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Australia’s hidden problem – financial and economic abuse


Financial abuse is the most under-reported form of domestic and family violence, yet it is one of the more common types of abuse.

Financial abuse involves controlling a person’s financial decision making, their access to money and assets, and is often associated with physical and emotional violence as well.

It’s a hidden form of domestic and family violence within Australia because it’s not often discussed, and many of those impacted may be unaware it is happening until it is very progressed.

1800RESPECT has launched a toolkit for those impacted, to understand and define financial abuse and provide them with access to and information on support pathways.

Most people contacting the service say the financial abuse has been happening for a very long time. This is usually because it takes people a long time to ask for help, often because they think there is nothing they can do.

The toolkit was developed with domestic violence advocates who have experienced financial abuse, including Lisa McAdams and Nicole Lee.

Through sharing their story, they’re letting other people know that there is help available. You can move on and regain choice and control again.

Lisa McAdams describes the financial abuse as a padlock put on a cage of what was an abusive relationship.

“The apartment, mortgage, everything was in my name so there was no harm to him if they didn’t get paid,” said Lisa.

Nicole Lee was unwell in hospital when her husband came in with an estate agent with paperwork for her to sign, to sell her home.

“It was a confronting moment and then he said by the way, I put a deposit on another house,” said Nicole.

Financial abuse can happen to anyone. It is about their behaviour, not yours.

If you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault, domestic or family violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit In an emergency, call 000.