Bank looks to give more support to domestic abuse survivors coerced into debt

A review into how customers who have been pressured into building up debts as part of an abusive relationship can be better supported has been launched by NatWest.

Economic or financial abuse can be an aspect of coercive control in an abusive relationship.

It often involves partners but it can also exist in other family relationships, such as parents and adult children, for example.

Those affected may be pushed into taking on “coercive debt” because they fear that something bad would happen if they did not.

They may be made to have sole responsibility for household bills or be pressured into making purchases on credit. They may be left with very little money to live on themselves.

Coronation Street has recently highlighted economic abuse in its storylines, when Geoff Metcalfe took control of his wife Yasmeen’s finances as part of a wider pattern of abusive behaviour.

Alison Rose
Alison Rose

Alison Rose, chief executive at NatWest, said: “Economic abuse is one of the mechanisms for coercive control, which can have truly devastating impacts on people’s lives.”

NatWest has launched its review in conjunction with domestic abuse charity SafeLives.

It will look at the bank’s internal processes as well as the practical help that can be offered to customers.

This will include examining ways to prevent coercive debt applications, and looking at solutions to the impact of coercive debt on people’s credit scores.

Earlier this year, the bank also announced a £1 million fund to support survivors of economic and domestic abuse.

Liz Thompson, director of external relations at SafeLives, said: “Domestic abuse takes many forms and the impact of economic abuse can be felt just as powerfully as physical and emotional abuse.

“If we are to end domestic abuse as a society, it’s crucial that we look at the whole picture. We all have a role to play in shining a light on abuse and reaching in to offer support.”