1 in 5 women in the UK have experienced economic abuse: Learn how to spot the signs
  • 5.5 million women in the UK have been affected by economic abuse, with one third of survivors aged between 18-241 

  • Almost half (2.5 million) of those affected   have had access to their bank account restricted by a partner or ex-partner

  • Early signs include criticism of spending habits, indifference to a partner’s financial and professional success, and asserting dominance through handling all financial matters

  • Experian’s latest episode of The Cost of Loving podcast sheds light on the issue and sees motivational speaker and domestic abuse survivor, Malin Anderson, discuss her experiences, alongside CEO of Surviving Economic Abuse, Dr Nicola Sharps-Jeffs

Episode 5 of Experian’s The Cost of Loving has launched, tackling the lesser-discussed issue of Financial Abuse, following research revealing that 5.5 million women in the UK have experienced some form of economic abuse in the past year.

Whilst economic abuse is an umbrella term to refer to the many ways that an abuser may control someone’s economic situation i.e. money, employment, housing, financial abuse is a sub-category that specifically refers to matters of money.

Research from Surviving Economic Abuse showed that one in 11 women have had access to their bank account restricted by a current or ex-partner, and 1 in 13 have had credit taken out in their name without their consent – equivalent to 2.1 million women. 1 in 9 women have even been stopped from accessing vital and personal belongings such as food, shampoo, or even medication – equivalent to almost  3 million people.

1 in 3 people in relationships nowadays admit to only staying because they fear ‘not being able to afford living alone’2 – something that can often be a result of the financial dependency or debt caused by financial abuse.

The Experian podcast episode sees former Love Island star and motivational speaker, Malin Andersson open up about her experience of financial abuse, alongside Dr Nicola Sharp-Jeffs, CEO of Surviving Economic Abuse, as they help raise awareness and shed light on how to spot the warning signs.

Malin, a survivor of domestic abuse (of which financial abuse played a significant part), talks openly about how her ex-partner ‘guilt-tripped’ her into lending him £10,000 that she’d come into after her mother’s death, reassuring her that he’d pay it back. As in many financially abusive situations, she never saw that money again. But it wasn’t only financial theft that affected her - she describes how when shopping with her ex-partner, she’d be met with comments like ‘You don’t need that. You’ve got so much stuff. You don’t need that,’ pressuring her into agreeing with him and preventing her from making her own financial decisions.

Research from Experian highlighted that 15% of young people aged 18-35 said their partner had put bills in their name and then not paid them, causing detrimental effects on their own credit score3 and more than 1 in 4 (29%) said that they’d discovered their partner had made a big financial purchase without telling them.

During the episode Anna Williamson, Celebs Go Dating therapist and host of The Cost of Loving podcast series, also opens up with previously unshared personal anecdotes, including being pressurised by an ex-partner to take out a significant loan in her twenties – something that according to Experian data has happened to 1 in 10 (10%) young people in relationships.

Shockingly, economic abuse was shown to disproportionately affect younger women, with 35% of victim-survivors aged 18-24, and almost twice as many women from Black, Asian and ethnic minority backgrounds experiencing economic abuse compared to White women. Despite this, financial and economic abuse can affect anyone, regardless of gender, age and race, so anyone who feels at risk should always reach out for help.

Whilst discussing some of the dilemmas that many victim-survivors find themselves in, the Cost of Loving episode offers guidance and hope, and guest, Malin, shares her light at the end of the tunnel – the moment she finally felt that she’d regained her financial independence by securing the keys to her dream home which she now shares with her daughter. 

The Cost of Loving podcast host, Anna Williamson, said: "As someone who has experienced financial abuse first hand but never spoken about it publicly before, I was so moved by this episode, and it was incredibly cathartic to share my experiences, particularly alongside two incredible women in Malin and Nicola who could understand and relate. I'm so proud of this episode and hope that it'll show that there is a light at the end of the tunnel for those who are experiencing financial abuse, as well as supporting friends and family of those at risk in spotting the signs."

James Jones, Head of Consumer Affairs at Experian added: “It’s startling to see how many people are impacted by financial abuse in the UK. It’s vital to raise awareness of the warning signs, both for those who might be at risk themselves, as well as those who are concerned for a loved one. The latest episode in The Cost of Loving podcast is the most important yet, as our inspiring guests share their personal stories whilst also offering support and guidance to listeners.

