How to tell if you’re a financial abuse victim
One in four Australians have experienced some form of financial abuse and this is expected to worsen as the pandemic continues.
A YouGov survey of more than 10,000 Australians on behalf of the Commonwealth Bank found 26 per cent of adults had suffered some form of monetary abuse while another 12 per cent know someone who has been a victim of it.
Financial Counselling Australia's chief executive officer Fiona Guthrie said family violence rates were "skyrocketing" during the lockdown and it often resulted in financial problems among couples.
"It harms people so the first step is to recognise it and depending on the situation you need to think about how you are going to get control over your own financial situation," she said.
"Sometimes people have to set up secret bank accounts."
The research found of those who had experienced financial abuse the most common behaviours included:
• 61 per cent said the perpetrator used all their partner's wages for household expenses while spending their own money on themselves.
• 56 per cent said assets were hidden.
• 55 per cent said the perpetrator took complete control of their partner's finances.
• 55 per cent said the perpetrator refused to contribute to the household expenses.
Ms Guthrie said fewer people had sought free financial help during the pandemic because millions of Australians had increased Jobseeker allowances and were able to access their superannuation early.
"We worry it's the calm before the storm," she said.
The Commonwealth Bank has announced it is increasing its support for those suffering financial abuse caused by domestic and family violence, launching its "Next Chapter" program to offer services, support, resources and research.
The bank's chief executive officer Matt Comyn said financial abuse was a common problem and more help needed to be available.
"It's a hidden epidemic in our country that has directly affected one in four Australian adults and we want to change that," he said.
They are rolling out a new partnership with charitable organisation Good Shepherd to provide free access to people suffering family violence no matter who they bank with.
This includes direct financial assistance, safe banking and referrals to family violence counsellors and experts.
CBA expects to support more than 125,000 customers in vulnerable circumstances over the next five years.
If you are experiencing domestic or family violence call 1800 RESPECT.
IMPACTS OF FINANCIAL ABUSE
• Being left responsible for joint loans following a relationship breakdown.
• Poor credit history.
• Limited opportunity to get employment.
• Lack of funds to cover household expenses.
• Prospect of long-term financial hardship.
Originally published as How to tell if you're a financial abuse victim