When we talk about intimate partner violence, and even toxic family relationships, we talk about physical and emotional abuse.
Often, the financial and economic aspects of this abuse is given as a side note, if at all. Yet, it is finances that often keep us tied to partners and family whom we’d otherwise like to leave.
Financial and economic abuse is fundamentally about “Control the money, control the person.”
Financial abuse can appear obvious, like preventing access to credit and bank accounts or even withholding money needed for essentials like food or gas for the family.
However, preventing partners from engaging in employment, education, or opportunities for advancement that might lead to improved financial independence is a more insidious part of economic abuse.
Financial abuse can also look like a partner gambling away financial resources need for the family. It can look like subtle sabotage or failure to provide meaningfully for the family based on prior agreements.
The domino affect of financial abuse can impact lifetime earnings, savings, and future financial stability.
Finally, even if we leave, years of ongoing abuse can still occur, sustaining financial struggle, stress, mental health impacts, and health.
If this is happening, or has happened to you, you are not alone. Don’t let shame keep you from seeking help and resources.
Abusers seek to isolate their partners. If isolation is the key to abuse, community is the key to recovery.
First, if you can, find a good therapist to help you heal from the trauma and make a path to recovery.
Second, reach out to resources who can help you. Remember to see the situation holistically and know that you deserve holistic support (medical, financial, housing, childcare, job assistance, emotional, etc.).
Third, use your social media in positive ways to help your recovery. Make sure you are following creators who support your empowerment and have real solutions to share. Find online communities that are safe and well-moderated where you can get support and inspiration any time of day or night.
Fourth, don’t think that just because you don’t know a solution that means that there isn’t one. Start where you are and just begin. You can do this. It may be really hard, but you’ve done really hard. With help, you CAN do this.
Financial Wellness Tip:
For these reasons, and more, I encourage women to go into relationships with our financial eyes open.
We can always “hope for the best, but plan for the worst.” Even in the healthiest of relationships, we can wisely prepare for a time when we may find ourselves needing to rely on ourselves.