What is Economic Abuse?

Financial Abuse

Financial abuse is a subset of economic abuse that involves a pattern of behaviour that affects a person’s ability to acquire, use or maintain money or finances.

Economic resources are broader than money or finances, including housing, transport, food, employment and study.

Both economic and financial abuse undermine economic and financial safety and can have devastating long-term consequences.

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Economic Safety

Economic safety is vital to a person’s wellbeing. It is the human right to a standard of living adequate for the health and wellbeing of a person and their family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of circumstances beyond their control.


Economic safety means being free of economic abuse and includes:

  • Receiving fair and appropriate financial support for your wellbeing and the wellbeing of children, or others, in your care
  • Having access to appropriate financial products to help manage your finances
  • Having structural and systemic support to maintain and build your economic security over time.


1. Adams, A. et al (2008). Development of the Scale of Economic Abuse. Violence Against Women, 14, 563-588.
2. Postmus, J. L., Plummer, S. B., & Stylianou, A. M. (2016). Measuring Economic Abuse in the Lives of Survivors: Revising the Scale of Economic Abuse. Violence Against Women, 22, 692–703.
3. Article 25 of the UN Declaration of Human Rights.


Get Help

If you’re worried you might be experiencing economic abuse, or you’re concerned about someone else, please explore the CWES Financial Safety site for information and services that may be able to help.
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