Victims saddled with debt by abusive partners to get extra support
Domestic abuse victims in Suffolk unfairly left by their partners owing thousands of pounds in debt will get extra support to help cope with their financial difficulties.
Anglia Care Trust (ACT), which provides a range of community support services across the region, has been awarded money from the Suffolk Police and Crime Commissioner’s Fund after noticing rising numbers of partners facing hardship.
Financial abuse is where controlling partners prevent victims from accessing money or even stop them from earning it.
In some cases, abusers will even leave partners to pick up the bill for huge debts which the perpetrators ran up.
Even though ACT - based in Ipswich but working across Suffolk, Norfolk and Essex - said the number of cases it is seeing is “growing”, it believes it has been a hidden crisis for many years because victims have been too scared to seek help.
“We started working on this issue with some money from Comic Relief a few years ago,” said ACT director of business support Jane Simpson.
“We started to see this huge, hidden need.
“The more we’ve got involved with it, the more victims of it there seem to be.
“More of it seems to be unravelling. I think it is growing. The more we tackle it and the more work we do in that area, the more that is exposed.”
Ms Simpson added: “If you want advice normally, you’d go to Citizens Advice.
“But to walk into Citizens Advice, you’ve got to try and get away from the perpetrator you’re trying to leave.”
It may not even be possible for some victims, she explained, as they might not be able to escape their abuser’s gaze without attracting attention.
The £20,000 funding from Suffolk PCC Tim Passmore for the Freedom from Financial Abuse project will pay for extra support workers in the county, who will be able to meet victims in safer settings to give them much-needed advice.
“Our job is to take the fear away,” Ms Simpson said, who stressed the support is given in the strictest confidence and with the utmost discretion.
“We could meet in another setting, whether it is in Costa or on a bench on the seafront at Felixstowe if that’s where people feel comfortable.
“We’ll then work with whoever they owe money to and explain how the debt has been accrued, as well as work with them to stop them becoming in debt.”
For more information, visit Anglia Care Trust’s website.