I am a survivor of abuse in my relationship. When you hear these words, what is the first thing that comes to mind? Physical abuse, sexual abuse, substance abuse, mental or emotional abuse? But did you think of financial abuse?
Sadly, I have been physically, sexually, mentally, emotionally and financially abused. You may be surprised or not but the question is, “How the heck am I still here today?” My answer is only God knows. I am a survivor of abuse in my relationship only by the grace of God!
No one wants to be in an abusive relationship, it just happens. Abuse in relationships comes in many forms as I have mentioned above. I am going to highlight the very common but less mentioned types of abuse in relationships and marriages.
This type of abuse is devious and it comes at you like a thief in the night. You cannot tell at first or even identify with it because there is no physical anything. It is purely psychological. So what exactly is it?
According to crisistextline.org, emotional abuse is consistent actions and behaviors intended to psychologically manipulate someone else. For example making someone relive shame or guilt over and over again. Verbal aggression, intimidation, manipulation and humiliation are other examples.
It took me years to recognize that emotional abuse existed in my previous marriage. I poured my heart out in that marriage, was so vulnerable. Shared everything I was ashamed of, things I regretted, even buried secrets.
Having to relive shame and guilt can be the death of you. Especially when the person you love attacks you with your past for their personal gain. Whether it is to hold you hostage in the marriage or otherwise. I stayed in that unhealthy marriage for many years because I made a vow and couldn’t imagine failing at it.
Mental abuse is highly destructive as physical abuse. Yet, it doesn’t receive that much attention. As mentioned at livestrong.com this type abuse in marriage is most likely to occur when your spouse is in a position to dominate you. In some cases this dominance occurs when you are financially dependent on your spouse.
In other cases the dominance is physical; even when the abuse is purely psychological, physical intimidation is a form of mental abuse even when actual physical violence does not occur. Which leads me to financial abuse.
Although financial dependence was never in my vocabulary, it became apart of my life. The decision to escape sexual assault in the workplace and pursue a college degree in the United States, led me right into another abuse. As an international F-1 student in the country, you are placed on work restrictions while you study. This automatically made me 100% financially dependent on my former husband. My mother didn’t have the financial means to provide as she would have loved to but I did get some support from her and family members.
Which leads me to the next form of abuse that needs to be discussed in families, communities, churches and schools.
It is normal for couples to have occasional disagreements about money. However, if your partner is controlling about spending, discourages you from earning more money, or has begun controlling all the income in your relationship, then it may be a sign of financial abuse.
Financial abuse is the prevention of victims to acquire, use or maintain financial resources according to Purple Purse. Financial abuse includes limiting or preventing the spouse from having their own money, jeopardizing the spouse’s ability to further their education, hold a job, sabotaging the spouse’s credit by deliberately running up debt in the spouse’s name, and forcing the victim to use money she is trying to save.
This didn’t happen over night for me. I actually had a financially supportive fiance. He paid all my bills, while we dated and into our marriage. Gave me allowances multiple times a month with with no complaints. But things changed the moment we started living together. I made discoveries of hidden transactions then he turned around and demanded an account of all my spending. I had to show receipts and account transactions. You would think I was a spend-a-holic but the transactions never failed to highlight him acquiring too much outside expenses. After all that behavior, to hear him publicly announce that I am the one who is in charge of the money and I am the finance manager had me dying inside. But all I did was smile to avoid any conflicts.
In addition, when I completed graduate school and it was time to pursue my occupational professional training (OPT) things escalated. The jobs I applied to or interviewed for never proved up to his standard. Repeated words to belittle my confidence and steer me from going on interviews worked to his success.
Some common ways that financial abuse occurs according to womenshealth.gov are below:
- Refusing to give you access to bank accounts and hiding or keeping assets from you
- Constantly questioning purchases you make and demanding to see receipts
- Making financial decisions without consulting you
- Not paying child support so you can’t afford rent, food, and other needed items
- Forcing you to open lines of credit
- Urging you to or demanding that you quit your job or preventing you from working
- Stalking or harassing you at work
- Giving you a set amount of money to spend and no more
- Stealing your identity or filing fraudulent tax returns with your name attached to them
- Selling property that was yours
- Filing false insurance claims with your name on them
Here are some ways to prevent financial abuse while you are still in the relationship:
- Gather and safely store important documents outside the home
- Find a trustworthy family, friend, or professional to help you make an action plan
- Research programs in your area that help with abuse victims
- Do not co-sign a loan or any financial contract
- Remove name from joint bank or credit cards accounts
- Research your state’s law on protective and restraining orders
- Save up your exit money
Here are some ways to prevent financial abuse after you left the relationship:
- Remove names from all utility bills
- Get a free credit report
- Request credit bureau to issue fraud alert and protect your credit
- Talk to a financial expert to help you repair your credit
Again, I am a survivor of abuse in my relationship only by the grace of God. No weapon was able to bring harm to me. I am blessed and highly favored. I express gratitude to my current husband. He was able to look beyond my baggage and brokenness and foresee a blessed future with me. We too have financial disagreements but we always try to communicate our issues with each other.
Presently, I’m on my journey to financial independence as an Independent Finance Consultant. Contributing to my family’s financial success is one of my goals while on this journey. In addition, to teaching my daughters the importance of being financially independent. I would love to do this not only through words but to lead by example. Modeling to my girls teamwork in relationships, unity and creating generational wealth.
Looking back, I can say that I’m very thankful for my experiences. Abuse didn’t define me instead, it helped to shape me into the woman I am today. These experiences have allowed me to engage with other moms who are going through similar events and inspire them through my journey.
If you are struggling to make ends meet, have issues with low credit and need to get out of debt – Don’t Stay Stuck! I have resources available to help you become debt free. Head on over to my instagram page @consultwithr.ox.i and share it with a friend in need.
You are not alone. I am a survivor of abuse in my relationship and you can be too. You have a support group here with me and at Mommination!