Our partners at Surviving Economic Abuse already do a fantastic job at supporting victim-survivors, and we encourage anyone who is going through a difficult situation, like Malin or Anna did, to reach out to the charity for vital information on how to get support.”

To help spot the signs, Experian has worked closely with Surviving Economic Abuse to share these early warning signs of potential economic, including financial abuse: 

1. Constant criticism of spending habits – Look out for phrases such as ‘Are you sure you really need that?’ or ‘You’re not really going to spend money on that, are you?’ Whilst these phrases may not be uncommon, if your partner is constantly criticising your spending, to the extent that they seem to want to control how you spend your money, this could be an early sign of abuse.

2. Creating a sense of financial dependency – Whilst it’s perfectly normal and healthy for partners enjoy both shared and individual finances in a relationship, financial abuse develops when one partner cuts the other off from all financial matters. Hearing phrases such as ‘Don’t worry about that – you wouldn’t understand, I’ll sort it,’ when it comes to finances is controlling, and even if your partner is the more financially savvy of the two of you, you should still have knowledge of and an equal say in your shared financial situation.

3. Refusing to contribute to their share of the bills or borrowing money and never paying it back – Not all financial abuse looks to restrict the victim from accessing their own finances. Lots of cases occur when the perpetrator takes advantage of a victim-survivors’ money by making her pick up the tab for all the bills or requesting cash repeatedly and not paying it back, leading to debt and credit issues. Lending money to a loved one isn’t an issue, but repeated requests for money, particularly if you are being guilt tripped into lending, or refusing to contribute to their agreed share of the tab is a red flag.

4. Negative attitude towards your financial or professional success – As discussed by Malin in the podcast, when a partner seems indifferent or even angered by your success, this could be a warning sign. If a partner is trying to make it difficult for you to do your work or is holding you back from going for promotion that would be good for you and your family, it’s a red flag.  Two partners should champion each other, and a pay rise or promotion should be celebrated, not punished.

5. Deliberate isolation from friends and family – Like other forms of domestic abuse, financial abuse sees the abuser look to cut the victim off from friends, and family to reduce the ‘risk’ of intervention and therefore increase their vulnerability. Always make sure to keep communication channels open with trusted friends and family, even if you don’t always feel like sharing everything in your relationship. And if you are worried about a family member or friend, reach out to them and let them know that you are there for them whatever.

If you are worried you might be experiencing economic abuse or a family member or friend might be, visit the Surviving Economic Abuse website for further information on accessing support: https://survivingeconomicabuse.org/i-need-help/

The final episode of the Cost of Loving podcast is available now on SpotifyApple and all major streaming platforms. For more information and support on how to improve financial health, head to https://www.experian.co.uk/.


Notes to Editors:

1 Data based on a survey of over 2,000 UK women, conducted by Opinium on behalf of Surviving Economic Abuse in October/November 2023


3 Based on a survey of 2000 18-35 year olds conducted by 3Gem January 2024

Full Experian data set:

  • The average debt from dating and relationships amongst 18-35 year olds is £2246.50

  • 5% of young men have gotten themselves into over £10,000 of debt from dating/relationships

  • 59% of young people say social media influencer has contributed to expectations to overspend on their partner

  • 63% believe social media has influenced people to date for money and materialistic reasons over love

  • 36% of men have browsed a potential date’s social media profile to check if they could afford their lifestyle vs 28% of women

  • Of 10.1 million 18-30 year olds, 16.6% are currently in arrears or default meaning they have overdue debt or have failed to repay loans

  • Of the demographic in question, younger men use the greatest proportion of their available credit - with the average credit usage for 18-21 year old men coming in at 33.4% vs. 25.7% for 26-30 year old males3

  • 27% have lied about their financial situation to a partner and 19% wouldn’t trust their partner enough with finances to open a joint account together

  • 43% have been in financial debt

  • Biggest ways people have got into debt from dating:

  • Spent all of their savings (39%)

  • Gone into their overdraft (35%)

  • Taken out a credit card (26%)

  • Maxed out their credit card (23%)

  • Taken out a legal loan (20%)

  • Used a loan shark (10%)

  • 29% of people say their partner has made a big financial purchase without telling them

  • 51% say in a relationship they’re cautious of their partner’s spending habits

  • 19% have been in a relationship that ended due to financial troubles

  •  1 in 2 (51%) said they were cautious of their partner’s spending habits.

