PART 1: Establish some independence.
If you are thinking about leaving an abusive partner, and/or you want to establish some financial independence, here are some steps to consider taking first.
Safety: Some of these steps may not be possible. Only take the steps you feel safe to take.
In an emergency call Triple Zero (000)
1. Create a free, private email account
Having a private email address is a great way to quietly communicate with a range of organisations. You will also need an email address if you want to set up a bank account online, so it is important to have one that your partner is not aware of. To reduce the chance of your new email address being discovered, set up your new account on a device that your partner does not have access to, for instance, a friend’s phone or computer. Consider a secure and encrypted free email provider like ProtonMail.
2. Gather important documents
If it’s safe to do so, secure important documents such as passports and birth certificates or take copies of these documents. Digital photos or copies can be be stored online by emailing them to yourself using your new, private email address or using a free, online storage platform like Google Drive. Alternatively, the documents could be left for safekeeping with a person you trust.
* For a detailed checklist of documents to consider getting copies of, download this fact sheet and read page 2.
3. Open a bank account in your name only
If you leave your partner, it will be important to have a bank account that your partner doesn’t know about and can’t access. Your pay or benefit payments can then be paid to this account. To open a new bank account you will need to have two forms of identification, a safe postal address, an email address and mobile phone number. We recommend opening an account where you are not already a customer to reduce the risk of accidental disclosure to your partner.
** If you are not an Australian resident or your partner has prevented you from accessing your ID, download this fact sheet and read page 2 for more information.
4. Save some money
If possible, deposit money into your new bank account. If you’re unable to open a bank account, consider if a friend or family member may be willing to look after some of your money for you.
If you are leaving your home because of domestic violence, you may be eligible for a Crisis Payment from Centrelink. This needs to be claimed within 7 days of leaving. Call Centrelink on 132 850 or if you want to speak with Centrelink in a language other than English, call 131 202.
5. Get support
If you are considering leaving an abusive partner, there are organisations that can assist you to plan your next steps. There is also a range of support available to help you escape and rebuild from economic abuse. Visit the CWES Directory of Information & Services for more details.
To talk to someone about your options, call the national domestic and family violence helpline 1800RESPECT (1800 737 732). If you want to use an interpreter to speak with someone at 1800RESPECT, call the Translating and Interpreting Service on 131 450 first.
Download this fact sheet in different languages:
Steps to Financial Safety – Tamil (combines First Steps and Next Steps)
If you are ready to consider your next steps, review the Fact Sheet – Next steps to economic safety.