Financial abuse – take action

Find out how to recognise financial abuse and the steps you can take if you or someone you know is experiencing it.

6 minute read

Financial abuse

Financial abuse is a form of family and domestic violence that occurs when an abuser uses money and resources to gain control of their partner or family member. It can be a hidden epidemic that occurs in the community through a lack of awareness and understanding, often because it's harder to recognise than other forms of abuse.

Financial abuse can be influenced by factors such as culture, disability, addiction, mental illness and bereavement, amongst other things. It's important to understand what it looks like, so that you can take action and get support.

Abuse in transaction descriptions

This is a form of financial abuse in which someone is sent transactions with threatening or harmful descriptions.

Abusive descriptions could include:

  • Abusive, degrading or hateful language
  • Threats of physical violence to the self or to the recipient
  • Repeated, unwanted requests and/or comments.

Key statistics

You can find out more on the attitudes and experiences of financial abuse in WA in our Bankwest Hidden Costs Report 2023 (PDF).

One third

of West Australian adults have experienced or know someone who has experienced financial abuse.

Four in five

West Australians agree that financial abuse is a widespread problem in Australia.

More than one in seven

West Australians admit to having been a perpetrator of financial abuse.

Identifying and addressing financial abuse

Because financial abuse can be difficult to recognise, it’s important to learn the signs, know where to go for help, and understand how to support someone who may be at risk. This can help people recover and regain their financial independence.

Our Addressing Financial Abuse Guide (PDF) is designed to help people recognise financial abuse and provide support options. It may also help you to have a conversation with someone you think might be in a financially abusive relationship.

What it looks like

Signs of financial abuse from your partner or someone close to you include:

  • Preventing you from working
  • Monitoring how you spend your money
  • Controlling how the household income is spent
  • Forcing you to take out a loan or credit in your name.

Numbers to know

  • 000 – in case of an emergency or if you’re not feeling safe
  • 1800 737 732 – for confidential information, counselling and support from a free service that isn't affiliated with Bankwest or CBA. You can also visit the 1800RESPECT website
  • 1300 766 491 – if you’re worried about your behaviour, this is a free and confidential service. Alternatively, you can chat online at

Recognise and Recover Guide

This guide is designed to support those currently in a financially abusive relationship, or who were previously in one and are becoming financially independent. The guide can also help you to have a conversation with someone you think might be in a financially abusive relationship.

16 Days in WA

The 16 Days in WA campaign is an annual initiative of the WA State Government that runs from 25 November (International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women) through to 10 December (Human Rights Day) every year.

The campaign takes its inspiration from the global 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence to drive a change in culture, behaviour and attitudes that lead to violence against women and their children.

For 16 days, the WA community is invited to create change during the campaign – to educate, motivate and advocate in your community, and stand up to stop violence against women.

We’re committed to being there for our customers when they need us most, which is why we've supported the campaign since inception. Each year, we accompany our partnership of the 16 Days campaign with a range of customer, community, and colleague initiatives to help educate, inform and provide support on this critical social issue.

16 Days in WA - Stop violence against women campaign image

Support for our customers

If you’re a Bankwest customer experiencing financial abuse, we’re here for you 24/7 – just call us on 13 17 19.

  • When you contact us, we'll ask you some questions to assess your needs and help you safely manage your finances
  • If you have any lending products with us and are experiencing financial hardship as a result of your situation, you may be referred for ongoing specialised support
  • You may be referred to external, independent services, if appropriate.

Good Shepherd Financial Independence Hub

The Financial Independence Hub, which is supported by the CBA Group, is a free, confidential, personalised service supporting people impacted by domestic violence and financial abuse across Australia to build their financial independence and achieve their goals.

WA support services directory

The Centre for Women’s Safety and Wellbeing (CWSW) works to prevent domestic, family and sexual violence against women and their children, promote women’s health and wellbeing, and advance gender equity.

The Centre has launched a service directory that features all the specialised family and domestic violence services that can be found throughout Western Australia.

Your Toolkit Support Hub

Your Toolkit is a website that helps women who have experienced domestic and family violence. It provides links and telephone numbers to key organisations, and things to consider when someone is facing challenging situations. The website has been built in consultation with women who have experienced domestic and family violence, support workers and industry professionals who understand the needs of women and families experiencing abuse.

Family and domestic violence assistance

Family violence can affect anyone, regardless of sex, age, race, sexuality, disability, gender and lifestyle. If you are experiencing violence, support is available. If you are concerned about your behaviour and want support, call Men’s Referral Service on 1300 766 491 or chat online at

In an emergency or if you’re not feeling safe, always call 000.

Get in touch with 1800RESPECT for confidential information, counselling and support.

This is a free and confidential service which isn't part of Bankwest or the CBA Group. You can also ask for an interpreter or translator if you need one.

About this article

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