Did you know that 1 in 4 women in the United States is being financially abused right now? That’s 25% of American women who are currently from suffering financial abuse. This must stop!! We have come too far in the evolution of women and our rights for this to be allowed to continue. Suze Orman implores the women who are not being financially abused, the other 75% of women, to take a stand. Read on to hear my story and to better understand what financial abuse actually looks like.
My abusers greatest source of power and control over me was, and still is, financial control. Once we reached the point in our relationship where we decided to have a child together we had a verbal agreement that we were married. The conversations were always that “we just hadn’t thrown the party yet” and that “when $27,000 is a drop in the bucket, we’ll throw the party”. In 2015, he became a partner in his law firm. Of course, we celebrated and then every year after that he would ask for my help in his negotiations to increase his percentage of ownership. I was always more than happy to help and he would in fact, increase his percentage of ownership each year. When we separated in 2019, the first thing he did was claim that he had never been a partner, but that he had only ever been an employee. Since this was a family run firm, it was easy for them to hide any paperwork which would prove otherwise. As soon as this happened I could see that there would be nothing but lies for the rest of the case. And I was absolutely right. The man who abused me told me that when he became a partner they had mutually agreed to keep it off the books so he wouldn’t have to pay taxes as a partner.
Financial Abuse Is a Form of Domestic Abuse
When you fill out your financial statements for the family court proceedings it specifically asks if you participate in profit sharing with your company. Since his monthly “bonuses” were commensurate with the performance of the firm on any given month, and he’s saying he is only an employee and not a partner, this box should have been checked “yes”. He checked it “no”. Remember how he lied and said his undergrad degree was a triple major in math, finance, and accounting? You would think someone with that much training in finance and accounting would understand the definition of profit sharing. But even with his degree actually being a business degree, he should know the definition of profit sharing. So, if he’s just an average employee with no ownership and no profit sharing then where are these huge monthly bonuses coming from?
Lies such as these are what financial abuse looks like
During the relationship he would keep track of our money (including my monthly contributions to the joint account) on his computer which I never had a password to. When it was convenient for him, and at no other time, he would sit down and go through the finances. Afterwards, usually on another day, he would sit down with me to show me where we stood financially. I was allowed no real voice in any decisions such as a decision he made to refinance the house.
He always talked about how we needed to stick to a budget but it felt as though he had some arbitrary moving target budget that I was supposed to just know. Again, I was never granted access to the spreadsheets so I could watch and pay attention, I had no way of knowing how we were doing with this “budget” throughout the month. And my punishment for not sticking to this arbitrary budget was the silent treatment.
He used an excel spreadsheet to keep track of the money and he separated us in the spreadsheet so he could track every penny I ever spent. My column was marked with my name but his column was unmarked. It was as if he was tracking me but not himself.
Financial abuse through student loans
Another piece of the financial abuse I suffered was that he always made it more important to pay off his debt first. There was a time when I decided to go back to school. At that time we could have easily afforded to pay cash for my classes but he insisted I take out student loans so we could pay off the house more quickly. I contributed to the mortgage each and every month, while taking out student loans, because we always had a verbal agreement that we owned the house 50/50. Once the mortgage was paid off he took the money that was going to that and began putting it toward his zero interest student loans.
As I’ve mentioned before, having a child together was a decision. We talked about it, planned it, and made the choice. However, when I got pregnant he refused to add me to his health insurance plan. He insisted that I remain on Medicaid so he wouldn’t have to pay for it. His father told him that Medicaid may come after him for this someday.
Financial Abuse and Narcissism
Since I believed that he had a degree in finance I trusted him to take good care of the money for us. But other than paying off debt he didn’t seem to make very savvy money decisions at all.
At one point he decided to sell some stocks that he owned to pay down the mortgage. Later, he blamed me for his choice to sell the stocks when I hadn’t even been consulted with before he sold them. It was 100% his decision.
This is what financial abuse looks like
Financial abuse is about making you dependent on them so they feel as though they have more control over you. Money is power and an abuser will exploit power in any way they can. It made the man who abused me feel powerful to know that he was the one in control of the financial tracking. I had tracked my finances before getting into a relationship with him but once we were together and combined our accounts, I thought he was the better money manager so I took a hands off approach.
We paid off the mortgage on the home together and always had a verbal agreement between us that we owned the home 50/50 but because I trusted him I never insisted that my name go on the deed. When we separated he claimed that the house belonged to him and that I had no ownership interest in it whatsoever. This is so extreme and ridiculous that anyone who was watching this situation unfold should have been able to see that this was simply too extreme and that only an abuser would be capable of doing this.
What I would figure out later was that part of his reasoning for wanting to keep the house 100% in his name was so that he would be able to have free access to the house whenever he wanted. The first time he covertly entered, on May 26, the police told me they couldn’t do anything about him coming in because he owned the house so it wasn’t breaking and entering. And so began the stalking…
The financial abuse is societal
When the stalking didn’t stop and I was ready to stand up to him by calling the police and getting protective orders, I was told by several people to “be careful because you might lose child support”. To me, staying quiet about such extreme abuse just to continue collecting child support was no different from selling my soul. I was getting out from his abuse and people were telling me to allow him to continue stalking and abusing me just so he would have to keep sending me money.
What Is Financial Abuse?
- Financial abuse is withholding information about money from you
- Financial abuse is using your money to pay off their debts
- Financial abuse is using your money to their advantage
- Financial abuse is leaving you with nothing when the relationship ends
- Financial abuse is blaming you for their poor decisions
- Financial abuse is using money as a way to overpower you
- Financial abuse is withholding money from you unless you comply with their demands
- Financial abuse is making you ask for money
- Financial abuse, like every other type of abuse, is about power.