The rising cost of living is affecting millions of households across the UK.

Increasing energy bills, greater costs of food, groceries and travel, and higher rents and mortgages mean many of us have less money than before.

It’s a worrying time for many people. And if you’re living with abuse or violence, it can feel like a challenging situation.

You may be in the position where you can’t afford to leave the abuser. You may worry about financial hardship, destitution or homelessness if you were to leave.

If you’re in this situation and feel stuck, please know you’re not alone. You may feel there’s no way out from the abuse because you have few financial options, but support is available.

Economic abuse or control is often a major factor in domestic abuse situations. The abuser may use the rising cost of living to tighten their control over you, or push you into further hardship or debt.

Here are some ways they may increase their abuse during this time:

  • Running up higher energy bills deliberately or to harm you. For example, by leaving appliances on, or turning up the thermostat to increase heating bills. Or, using the rising cost of living as an excuse not to put the heating on.
  • Claiming they’re unable to pay you money they owe you because they can’t afford it. Eg not giving you rent or money towards utility bills, or making you pay extra for bills, household spending or essentials for your children while keeping their money for their own leisure activities.
  • Controlling what you spend, for example on food shopping, and making you account for every penny.
  • Taking out new or further credit agreements in your name (or making you take them out) to gain access to funds during this difficult time.
  • If you have an insecure immigration status, and so lack access to money, the abuser may use this to make you feel more isolated or feel like you have no power.
  • Increasing the severity of abuse they normally show because they say they’re stressed or worried about money.
  • Restricting your access to money or goods (eg your access to a car). Or restricting them more than normal, blaming it on the rising cost of living.
  • Stealing from you, or making you buy things for them as they ‘can’t afford’ to spend their money.
  • If you don’t live together, spending more time at your home to reduce their own heating, food or energy bills. Or pressuring you to move in together so they can save money.
  • Scrutinising your spending (more than they normally do).
  • Restricting how often and where you go out, and with whom, giving the excuse of the rising cost of living. Eg saying you can’t go to an exercise class as it costs too much, or saying you can’t meet friends for a coffee. Another sign of economic abuse is not allowing you to go out to work and have financial independence.

If you’ve recognised any of the points above in your relationship, please know this behaviour is not OK. If you’d like to speak to someone, you can call our free Supportline any time on 08 08 16 89 111 or start a live chat.

The charity Surviving Economic Abuse has a breakdown of what financial support, grants and benefits you may be able to claim.

This includes information about what support is available to pay your energy bills, how you may be able to access a food bank, how you can check what benefits you’re eligible for and information about hardship grants from your local council.

They also run the Financial Support Line for victims of domestic abuse – 0808 1968845 (Monday-Friday, 9am–1pm and 2pm–5pm). It offers specialist advice to anyone experiencing domestic abuse who is in financial difficulty.

Help for households

The website has information on what support is available from the government. And there’s also a tool to check what benefits and financial support you can get.

If you’re in Wales, there’s information on the website.

The following websites also have specific information:

If you’re in a relationship and being abused, or have experienced domestic abuse in the past, we can help you move forward with free and confidential support.

We’ll help you think through your options and come up with a plan to put safeguards and support in place for you and your family.

If you need to speak to someone, we’re available every day, night and day. Call our free and 24 hour Supportline now on 08 08 16 89 111 or start a live chat any time.

Find out the different ways you can get confidential and free support now.

How an independent domestic violence advocate (IDVA) at Victim Support has helped a victim-survivor during the rising cost of living:

“The cost of living crisis meant that I stayed in my abusive relationship for longer.

“The support the IDVA gave to me after I left my abuser helped me to get back on my feet. That initial support helped me break the control my abuser had over me.

“If I hadn’t been given the financial support I might have gone back to him for fear of not being able to manage. My IDVA got me money for food and other things.”

(Victim-survivor of domestic abuse)

There are many national helplines you can call if you need to talk. We’ve put some links to support helplines and websites below.

If you’re worried about the abuser knowing you’ve visited certain websites, you can delete your browsing history and/or use private browsing options on your device. The Women’s Aid website has more information about covering your tracks online.

Domestic abuse support:

Specialist domestic abuse support:

If you’re thinking of leaving…

One of the most dangerous times for a victim-survivor of domestic abuse is when they attempt to leave the relationship. We know separation increases your risk of further abuse including stalking or harassment.

Domestic abuse is about control. If the perpetrator becomes aware you’re planning to leave the relationship, this could result in them taking greater risks to control you.

If you’re thinking of leaving you can speak to us at Victim Support (08 08 16 89 111) or the National Domestic Abuse Helpline (0808 2000 247) to discuss your options and work out a safety plan.

When you report a crime to the police, they should automatically ask if you’d like help from an organisation like Victim Support. But anyone affected by crime can contact us directly – you don’t need to talk to the police to get our help.

You can get in touch by:

You can also create a free account on My Support Space – an online resource with interactive guides (including guides on unhealthy behaviours in relationships and domestic abuse) to help you manage the impact crime has had on you.

If English is not your first language and you’d like support, call our Supportline and let us know which language you speak. We’ll call you back with an interpreter as soon as possible. We also welcome calls via Relay UK and SignLive (BSL).

Families and friends affected by crime can also contact us for support and information. If you’re a child or young person under 18 and are looking for support, visit our children and young people website for information.

Further support and information: