Financial advice and Support for intimate partner abuse survivors

Financial advice and Support for intimate partner abuse survivors

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Michelle Stella started this petition to UK Parliament and

Financial abuse is one of the ways that abusers exert control: this can be by taking away bank accounts or ownership of utility accounts, controlling spending or income by reducing their partner’s ability to work. These are all elements of coercive control, which often seem “normal” from the outside. 

I am a survivor of abuse and I had to move across the world to be safe. Rebuilding my life has not been easy. I was unable to stay in the USA because I could not get financial support, returning to the UK was equally challenging. The only thing that “saved” me was a bank account I had kept since I was 14, hidden from my ex. Despite having a mortgage still in my name in the UK, it was impossible to get credit and all my UK accounts were in my ex husband’s name. He had taken over all the utility bills and even things in my name were easily transferred to him by customer services. 

With this in mind and so that future survivors don’t have to experience financial stress and hardship, I am working to get official support for them.

This control and abuse continues even once a survivor has left the relationship. Without access to a private bank account, money or credit history, it is incredibly hard to rebuild your life. 

It isn’t unusual for a Bank to ask for permission from a main account holder for  someone in the family to open an account. Often statements are mailed out in error even when paperless has been requested, or a male partner is given automatic control of an account. Stores will often default to speaking to the male partner in person when it comes to managing accounts. 

Beyond this, a person within your intimate circle has access to all your personal details. This means they can often bypass security checks and take over an account. It is vital that we start giving people agency over their own accounts and stop assuming that it is normal for one person to control everything.

I would like the government and financial services sector to work together to create real solutions for survivors and other at risk groups who may benefit.

This is modelled on the successful Australian practice :https://www.ausbanking.org.au/banks-enhance-support-for-family-and-domestic-violence-victims/

I would like to make it easier for survivors to access support. This should be financial advice as well as constructive financial support.  Banks and other institutions are in a position to listen and offer gradual credit, extensions on payments, help with opening accounts and more. 

This would also involve training for customer facing teams, who could intervene early. 

If we train people to recognise the signs of coercive control, we could offer support earlier and make it more challenging for abusers to take control.

If we offer support, we make it easier for survivors to leave safely and rebuild. We can save lives.  We can also begin to change the narrative around what is “normal” financial practice within relationships. We can make it safer and easier for everyone to retain their own financial independence. We would also recognise that financial independence and credit is vital to much integration in today’s world.

Thank you for your time reading and thank you for supporting this. 

Here are some resources for helping survivors if you are concerned about anyone :

https://trashpanda.blog/

 

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At 100 signatures, this petition is more likely to be featured in recommendations!