Bullied and broke: How the cost of living crisis causes even more hurt to victims of domestic abuse
But for Lucy*, receiving the key to her own front door didn’t mean freedom. Instead, it locked her into a financially abusive nightmare at the hands of her boyfriend – and 11 years later, she is still staring ruin in the face.
The 28-year-old executive assistant had been with James* since she was 17. All was well in the early days, and she worked hard to pay for their first flat – but quickly, James became financially dependent on her.
‘He’d lose his job and take hundreds of pounds out of the bank constantly. He would claim it was his money, because it was a joint account,’ Lucy recalls.
‘I put money in the bank to save, and he would spend it, claiming it was his. There was emotional and verbal abuse if he didn’t get his own way. It became very toxic.’
James subjected Lucy to ‘King of the Castle’ abuse whereby the perpetrator treats the victim like a servant.
She remembers: ‘I would have been working away, and I’d come home after travelling for hours, and he’d be lying on the sofa, expecting me to clean up after him and then do the cooking.’
When Lucy ended the relationship in 2019, she moved into the spare room. But James, who used drugs, would come home late, throw things around and shout. Finally, she moved in with her parents so she could sell the flat.
‘I was paying the mortgage, paying the bills and he was refusing to sell, pay or leave. It was all about control,’ she says.
Economic abuse is a legally recognised form of domestic abuse which involves the control of a partner or ex-partner’s finances and/or purchases.
It can include sabotaging the victim’s income and access to finances, restricting how they use the money and possessions and exploiting the victim’s economic situation.
Controlling how money is spent, dictating what a partner can buy, providing an allowance, controlling the use of the phone or car, refusing to contribute to household costs and money being taken from joint bank accounts are all abusive behaviours, according to charity Surviving Economic Abuse.
Source of data and images: metro