How does he use money to control her?

When we say money we mean anything to do with money which affects the daily lives of victims and survivors.

One in six women in the UK has experienced economic abuse by a current or former partner and it’s important to understand that it seldom happens in isolation: in most cases perpetrators use other abusive behaviours to threaten and reinforce the economic abuse.

Economic abuse is an aspect of coercive control, whereby the perpetrator restricts the woman’s freedom by controlling her spending and access to bank accounts, housing, house sales, work, education, food, loans, hobbies, food, transport, clothing, heating, electricity, gas, water, benefits, inheritances, mortgages, money for deposit of a new home, repeated court cases, ongoing debt, credit rating, child maintenance, coerced debt, etc.

The charity Surviving Economic Abuse describes it as “designed to reinforce or create economic instability. In this way it limits women’s choices and ability to access safety. Lack of access to economic resources can result in women staying with abusive men for longer and experiencing more harm as a result.”

The list of examples we have highlighted below is based on the power and control wheel and is by no means exhaustive.

If any of the examples we have listed are familiar to you, please reach out to us for support. We’re here for you on 01795 417251 or via our chat service at (Mon-Fri, 10am-1pm). You can also call the free Financial Support Line for Victims of Domestic Abuse which is run in partnership between Surviving Economic Abuse and Money Advice Plus. It offers specialist advice to people experiencing domestic abuse who are in financial difficulty.

Emotional abuse & blackmail

  • He makes her feel guilty about what she spent money on
  • He bribes her
  • He makes her feel like she’s not good with money
  • He checks her receipts and makes her keep a spending diary
  • He makes her justify all her purchases
  • He doesn’t let her buy what she wants or what makes her happy
  • “If you loved me, you’d pay…”
  • “My ex used to pay for…”
  • “If you don’t put your benefits into my account…”

Coercion, threats & intimidation

  • He uses threats and scare tactics, or physical violence to take her money, pin number, take out loans, mortgages, store credit, phone contracts…
  • He breaks her phone so she has to get a new one
  • He steals her property
  • He makes her do sexual or illegal favours in exchange for necessities
  • He threatens to report her for benefit fraud or illegal acts he made her do
  • He forces her to let him move into her home or sell her home

Isolation & restrictions

  • He doesn’t allow her any money to go out and see other people
  • He doesn’t allow her money for hobbies
  • He doesn’t allow her to put petrol in the car or use public transport to see family and friends
  • He moves her away from her support network
  • He doesn’t allow her to work
  • He causes a scene at her workplace or before she goes to work so she quits or gets fired
  • He doesn’t allow her access to financial help, banks/building society, debt management advice
  • He controls the heating, lighting and wifi (using new tech, he doesn’t even need to be at home)

Minimise, deny & blame

  • He hides earning and savings and then denies it
  • “You made me do it/break it…”
  • “I didn’t take out that money, you must have”
  • “You must have lost/mislaid that watch, necklace, money…”
  • “I need to look after the money or you will waste it”
  • “You told me to buy it, don’t you remember?”
  • “If you hadn’t bought…”
  • “They will send you to jail for benefit fraud, it’s your name on that application”


  • He won’t pay child maintenance
  • He’ll stop working or show no earnings if he is self-employed so child maintenance payments are reduced
  • He takes children’s Christmas/Birthday money or takes back their presents for a refund
  • He doesn’t allow money for hobbies and doesn’t provide money for school uniform
  • He makes her go back to work as soon as she’s had a baby or refuses to let her work so she can support the baby and he doesn’t have to do any child care
  • He buys expensive trainers for babies to show off and then complains when they outgrow or ruin them

Male privilege

  • “I am head of the household, I am responsible for all the money and financial decisions”
  • He insists that all earnings be paid into his account
  • “I am the only one clever enough to understand the bank account and how to pay the bills”
  • He doesn’t allow her the passwords to banking apps or pin codes to joint accounts
  • He forbids her from working and uses patriarchal beliefs and gender norms to convince her that he is the breadwinner and a woman’s place is at home
  • “All assets will be in my name and all debts will be in your name”

Fraud & Misrepresentation

  • He pretends to be her or gets someone else to pretend to be her to set up credit or direct debits, loans, credit card applications, hire agreements…
  • He uses her pin number to access her bank accounts without her knowledge or permission
  • He steals her work equipment or uses access codes to steal from her employer’s bank accounts or take their property – which can lead to her losing her job, getting a criminal record and being sent to jail, whilst there is no action taken against him
  • He blames her when he gets a speeding ticket and tells the police that she said he was insured
  • He says debt has been paid so that she blames the company for getting it wrong

Post Separation Economic Abuse

  • He refuses to let her sell the house
  • He stops her changing the terms of the mortgage or rental agreements/tenancy
  • He refuses to move out of the family home so she has to rent somewhere and cover costs of both properties
  • He sabotages the house sale
  • He still takes out loans in her name so she has a poor credit rating
  • He refuses to pay child maintenance
  • He says they will pay for joint presents for the children, then refuses to pay after she has purchased the gift
  • He doesn’t change his address to affect her credit rating

Post-separation abuse and coercive control are criminal offences in the UK