Banking staff trained to spot signs of financial abuse
Banking staff across the country are trained to spot signs of financial abuse and coercive control.
The move follows research that found more than 20% of women between the ages of 18 and 34 don’t have control over their finances.
The Irish Banking and Payments Federation says young women are also struggling to collect money owed to them.
BPFI member banks AIB, Bank of Ireland, KBC Bank, Ulster Bank and Permanent TSB have published the BPFI Principles on Financial Abuse to assist customers who may be subject to coercive control.
Women’s Aid training aims to help staff recognize clients at risk of financial abuse and coercive control.
According to a study conducted by Amárach on behalf of the BPFI, 22% of women between the ages of 18 and 34 do not have control over their financial affairs.
This is double the proportion for all respondents.
41% of women under 35 say they have difficulty managing their money, compared to 29% overall.
36% of young women said it was difficult for them to collect money owed to them, compared to 23% overall.
Almost a third (31%) of young women said they had relied on help from other people and almost half of them were receiving help at the time of the survey.
This compares to 21% and 25% for all respondents respectively.
Not all customers who say they feel in control of their money are subject to coercive control, the Banking and Payments Federation said. However, he said some customers, both male and female, are likely to experience it.
Financial abuse happens within close relationships and can occur at any age, regardless of wealth or status, according to Louise O’Mahony, BPFI’s communications manager.
“Perpetrators may be partners, family members, or people on whom clients depend for support and the perpetrator may use the client’s money in a way that limits the client’s future actions and plans; they may find themselves without money for basic necessities such as food and clothing for themselves or their children.
“They may have no access to their own payment accounts and no independent source of income. Through the development of these principles, we hope to support clients who find it difficult to maintain control of their own money due to violence domestic and coercive control.”
Women’s Aid said it hears hundreds of disclosures of financial abuse each year from women experiencing domestic violence from a partner or ex-partner.
The organization said financial abuse is central to domestic violence, including coercive control.
Its CEO said abusers use money as a way to control and isolate their partners as well as gain power and dominance to isolate someone in a state of complete financial dependence.
According to Sarah Benson, controlling abusers’ access to financial resources ensures that their partners are forced to choose between remaining in an abusive relationship and facing poverty and financial hardship.
“By implementing these principles of responding to and supporting victims of financial abuse, banks can increase awareness of this form of abuse among their staff and better support their customers who are victims of it. This may, in time, help to increase the financial security of victims to the level at which they may feel completely isolated and alone.”
The BPFI says customers should contact their bank if they have any concerns and dedicated individual appointments can be made where customers can speak in confidence.
Further information for those seeking assistance is available at saveyourmoney.ie