.”

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