What is Family and Domestic Violence?

Family and domestic violence is when someone in an intimate or family relationship engages in controlling behaviours that cause fear or harm to another person in that relationship.

It can affect anyone, regardless of income, cultural background, age, sexual orientation, gender or children, and can occur in de facto or married relationships; within intimate personal relationships, and within informal care relationships.

Family and domestic violence is a crime, and has devastating consequences for individuals, families and the community, often leading to somebody being financially vulnerable as money and resources are commonly used as a means to manipulate and gain control.

This is called financial abuse, and it’s another form of family and domestic violence. It’s one of the most powerful ways an abuser can keep someone trapped in an abusive relationship.

What does financial abuse look like?

Financial abuse can take many forms, and it can often be really difficult to spot. Every person’s situation is unique, but here are some of the most common forms of financial abuse.

  • Controlling behaviour that denies a person financial autonomy, like limiting access to finances, bank accounts and financial records or the ability to work, study or access benefits
  • Withholding or threatening to withhold financial support reasonably necessary for the maintenance of a partner and/or dependent child
  • Coercing a person to relinquish control over assets, take out a loan, credit card, or guarantee a loan in their name for the benefit of the controlling partner
  • Preventing a person from participating in decisions about household expenditure or the sale or disposal of joint property
  • Using control of finances or debt to prevent a person leaving a relationship
  • Demanding all of a person’s spending be justified and evidenced
  • Using the transaction description free-text field in electronic transfers to harass, intimidate or abuse a person
  • Restricting or monitoring a person’s access to mobile phones and the internet
  • Stealing, taking, or ‘borrowing’ a person’s money, debit or credit cards, possessions or property without their knowledge or consent
  • Forcing a person to pay for someone else’s expenses (e.g., utilities, household maintenance, and other expenses).

What can happen when someone is financially abused?

Financial abuse can be extremely emotional and traumatic. Victims might fear for their personal safety, the safety of their children and may feel ashamed or think they won’t be believed or supported.

Someone that has been financially abused may experience any number of the following:

  • Being left responsible for joint loans after a relationship breakdown
  • Poor credit history after taking out a loan for an abusive partner
  • Limited opportunities to gain regular employment
  • Lack of access to funds to cover essential household expenses
  • Homelessness
  • The prospect of long term financial hardship
  • Isolation from family, friends and other support networks
Family and Domestic Violence
“If you or someone you know is experiencing financial abuse, we’re here to help.”

What can we do to help you through financial abuse?

If you or someone you know is experiencing financial abuse, we’re here to help. We have processes in place to support you and help you regain control of your finances. Here are just some of the ways we can help:

  • Updating your contact details, including phone number, email address and a safe address
  • Resetting passwords and changing access codes on your phone banking, mobile and internet banking, and card PINs
  • Opening an account in your name only so you can start depositing money into a new, safe account
  • Changing the operating and signing authority on any joint accounts you may have to require both parties to sign for any withdrawals, including loan redraws
  • Working with each of the people involved on a joint arrangement separately, and where reasonably possible, not require one party to contact or obtain consent from the other account holder/s

How to reach us

We know how difficult it can be to ask for help, but please know we are here to support you. Our friendly Customer Care team are here to help, and you’ll always speak to someone right here in Australia. You can also send us a secure message via Internet Banking or visit us in branch if you feel more comfortable speaking to someone in person.