Raising awareness of the scale of financial abuse in Ireland
As part of AIB’s Group Advocacy initiative, which seeks to support vulnerable customers, it was discovered that 1 in 10 Irish women have been financially abused by their partners at some time. In conjunction with Women’s Aid, a domestic abuse charity, AIB identified a lack of public awareness and understanding of financial abuse as a serious barrier to women seeking help to escape abusive relationships.
Because financial abuse is a little understood experience, we wanted to give people a sense of the realities faced on a daily basis by victims. So we decided to put people in the shoes of a financial abuse victim, albeit in a safe and controlled way. We would take the most convenient interaction people have with money – withdrawing it from an ATM – and completely subvert that experience.
The Abusive Teller Machine was reprogrammed to behave like a controlling, abusive partner: asking a series of intrusive questions before ultimately refusing to release their cash. The reason behind the interaction was revealed and customers were directed to learn the different forms of financial abuse and seek support through Women’s Aid if they, or someone they knew, were suffering financial abuse.
A film of the activation was released, sparking conversations across the country, as members of the public came forward to relate their own stories of surviving financial abuse. A hidden epidemic became a topic of long-overdue national conversation. Meanwhile, women who had been suffering in silence now knew where to turn in taking the first step from being a victim to becoming a survivor.