Sadly for many, physical separation from an abusive partner does not always mean an end to the abuse. It can take enormous resolve to end such a relationship in the first place and to the find problems persisting will be demoralising.
We often see this happening in the form of financial control. It can take many forms. It may be withholding housekeeping if still together, withholding maintenance payments, failing to pay capital due as part of a financial settlement or finding you are responsible for debt that your ex made you to take on in your sole name. Exerting power and influence over another individual’s life in this way is done to deliberately create a dependency or a subordination over the individual to restrict what they can and cannot do.
This week is Challenge Poverty Week in Scotland, and we are looking to highlight the very real impact financial control can have on families. Financial or economic abuse is an example of coercive control. In Scotland, the provisions of the Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Act 2018 made coercive controlling behaviour a criminal offence. The provisions of the Act are not just applicable to enduring relationships but to those that have come to an end where that controlling behaviour persists.
It does not always necessarily follow that court action is the only way to go but it is important to be aware of the potentially wide application of the Act. It is there to offer protection from this behaviour and, it has to be hoped, a deterrent to those exerting such financial control. Domestic abuse is not just physical or verbal assault. Of great significance is the reach of this Act to those relationships that have already ended. It may be that there is already a separation agreement providing for payment of maintenance or capital – this may be an enforceable agreement, which means that steps can be taken to recover the money due to you. It may be that child maintenance can be claimed with the assistance of the Child Maintenance Service. It may just take your solicitor contacting your ex to stop it – bullying behaviour will continue for as long as it goes unchallenged. Being confronted by a third party who spells out the consequences of the behaviour may be enough to stop it in its tracks.
Seeking emotional, practical and legal advice to consider all of your options is important. Making informed choices can do so much to give back a sense of confidence and see that there is a way forward. We not only can provide the legal advice but can sign post you to organisations in your area which can assist with practical and emotional support.