The former Spice Girl Mel B has delivered a report on economic abuse to Downing Street as the Government prepares to include this form of abuse in its statutory definition of domestic abuse for the first time.
The report, published by Women’s Aid, reveals that nearly half of the women surveyed by the charity said that they did not have enough money to pay for basic essentials like food and bills while they were with their abusive partner.
Over two in five women were in debt as a result of the economic abuse, the charity found. While one third had to give up their home either as a result of experiencing economic abuse or leaving their abusive partner.
Women’s Aid surveyed 72 women survivors as part of their first Survivors’ Voices Survey, which forms the basis of their report, The Economics of Abuse.
‘When you have no access to your own money, you can feel completely trapped,’ said Melanie Brown, who is a patron of Women’s Aid.
‘I know because I was trapped in a controlling marriage with an abusive partner for 10 years. When I built up the courage to leave my abuser, I had just $936 to my name.
‘Like many other survivors that Women’s Aid has supported and who feature in their latest report, The Economics of Abuse, I had to borrow money from a friend when I left just so I could keep a roof over my head.’
Sarah Davidge, research, evaluation and development officer at Women’s Aid and co-author of the report, said: ‘When you have no access money, you can feel completely trapped. Economic abuse is often used by abusers to control their partner and stop her from leaving.
‘No woman should be faced with the awful reality of either her family being plunged into homelessness and poverty or staying put with the abuser. We need to remove the barriers that are put in the way of survivors escaping domestic abuse and help her rebuild her life.
‘The Government’s commitment to including economic abuse in the statutory definition of domestic abuse in its forthcoming domestic abuse bill is very welcome. By naming economic abuse, we can take the first step to challenging it.
‘But what is clear from our Survivors’ Voices Survey is that women need both access to resources and specialist support to help them escape the long-lasting damaging impact of domestic abuse.’