New legal service tackles insidious abuse

Steven Trask

The Redfern Legal Centre has established a service to combat the "insidious" issue of financial abuse within intimate relationships.

The Financial Abuse Service NSW was launched on Thursday to tackle what it says is a growing problem - particularly for women.

Lawyer Laura Bianchi says financial abuse is an "insidious" form of manipulation.

"Over the past few years we identified the issue through our credit and debt help services," she told AAP.

"We saw a lot of women in particular who had financial issues stemming from a history of domestic violence and we recognised there was a need for this."

Ms Bianchi said men were also vulnerable to financial abuse, especially those in same-sex relationships.

Sandra, whose name has been changed to protect her identity, approached the Redfern Legal Centre after getting financially trapped in a violent relationship.

"Not only was I emotionally and psychologically broken, I was trapped financially by the relationship," she said.

"I was a fly caught in a web and he was the spider expertly manipulating me.

"What the financial abuse service has taught me is that change and empowerment is possible."

The secretary of the federal attorney-general's department, Chris Moraitis, says financial abuse is a "growing but often hidden" problem.

"No one is immune to such abuse and the impact of this form of abuse really can be lasting on a person's livelihood," he told reporters.

"Clearly services such as this are important ways of empowering people, particularly women, to take control of their lives again."

The Financial Abuse Service NSW - which will provide free legal support - is being supported by the federal government and corporate partners.

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