Are you being hurt or controlled by someone you love?

Domestic abuse is the misuse of power and control by one person over another. It is rarely a one-off event and tends to escalate in frequency and severity over time. You may be experiencing abuse even if your abuser is never violent.

Under the 2015 Serious Crime Act it is an offence to exercise coercive control over a partner or family member. Coercive control may include emotional and verbal abuse such as pressure tactics, harassment, being constantly shouted at or being isolated from family and friends, or financial abuse like withholding money, forcing you to take out loans, not allowing you to earn your own money, or the constant monitoring or questioning of your finances.

Domestic abuse can affect anyone regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, income levels or ability.  It may surprise you to know that Surrey has some of the highest domestic abuse rates in the country. Of those reporting abuse to the Surrey domestic abuse outreach services 78% are suffering emotional abuse, which often goes unrecognised. Financial abuse may be difficult to see too but it can be one of the strongest and most effective tools that an abusive partner has.

How we helped Sara*

Sara* understands just how difficult it can be to leave a relationship when you have lost control of your finances. In the eyes of most people Sara had a great life. She lived in a lovely home with her partner and two young children. She had always been an independent person with a good job and plenty of friends. However, since stopping work to raise children her partner had become very controlling, especially around money. Sara had no income of her own and no access to their joint accounts. She felt increasingly trapped and eventually decided to end the relationship. On hearing from her partner that, as he paid the mortgage, she would have to leave the family home Sara turned to Citizens Advice for help.

We reassured Sara that she had a right to stay with her children in the family home and advised her not to leave the property. We then arranged a solicitor’s appointment so Sara could discuss her options. We told her about a mediation service which could help her and her partner come to a settlement that would work for them both. With the help of a Citizens Advice adviser Sara was also able to think through the options for maximising her income so that she could take care of her family.

Thanks to our help Sara is now able to deal with the ending of her relationship, equipped with the knowledge and support she needs.

*Typical story of a client’s problem, names and events have been altered for confidentiality purposes.

If you live in Waverley and have been affected by domestic abuse of any kind you can contact the South West Surrey Outreach service on 01483 898884. The outreach service offers a free confidential listening service as well as practical support and help with accessing refuge accommodation. In an emergency always dial 999.

Perhaps you are worried about your own abusive behaviour? ‘Stepping Up’ is a help service for anyone who wants to change the way they behave towards their partner. If you live in Surrey you can refer yourself by calling 01622 356477 or by email: SurreyDAinfo@ksscrc.scc.gsi.gov.uk.

If you, or someone you know, is experiencing domestic abuse Citizens Advice Waverley can help.  You can call us on 0344 848 7969 for free, confidential, independent and impartial advice or by visiting www.waverleycab.org.uk or national Citizens Advice on www.citizensadvice.org.uk.

You can help people like Sara get the support they need by making a donation to Citizens Advice Waverley at waverleycab.org.uk/fundraising.  Citizens Advice Waverley is a registered charity.  Your donation stays local and will ensure we are here to help people like Sara when they most need it.

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