Escaping an abusive relationship is certainly not the end of the abuse. Abusers continue to use whatever control that they are still able to execute and for
Narcissist personalities believe they are entitled, have an exaggerated sense of self-importance and require excessive admiration. They are obsessed with how they look and displaying their own success at any cost, they are obsessed with money and exploit others without guilt or shame. They have no empathy – so to see their children go without causes them no distress whatsoever, their continued power and control over you and your children.
The below article certainly resonates with my own case of economic abuse which I endured for some 15 years. Perpetrators need, by the courts and our legal systems, to be made to pay financial compensation to victims. The day that happens will be a
The below article was written by Louise Tickle, a freelance journalist in March 2018 (prior to the recent amendments to the domestic abuse bill to recognise economic abuse) but portrays the reality of economic abuse:
Elizabeth doesn’t dare tell social services, but there have been nights when she and her three kids couldn’t eat. “No heating, no gas. We’ve lived like paupers,” she told me. “He doesn’t pay any maintenance even though legally he’s meant to, so sometimes I can’t pay my nursery bill. That means that even though I’ve left him, my job’s at risk – I can’t take a child into work.”
Her ex-partner has also sent emails to letting agents impugning her ability to afford the rent, meaning she’s had to stump up six months in advance to keep hold of a tenancy. Elizabeth (not her real name) didn’t have that money – she’s had to borrow from friends. Despite paying her rent on time, subsequent damning emails from her ex to letting agents have, she believes, led to her and the children being evicted twice.
He has also repeatedly maligned Elizabeth’s character to her employers. She’s just warned her new boss to expect a coruscating email from to land in his inbox. “He’s spoken to a wide range of people to destroy my reputation. Which I can’t
Domestic abuse still under-reported in England, says Women’s Aid
What Elizabeth is describing is now defined by domestic violence campaigners as “economic abuse”; a vicious and deliberate pattern of behaviour that destroys any hope of a secure future for victims and their children. Thanks to lobbying by the charity Surviving Economic Abuse, it has just been named for the first time in the government’s domestic violence bill. And not a moment too soon.
Economic abuse would be made a crime in its own right, and be part of the statutory definition of domestic abuse, which would make it far easier to prosecute under “coercive and controlling behaviour” legislation. This is still a very new offence, but research by Surviving Economic Abuse found that between December 2015 to March 2017, 35 convictions for coercive and controlling behaviour were reported in the press.
In 21 of those cases, victims were described as having been subjected to various forms of economic abuse. Perpetrators had undermined their ability to earn money – five made their partner leave their job and one threatened to get the victim sacked – or alternatively, to maintain their standard of living. This might include spending money a victim had set aside for bills, destroying their property, or using coercion or fraud to build up debts in a partner’s name. One woman ended up £50,000 in debt; another perpetrator emptied joint bank accounts. Thousands of pounds were “borrowed” from a third victim. Phones were smashed. Some women had their clothes burned or thrown away, costing them money to replace.
Elizabeth now thinks that because she is unable to financially provide for them, she might lose her children.
In every case, it was men abusing women’s ability to live a financially secure and independent life and it turns out you’re never too old or young to be economically abused, with the victims ranging from 18 to 74. It happened in relationships as short as a couple of months and in some, that they had endured for many years. The layers of financial manipulation that typically characterise economic abuse make it difficult for police to investigate and proving Elizabeth’s case has, it seems been too hard for the state to follow through, though the police built a case and recommended that her former partner be charged, the Crown Prosecution Service refused. Too complex and too little chance of a conviction, she was told.
Clearly, these are not going to be simple cases to bring to court. It’s not a fractured eye socket or a punched lung. It’s not a shouting match neighbours can hear and give evidence on. How do police prove a victim has been deliberately prevented from going to work? How do you show that the gas money has been spent, month after month? How do you demonstrate to a jury that a victim has been coerced into taking on annihilating levels of debt?
But we wouldn’t accept a failure to prosecute for other serious crimes just because the prime suspect has done a great job of covering up. More forensic financial expertise is needed, fast, in police investigating teams and there must be more commitment and determination from the CPS. It cannot be that the more complex, subtle and devious the abuse, the less likely an alleged offender is to come before the law.
It’s worth remembering too that there can be wider ramifications to a decision not to prosecute. “The judges [in the family court] have not accepted that this is a domestic abuse case,” Elizabeth told me. “They have accepted everything my ex said because he’s a lawyer and because the police and CPS hadn’t charged. As a lawyer, my ex knows how to manipulate the courts, the legal system, the child maintenance service, so this is the reality – me and the kids sleeping in two beds at my friends and he’s in our old home, which I jointly owned, worth well over a million.”
Elizabeth now thinks that because she is unable to financially provide for them, she might lose her children. “If I don’t get housing soon, I think they’ll be transferred to him”, she told me bleakly. Where’s the justice in that?
And if Elizabeth’s ex were ever to be convicted and jailed for economic abuse, where would that get her? She’s still beyond skint, she and her kids are still sofa surfing and her professional standing has been trashed. Surviving Economic Abuse wants victims of this type of abuse to be financially compensated. But if the perpetrator has assets, why should the state cough up? Surely instead, it would be justice for a court to forensically assess a victim’s losses – and then squeeze their abuser’s bank accounts until they’re dry.