This week we are going to chat on one that some don’t really think about. Economic or financial abuse.
Let’s first talk about what it is.
Economic abuse is a form of abuse when one intimate partner has control over the other partner’s access to economic resources, which diminishes the victim’s capacity to support themselves and forces them to depend on the perpetrator financially.
Some of the most common examples are.
1 Conceals financial information
2. Limits a victim’s access to assets
3 Controls a victim’s ability to
4. Exploits a victim’s resources
5, Dictates how all family funds are
Physical abuse is completely unsafe and dangerous but I also feel like this one is the next one in line. Most domestic violence victims feel trapped to stay in dangerous situations that could escalate because they also do not have the resources to leave.
Their partner controls the finances and often times do so for this exact reason. Some have to ask for money to get food, clothes and basic needs. You rely on the abuser so much for pretty much everything you need as a human to stay alive. The thought of leaving is terrifying because you may not have one single dime when you leave.
Another form is not allowing you to make your own money. Your not allowed to work outside the home or online. Any money you receive has to go to them or in the “house” account that you never get to see. This is particularly hard because you always here advise saying save up and make a plan when you can get out. How can you save if you have no income.
I’ve had stories of survivors reach out that they started saving seriously by taking change from going to get groceries and loose change they find. It’s seriously that small of a start but it’s something.
Another option is if you have access to the internet I had an email from a survivor that she signed up for online surveys that paid to a PayPal account. Slow process but she felt like she was taking the time to build her self at least a little something.
But here is what I do want to say..if you ever feel like you are not safe or it’s escalating to a level it hasn’t before and you need to leave right away please do it. There are shelters and organizers like myself that will do whatever we need to do to keep you safe. No money in the bank will keep you alive if it gets that bad. Just leave if you can as safe as you can and it’s ok to rely on help in the beginning.
My abuser actually left me unannounced and took everything with him. At the time I was 3000 miles away from my closet friend and no means to get back to where I had a soft place to land. He took my furniture and any money we had together and left me with only my clothes.
It’s completely terrifying feeling so helpless and not sure how you will end up but trust me. There are enough people that care about you that will be there no matter what. I realized I had so many people willing to help once it was k own what had happened. A go fund me was set up and within days I had enough to get back to a safe place.
It was humbling to feel the love. People I didn’t even know sent me a little something. I cried with every ding of my phone alerting me. It was like a little hug.
Bottom line is safety first. If you can work out a plan safely then absolutely do so to minimize impact but please no matter what, do not stay because of the lack of stability. This community and the community has got your back.
So my last post was about my 6 years being in an abusive relationship. If you want to see my story you can read it here..
It was pretty hard for me to get that all out but everyone has a story and I wanted mine to be heard. For so long I kept it inside and was scared to ask for help. You get so brainwashed that you feel like no one will believe you or want to help because it’s too messy to get involved.
That day that he left and took pretty much everything I had with him was Day 1 of my recovery. I was sitting on the empty floor with my two dogs and cried for hours. I was so stunned and so used to him controlling every hour of every day I felt lost ,abandoned and had no clue what to do next. My initial thought was I can’t go on without him. Which is totally ironic to think about because everyday I thought about how I could get out of my situation. But now faced with being completely alone I was terrified.
I was in a city that I knew no one and my closet friends were over 1000 miles away. The hard part was I had been lying to EVERYONE I knew for 6 years. Not one person that knew me knew I was going through this. So to make a phone call to my 3 best friends asking for help was going to be hard. I knew they would be there for me but I also knew the bomb I was about to drop on them. Spoiler alert.. They were fantastic, but not without a few “why didn’t you tell me?”
Why didn’t I tell them? That’s the hardest question for me to answer. Why the fuck didn’t I? Bottom line I was embarrassed. The first time he choked me. I wrote it off as a one time thing and I didn’t want to tell because I loved him and they would tell me to leave him. The first time he raped me I didn’t feel comfortable telling someone that for fear of what they would think of me. Days, months, years went on and at that point it was just my normal every day and I was too far in. I would lie through my teeth why I could not go anywhere (because I had bruises around my neck). Sorry I could not go bike riding with the group because I was bleeding still from the rape the night before. I slowly started to withdraw and it became my new normal to lie.
So now that he was gone I had nothing to lie about and the truth was about to be exposed wide open.
