Have you been watching Maid on Netflix? If not, you should, for two reasons: 1) It’s brilliant and 2) It’s sparking an important conversation around financial abuse.

Alex, the show’s protagonist, struggles to view herself as a victim of domestic abuse because her ex-partner wasn’t physically violent. As time goes on she realises she has been a victim of emotional and financial abuse - and discovers the long-term impact of these insidious forms of abuse.

The show highlights several warning signs of financial abuse:
- Managing money on your behalf. When Alex forgets to pay a bill, her partner seizes the opportunity to take control of paying all their bills and of their finances generally
- No bank account. When Alex makes the decision to leave her partner she has no access to any money of her own - except $18 in cash.
- Restricting your ability to make money. Alex’s partner refuses to share childcare in a way that would allow her to work. He also gets rid of her car which leaves her stranded at home.
- Having to justify spending. Alex has to explain how much she needs and exactly what the money will be spent on
- Withholding money. Alex’s partner refuses to pay for her mobile phone bill and insists they can share - this limits her contact with the outside world

There are other red flags to watch out for too, that aren’t explicitly covered in the show:
- Offering to manage your money. Asking for control of your savings or assets to “help” you and claiming you’re not good with money is a common tactic
- Racking up debts either jointly or in your name. Being liable for debts can leave people dependent on their abuser and afraid to leave. Also, if they decide to leave you and refuse to pay, you could be held responsible for the entire sum.

The long-term impact of domestic abuse

Domestic abuse can have long-term effects on your emotional, mental, physical, and financial wellbeing. Alex leaves her abuser in the first episode of the show and we follow her as she battles to create a safe life for herself and her daughter - all while battling PTSD and lots of red tape.

Domestic violence and homelessness are interlinked. Victims often end up homeless when they leave as they don't have access to the money needed to find safe accommodation. Domestic abuse caused nearly one in six new homelessness cases in England between April and June this year.

Victims who don’t experience homelessness often still experience financial insecurity as financial abuse can take a serious toll on your credit score, pension, and your ability to get a mortgage.

Mortgages and financial abuse

All financial services businesses have a duty of care towards their customers - and this is something we take very seriously.

If you’re in the process of applying for a mortgage - either jointly or in your sole name - and you think you might be the victim of financial and/or emotional abuse, please let us know.

We can discuss your options privately in a thread completely separate from a partner, so that you can share your concerns and any confidential information regarding the application. We can stop the application or contact the emergency services on your behalf if you need us to.

If you already have a mortgage with an abusive partner and want to leave, again, please find a way to safely let us know about your situation. Abusive relationships undermine the victim’s confidence in their ability to survive on their own, but we can answer your questions, provide accurate information, and review all of your options in a confidential conversation.

If you’ve left an abusive relationship and want to buy a home on your own, we can help you explore your mortgage options and put extra safeguarding measures in place to ensure the perpetrator doesn’t find out.

You can read more about how to handle your mortgage after divorce in this article.


If you recognise any of the warning signs listed above and want to get help - for yourself or someone else - there are resources you can turn to for help:

Refuge have some great information on recognising the signs of abuse. They can advise you on how to help someone you think might be experiencing abuse, and how to access help for yourself.

You can call them on 0808 2000 247 or speak to someone using the live chat service on their website.

If you’re worried for your personal safety call the police on 999. If you can’t speak freely, you can dial 55 on a mobile to make a silent call. If you’re using a landline, they will automatically pass your call on to the police if you don’t speak after 45 seconds.