One third of young women single parents report experiencing economic abuse

25 March 2021

A new report released from Young Women’s Trust and Surviving Economic Abuse found that 1 in 10 young women, and one third of single mums aged 18 to 30 reported experiencing forms of economic abuse. The report combined a survey of 2000 young women with data from applications to Young Women’s Trust Emergency Fund from young women experiencing economic abuse.  

As many as 22% of young disabled women said they had been deprived of basic needs (for example food, shelter, sleep and assistive aids) by a partner or family member. Experiences of abuse are often under reported in surveys as young women may not want to disclose this or may not recognise their experiences as abuse. Despite this, the forms of economic abuse young women reported included a partner or family member using control, threats or violence to influence their choice of education training and employment (14%), stop them studying (11%), stop them having a job or earning money (9%), or to take their benefits, wages, or money for essential items like food (7%).  

This was significantly higher for young women on the lowest or no pay, young black and mixed-ethnicity women, and young disabled women, rising to almost a quarter on some forms of abuse.  

The group of young women that most commonly reported experiencing economic abuse were young women with children, and specifically young single parents at around 30% on all forms of economic abuse from a former partner.  

Esther Sample, Research Lead at Young Women’s Trust said:  

It is disturbing that so many young women are being affected by economic abuse. More support is needed for young women at risk of or experiencing economic abuse, we are calling for an accessible national support service for young women experiencing economic abuse. There needs to be widespread awareness raising work in schools and colleges on economic abuse so that more young people know about this form of abuse. The work of specialist organisations such as Surviving Economic Abuse (SEA) to train professionals such as employers, those working in job centres, banks, schools and colleges is crucial to identify young women experiencing economic abuseIn addition, more research is needed on the prevalence and types of economic abuse young women experience, to enable us to tackle this vital but underreported issue.” 

Dr Nicola Sharp-Jeffs, Founder & CEO at Surviving Economic Abuse (SEA) said: 

“We know that the measures taken to respond to Covid-19 have increased the isolation of victim-survivors and created economic insecurity. Abusers have taken advantage of opportunities to take economic control, including through sabotaging young women’s education and employment, taking control of benefits and non-payment of child maintenance. The conducive context created by the pandemic sits within existing structural inequality and is compounding it. Innovative responses such as YWT’s grant scheme are meeting women and girls’ immediate safety needs. SEA is also calling for economic safety to be at the heart of responding to violence against women and girls.” 

A young woman interviewed for the report said: 

“We are constantly arguing about money because he’s obviously bringing all the money and I’m not getting anything in. [On a joint claim now for universal credit, getting less] – I don’t get any help for my council taxes which I find is wrong because they should help both people.”

Read the report 

Note to editors

  • A new report from Young Women’s Trust and Surviving Economic Abuse has found that 1 in 10 young women, and one third of single mums aged 18 to 30 reported experiencing forms of economic abuse. The report, draws on findings from a survey of 2,000 young women aged 18-30 alongside analysis of applications to Young Women’s Trust Emergency Fund.