Support My Independence: Understanding financial abuse

This project is a collaboration with the Centre for Women's Economic Safety drawing on insights from people with lived experience of economic abuse (also referred to as financial abuse), in the context of an intimate partner relationship.

Economic abuse is a common aspect of domestic and family violence and can continue, or start, post-separation. One of the challenges with economic abuse is the way perpetrators can deceive and use business and other institutions to facilitate and extend their abuse.

The aim of this project is to create a resource that supports businesses and other organisations to become more informed about economic abuse and better at designing responses, products and services to avoid complicity.

What is economic abuse?

The terms economic abuse and financial abuse are often used interchangeably. Economic abuse represents a broader set of behaviours and is a form of family violence that:

“… involves behaviors that control a [person’s] ability to acquire, use and maintain economic resources, thus threatening her [or his] economic security and potential for self-sufficiency.”

Economic abuse includes a range of behaviours carried out by a perpetrator such as:

  • controlling a victim’s access to cash and bank accounts
  • hiding financial information and assets
  • sabotaging study and/or employment opportunities
  • forcing a partner to take out debt, and
  • manipulating finances to avoid or reduce child support payments.

Adams, A. (2008). 'Development of the Scale of Economic Abuse'. Violence Against Women, 14, 563-588.

Support for financial abuse

If you are experiencing economic abuse from a current or former partner, or you are still dealing with the consequences of abuse, there are organisations that can support you. The Centre for Women's Economic Safety (CWES) provides a directory with links to organisations that may be useful.


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Lived Experience Insights | Financial Abuse

The collection hosts insights based on interviews with people with lived experience of domestic and family violence focused on the financial abuse they experienced. The initiative to conduct the interviews was from an informal pro-bono collaboration by Rosie’s Place, WASH House, and the Mt Druitt Family Violence Team. The narratives were provided by the individuals for the benefit of others.

The interviews were conducted by Rosie’s Place and the narratives were assembled by the Insight Exchange team.

Open the collection of lived experience insights about experiences of financial abuse.

Acknowledgement and thanks

The Insight Exchange team would like to thank Rosie’s Place for conducting these interviews and providing these transcripts to Insight Exchange to ensure the voices of lived experience are able to help inform and strengthen social, service and systemic responses to domestic and family violence.

Open the list of lived experience insights of experiences of financial abuse

  • Deepa '"You are not my wife. I just keep you to work here."'
  • Amrita 'He only married me so he could keep me as a slave. I was tricked into marrying him.'
  • Tamara 'Meanwhile, he was pouring money through the poker machines.'
  • Maryam '"I told you three years ago that you need to leave that man”.’
  • Bronwyn 'He would try and make me get money from my mother as she was on income support as well'.
  • Amira 'His money was his money, and my money was our money'.
  • Belinda 'It was his way or no way.'
  • Anna 'Thirty dollars a fortnight for four kids.'
  • Renee  'Once I gave up work, my control went.'
  • Brittany  'I was like the ATM.'
  • Liz  'When you have nowhere to go, what do you do?'
  • Jasmin  'When he'd come around, money would go missing.'
  • Teresa  '"This is my home. I am the boss here."'
  • Rochelle  'I was a very independent person before I met this guy.'
  • Helena  'He would take the keys to the car to leave me without a car.'
  • Deb  'He must have had another bank account I didn't know about.'
  • Allanah  'He would use my money with the promise of paying it back.'
  • Jessica  'Nothing we'd had together was in my name, so I had nothing.'

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