Financial abuse is something that we rarely discuss openly since it is often insidious and wrapped up in the confines of what appears to be otherwise, a normal relationship. Very rarely do the women in these relationships speak of the issue because of the shame attached to having to account for every penny spent or even ask for money just to purchase the very basic necessities in life.
So what are the signs and what can be done about it?
Forced Career Choices
Women in financially abusive relationships are often forced to take career paths they would not have chosen on their own. This keeps them from succeeding, eventually becoming financially stable and independent in their own right. Many women in these situations are either stay-at-home moms or if they do work, it is part-time with the permission of their spouse. If the woman is lucky enough to be able to work full-time in such a relationship then her partner often sabotages her career/work life by forcing her to stay home or giving an ultimatum around quitting the job or ending the relationship.
Every Penny Spent Is A Penny Tracked
Every penny, and I mean every penny must be accounted for when given to the woman in this relationship. If it cannot be accounted for then the emotional and even physical abuse ensues and consequences are handed out. This many involve being given less money for basic necessities or being forced to beg for money. The feeling of being trapped in the house with no money for gas, food or transportation is crippling and women in this type of relationship stick to this rule or they know they will suffer the consequences.
No Bank Accounts
No personal bank accounts. No debit card. No savings accounts. No checking account. All money comes from one source. The working partner. This puts the woman in the position of relying on her partner for her very existence, hand to mouth. She is not allowed to have a job and if she does then her checks go to her partner who deposits the money in a separate account out of her control.
Threats Of Leaving
This is one of the most overt forms of financial abuse. Threatening to leave or deny financial support knowing that the woman is unable to support herself without the finances of her partner. Once the partner levies such a threat, control is established since she knows without her partner, her daily needs won't be met. So, she stays in her lane and keeps herself in line fearing that without her partner, she will be destitute with no place to go.
Lazy Bum - Deadbeat - My Woman-Is-My-Momma Syndrome
The men in these relationships control everything financially even though they aren't working, because they take and control all of the money coming into the home. All the household bills are usually in the woman's name and he never pays them, forcing her to work harder while never seeing the fruits of her labor.
In this situation, the woman is essentially pregnant every other year of the relationship, ensuring that she will never have the chance to return to work. Depending on her earning power, with the birth of each child, the cost of childcare makes it impossible to return to work. Her life's work is to care for children and her partner while never knowing what it is like to taste financial freedom and independence. Ultimately, the woman in this relationship is dependent upon her partner for her survival.
What Can Be Done About It?
- Leave. Plan your way slowly or swiftly out of this relationship and leave. Relationships like this can never be trusted to become equitable since so much of it is about power and control.
- Reach out to trusted friends, relatives or even a local church who many be able to house you until you're able to get on your feet.
- If vocational training or education is a barrier to getting a job then start going to school online.
- Skim money from whatever is given to you and save little by little. Every bit adds up. Open a bank account in secret and stash your money until you're ready to leave. Ask friends and family for donations to this account while noting you will pay them back once you are on your feet. Start a blog and learn how to monetize it.
- Get a job in secret. For example you can say that you're volunteering and get a PT job walking dogs or babysitting while he is away or working during the day. Or find a position working from home, online.
- Establish credit. Get a secured card that you keep only at a friend's or family member's house in a locked box. Use it to make purchases while building your credit.
- Research all options with regards to government assistance around food stamps, housing and community-based services. When stepping out for the first time, this may be a temporary option to get you from point A to B while you establish yourself.
Have you ever been in a financially abusive relationship? What tips do you have for women in this situation?