Rising cost of living keeping people trapped in abusive relationships says Women's Aid

The cost of living crisis is affecting just about all of us, but it's putting one particularly vulnerable group in potential danger.Women suffering domestic abuse are finding it increasingly difficult to leave relationships because their partners are exercising control over household finances to keep them trapped.According to Women's Aid, rising prices are preventing some women from escaping abusive partners, and the current economic turmoil is putting abuse victims at greater risk.

It comes down to 'Economic Control', in other words an abusive and potentially violent person exercising complete control over a woman's access to money as part of a coercive relationship.Marie Brown, director of Foyle Women's Aid in Londonderry, says: "With economic control you can have people abusing a woman's finances, stealing her finances, running up credit, signing names, committing fraud. Quite often the victims are asked 'Well, why didn't you just leave?'. But leaving is not simple if you've got no money. Where are you going to go?"She says the economic abuse may well come on top of emotional, psychological, or even physical abuse.  "We rarely see one form of abuse without at least one or two of the other types of abuses."

Sinéad McLaughlin MLA (SDLP) is calling on government departments to do more to help victims of domestic abuse: "People right across our society are dealing with the cost of living crisis but particularly people that are living in abusive and coercive relationships, and we don't want to go into a winter where women are feeling trapped with an abusive partner, and we have seen in our society many, many deaths.

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"Domestic abuse and economic abuse, there is a correlation between them and that could ultimately lead to their death," she says.That dire warning comes on the back of a recent Women's Aid survey which found that 66% of women who are enduring domestic violence say their abusive partners are using the cost-of-living crisis to tighten their coercive control.The survey also found that 73% of women in abusive relationships say the cost of living is making it more difficult - even impossible - for them to escape.But Women's Aid say the cost of living crisis isn't just making it harder for women to escape an abusive controlling relationship, it's also making it harder for those who managed to break free to recover and then rebuild their lives.For some, the cost of living comes at a high price.

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