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Financial abuse, oh yes, it’s real

I'm a little late with the post for today, but better late than never I suppose.  It's been a weird kind of day, with lots of different feelings.  I have felt sad and irritated, frustrated then thrilled; I have been caught up in the excitement of building this website and seeing things move forward (check out the cool slide show on the main page!) but the day sure started out with a bit of a let-down. Financial abuse, oh yes, it's real

Quite a few people have asked if they can donate money towards the up-keep and maintenance of this website, however we have not been able to accommodate that as of yet for a couple of reasons, one of them being that we don't have a bank account. So, mindful that there is a lot of awesome stuff we want to do in the New Year, the three of us went down to a bank this morning to see what we could do about getting an account set up.  ~/ Insert appropriately exaggerated sigh here /~ Nothing like having to talk about your recent bankruptcy to start your day off on the wrong foot.  As it turns out, you can't get an account in a Credit Union if you turn up smelling like rotten eggs on your credit check.

Sadly, I feel like I should be used to this treatment by now.  I have had terrible credit for what seems like forever now.  I have written about it before, so I hope you remember, that I didn't always have terrible credit, in fact there was a time when I had the best credit rating possible.  (OK, I had a little problem with credit debt when I got out of University but that was because I didn't understand cash advances -- what a surprise to find out that it wasn't very wise to do them on a regular basis just because I was too lazy to go to the bank.  Anyways, I digress...) The point I'm trying to make is that I sat in the tiny little office of the junior bank manager and was vividly reminded, once again, that Domestic Violence has yet another angle that some people might not think of:

Financial abuse is all too real.

An abuser uses money to control a partner or a parent or whomever he or she is focused on.  Keeping in mind that power and control are at the centre of abusive relationships, then it isn't too hard to see how this can be played out.  I have heard from many people over the last couple of years about the different forms that financial abuse can take, here are a few:

  • hiding income
  • not allowing a partner to access bank accounts
  • making a partner ask for money and providing only a small, weekly allowance which doesn't cover all the expenses
  • demanding that a partner sign over their paycheck
  • opening bank accounts in foreign currencies that a partner is unaware of
  • lying about the use of money
  • accusing a partner of misspending or poor financial management
  • refusing to give money for necessities, especially for children
  • making a partner think there is no money, then somehow producing it
  • spending money on gambling or other addiction
  • refuse to allow a partner access to banking records/hiding PIN numbers for electronic accounts
  • making expensive purchases despite a partners objections, then blaming a partner for poor financial situation later
  • poor money management; multiple mortgages on home

In my own experience, financial abuse kind of went hand-in-hand with emotional and mental abuse.  The bottom line was that I had less and less idea of what was going on with the family finances, as the debt grew more and more.  This wasn't always the case, as for the first few years of our marriage I felt that we were working together, making mutual financial decisions which somehow just always seemed to backfire.  In the beginning, I would never have thought that there was financial abuse going on and perhaps there wasn't at that point.  However, as time wore on, I found myself with less control over any money; I was shut out of bank accounts and blamed when cheques bounced and there wasn't enough to make ends meet.  I knew things were very wrong, but by then everything was too far gone.  He seemed to find a twisted sense of pleasure when I went to bed in tears because I didn't know how to pay for groceries.  And yet, he always had money for cigarettes and beer... well, you can imagine how bad it was.

I am proud of the growth I've done since that time.  This morning, as I sat in that too-small bank office, after having to divulge my recent bankruptcy, instead of feeling awful and full of self pity, I found myself almost laughing.  "Par for the course" I said, to the manager and he looked at me strangely.  Par for the DV course, I meant.  Yes, it sucks to feel financially destitute and at the mercy of credit institutions, but thanks to the women I've met, I know I didn't get there on my own.  I'm not alone in my suffering, but I'm also not alone in my journey back from the depths.  I hope this website can help you to know that you aren't alone either.  We can find a light for this path together!

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About cjw

A mother of three and a survivor of domestic violence, I am passionate about helping women who feel isolated and alone, women who may have children that are profoundly impacted by the trauma of domestic violence and women who need to understand where they can go to get help for themselves and their families. I am a registered nurse who has worked for the last 16 years in a critical care area only to have to flee to a women's shelter and have my whole life changed. I know fear, I know pain and I now know food banks...I'm in good company.

One Response to Financial abuse, oh yes, it’s real

  1. Jo-Ann December 22, 2012 at 9:03 pm #

    This is so true. My ex spent money but I was on a budget. He had all the boy toys but never spent any money to repair the house or take the kids places. Sad how we let that happen but in my case i did what i had to to survive. Today we aare not rich but we are happier.

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