  •  66% of people experience financial anxiety (73% women and 59% men)

  • 38% feel under pressure to treat their partner to lavish gifts or experiences based on expectations set by social media (41% men, 35% women)

  • 37% say their partner’s financial anxiety has affected their relationship in a negative way

Full Surviving Economic Abuse data set:

  • 1 in 5 women had experienced some form of economic abuse in the last year. This is equivalent to 5.5 million UK women. 

  • 1 in 11 women had access to their bank account restricted by a current or ex-partner – equivalent to almost  2.5 million women.

  • 1 in 9 women have been stopped from accessing vital and personal belongings such as food, shampoo, or even medication – equivalent to almost  3 million people

  •  1 in 13 women have had credit taken out in their name without their consent or their credit rating deliberately destroyed – equivalent to 2.1 million women

  • Shockingly economic abuse was shown to disproportionately affect younger women, with 35% of victim-survivors aged between 18 and 24.

  • The research also found that Black, Asian and other women from ethnic minority backgrounds were nearly twice as likely to experience economic abuse than White women – with 32% reporting experiencing economic abuse compared to 18% of White women.

About the podcast

The Cost of Loving is a 5 part podcast series hosted by Celebs Go Dating therapist Anna Williamson in partnership with Experian, which delves into the intersection between dating and finances.

●      Episode 1: Gender Expectations 

○      Special guests: Tayo & Antoinette Oguntonade, Financial Influencers

○      Launch date: Available now

This episode explores gender stereotypes and expectations within the world of dating, from splitting the bill to gifting as a love language. 

●      Episode 2: Wage Gap Relationships 

○      Special guest: Devamsha Gunput (@devamshagunput), aka ‘the financial hot girl’, and authors and lifestyle influencers @twodadsinlondon

○      Launch date: Available now

This episode addresses wage disparity in relationships, including the subsequent power dynamics and how to navigate open and honest conversations about finances with your partner. 

●      Episode 3: Dating, Debt, Financial Anxiety & Financial Infidelity

○      Special guest: Megan Micklewright / The Savvy Spender - financial educator & content creator 

○      Launch date: Available now

This episode explores dishonesty surrounding finances within a relationship - or ‘financial infidelity’, and how and when to have transparent, honest conversations about your financial situation with a romantic partner. 

●      Episode 4 - Financial Break-ups

○      Launch date: Available now

○      Special guest: Oenone Forbat, author, podcaster and inflluencer, and Curtis Pritchard, TV personality & professional dancer

This podcast episode explores the financial problems and dilemmas associated with break-ups as well as the cost implications of breaking up and having to resplit finances.

●      Episode 5: Financial Red Flags 

○      Launch date: Available Tuesday 12th March 

○      Special guest: Malin Andersson, motivational speaker and Dr Nicola Sharp-Jeffs, CEO of Surviving Economic Abuse

Experts on the podcast will discuss ‘red flags’ and warning signs of financial abuse within a relationship, offering advice to those who have been affected by financial abuse and tips on how to spot someone who might be in an abusive relationship.

About Experian

Experian is the world’s leading global information services company. During life’s big moments – from buying a home or a car, to sending a child to college, to growing a business by connecting with new customers – we empower consumers and our clients to manage their data with confidence. We help individuals to take financial control and access financial services, businesses to make smarter decisions and thrive, lenders to lend more responsibly, and organisations to prevent identity fraud and crime.  

We have 22,000 people operating across 32 countries and every day we’re investing in new technologies, talented people, and innovation to help all our clients maximise every opportunity. With corporate headquarters in Dublin, Ireland, we are listed on the London Stock Exchange (EXPN) and are a constituent of the FTSE 100 Index.  

Learn more at www.experianplc.com or visit our global content hub at our global news blog for the latest news and insights from the Group.  

About Anna Williamson

Anna Williamson is a TV, radio and podcast broadcaster, no. 1 best-selling author and relationships therapist and counsellor. Anna uses this diverse skillset as the dating expert and presenter on Celebs Go Dating (E4), One Night Stand (E4), and Save Well, Spend Better (C4), as well as having tackled several hard-hitting films for BBC1 show Inside Out, and was the mental health expert for many years on For Your Info on Sky Kids.