I mentioned I had nothing left in the apartment but a few clothes and my two dogs. He even took all the food. He left a $20 on the counter and zero in the bank account. My gas tank was empty and I did not have a job. Panic set in. One of my friends suggested I start a Go Fund Me. Are you FUCKING kidding?!?! was my response. That way the world would know and it was hard enough telling my friends I lied to them over the last 6 years. I cried and said no, then cried some more and in my panic manic crying I said fine and wrote an abbreviated/PC version of my story on the Go Fund Me site and hit publish.
I IMMEADIATLY THREW UP!
I felt so sick putting it out there. I was always the strong one and now I’m the idiot that stayed with a man that hurt me daily. That was my internal dialog. Once I hit publish I was so overwhelmed with sickness and emotion and panic I must have passed out on the bathroom tile by the toilet.
When I woke up I was stiff. Partly from sleeping on the cold hard floor but looking in the mirror I still had the reminders of the life I have been leading. Bruises, bags and puffiness under my eyes from crying and always looking at myself with disgust. It was day 2 of my new life and my outlook was just a bit better than the day before.
When I finally got moving and washed my tear crusted face I saw my phone and all the alerts. LIKE A TON OF THEM. I completely forgot about the Go Fund Me and I burst into tears again. This time tears of love and a sense of feeling like I mattered. With each ding of my phone I saw friends, past co-workers, long lost acquaintances and people I didn’t even know pop up with words of encouragement and strength. They were opening up their wallets for me and it was just almost too much to handle. I felt so guilty but thankful and relived that I would be able to pick myself up and start the long process of figuring out my next chapter.
After a few days and the strength of my besties we put together a plan on how to get me back to the state where they were. I had a few days to wait until the Go Fund Me money would come in and I could get out of the town I felt stuck in.
When I finally closed the door on that condo and shut my car door and saw my puppies ready to go we hit the road. I think I cried the first 100 miles while I was driving back to my safe space. It was a 3 day drive and I remember the first night I stopped to find a hotel. I didn’t sleep most of the night because it was the first time in a long while I’ve been out in the world without him. I had a overwhelming sense of fear something was going to happen to me. Before I only feared him but now I was fearful of the who world.
When I finally made it to my safe place it was a whole other sense of emotions creeping up. I was finally free. He didn’t know where I was exactly but I know he probably knew what state I was going back too and had a pretty good idea where I would be staying but what I did know it was far away from where he took a job and moved two a few days prior.
In the whirlwind of being “free” I had appointments set up with a domestic abuse advocate, apartment showings, and job interviews. I’m not going to lie I was completely overwhelmed. Like crying in a ball on the corner of my friends floor overwhelmed. Having to make decisions was terrifying. My brains first reaction was I need to check with him if this was ok, then that totally pissed me off, then I cried about it. I could go from 0 to meltdown real quick.
My DV advocate was fantastic with listening to my crazy meltdowns and assured me MANY times that it’s going to be an adjustment. I remember when I fist got back into town I need to to go to target to buy basic need type things. I had a meltdown in the shampoo aisle because it was completely overwhelming to make my own choices. Also the sound of a garage door opening would literally bring me to my knees. When I heard the door that meant he was home and my life was going to be difficult. At my friends house I heard the garage door each day and I still had a sense of dread. I still do and to be honest that one is one of the hardest to break free from.
Over the first month I was back I secured employment and found an apartment. The job was great and it really helped me build back my confidence. My apartment..not so much. Think back to where you thought was the worst place you lived. Then think worse than that and that was my new home. It was all I could afford but it was mine. As my new job was building me up I would come home to the reminder that I’m starting from nothing at 40. It was tough those first few months. Thrift store bought everything and sleeping on an air mattress.
I felt I was living a lie again. I was successful at work but falling backwards deep into depression when I would get home. It was a struggle for sure. Therapy for sure helped but I was struggling to be completely honest on what I went through and how I was feeling currently. Reverting back to making sure everything was fine on the outside was easier than being honest.
Those first few months were rough. All the emotions you can feel could happen all within an hour period. You never knw when I trigger will hit and how well you will handle it. I think I mentioned before that please never let anyone tell you how quick or what you should be doing to “get over it”. This February 14th it will be 3 years since that say my world changed. Oh yeah I forgot to mention it was on Valentines day. What a fucker..hahaha. I still have triggers, I still cry and I still have nightmares..but you know what? It’s not everyday anymore and sometimes not even monthly so it does get better. I promise. In the coming weeks I will get in more detail on what I did and how I baby stepped my back back to living the life I deserve.