I moved out when I turned 19. I rented an apartment, packed up my things and left. I was in college full time at a local community college and working full time as security. My plate was full but not too full to date who would become my husband. I took care of my bills by myself even though I had never been taught to run a checkbook by my parents. I wasn’t perfect. I made mistakes. Some of them expensive but I learned and carried on.
My now ex lived at home until he was 23 and then moved in with his brother. In the meantime, my ex never worked a full-time job until he was 24. By that time, I was working as a paralegal full time and had another paralegal job on the side. Once we got married, I supported us while he built his business. At one point, I worked 3 jobs so that he could build his music store and put money back into the business. At some point, he made some bad business decisions and had to borrow money from his parents. I never said a word. It was a part of learning and growing but he still never let me forget my mistake in college even though it had absolutely nothing to do with our life at the time.
Moving forward through the years, I never outlived my financial mistake I made in college. He brought them up every chance he had and he used that mistake to keep me out of financial decisions for our entire marriage. He decided when we would spend money and when we wouldn’t. When my son was a baby, I needed diapers and I got screamed at because I did not give him 3 weeks notice. I was told that he would not buy diapers. I would have to use a washcloth and pin it to him. Later, when 911 hit and stocks crashed, I suggested we get the kids into 529s. He sat with his sister and when I tried to talk about my opinion, it was my idea ,after all, he looked at me and said, “You have proven that you cannot be trusted, you have absolutely nothing to add to this discussion because you are not a part of it. Just sit there and listen.” His sister’s mouth was agape but she never once defended me. For years I did not have a budget for groceries or anything for the house and I had to defend how I was spending the grocery money….what little he gave me at sporadic times. When I had to shop for the kids, I would have to give him how much almost to the penny. He would give me no more and no less than what I asked for. There was no wiggle room when I went shopping alone without him. In our 20 years of marriage, he never once bought me underwear, bras, and the one time I asked for slippers, he told me to put them back. I didn’t need them. My father bought me clothes and later, I would have a job that allowed me to stay home and I kept that money to myself. I paid for my own things, the kids extracurricular activities, their clothes etc. I did this because asking for basic necessities was exhausting and humiliating. It was embarrassing to stand there asking my King for scraps. I hated every minute of it so I took a job and kept my money from him. It drove him crazy that he had no control over it, so much so that he took himself off of the joint checking account and stopped depositing money. Going to the doctor with the kids and getting prescriptions was a nightmare. I had to take my sick kid to his business. Get through the interrogation then go and if they needed a prescription, then I had to call and be interrogated again. However, when I kept receipts for a year and did a spreadsheet of all I did with the money I made, what I bought for the kids and the house, he refused to read it. He didn’t want to validate me and my contribution. And even though he saw those brand new winter coats that the kids needed so badly, he still accused me of squandering money. At one point, he went to my brother in law and sister in law and told them he thought I was gambling. I never gambled. Ever. Then to add to the drama he said maybe she is doing drugs. I have never done an illegal drug in my life. He was spiraling out of control and doing anything he could to build his army.
Financial abuse purposely puts you into a position of dependence, making it hard to break free. His isolating tactics such as trying to prevent me from working or accessing a bank, credit card or putting me on the deed to the house, made me feel worthless. He might as well have had me under lock and key because that is what it felt like and it certainly had the same effect.
The financial abuse continues to this day. He withholds child support at whim to make a point and gain control and payments that he owes me half on for the kids even though he has the money, is never on time or seen. He lavishes the kids but then tells me he is poor and will let them go hungry before he will pay me what he owes me. He doesn’t care. The few times he did care, he fed the kids and not once asked me if I needed anything to eat. He didn’t care. He had tossed me aside. It was okay. I was used to it… but I still had issues wrapping my brain around his treatment of me because I could never treat another human that way.
Leaving is not easy. I’m not going to lie. You need to line things up so that you can protect yourself and waiting in line at social services to try and get help is no fun but once you get past all of that, your life is so incredibly better. You may be struggling but you are not struggling because he is wanting to watch you struggle.
Financial abuse, while less commonly understood, is one of the most powerful methods of keeping a survivor trapped in an abusive relationship and deeply diminishes her ability to stay safe after leaving an abusive relationship. Research indicates that financial abuse is experienced in 98% of abusive relationships and surveys of survivors reflect that concerns over their ability to provide financially for themselves and their children were one of the top reason for staying in or returning to a battering relationship. Have a look at tradersbible.com binary options trading website for more advice on how to manage finance. As with all forms of abuse, it occurs across all socio-economic, educational and racial and ethnic groups. (NNEDV)
I make it work. I gave 110% to my marriage and now I give 110% to feeding and clothing my kids. The difference is I can look at my kids and feel I accomplished something. I could never satisfy the narcissist I was living with.
Empower yourself by being responsible for yourself. It’s hard work but so is your abusive marriage. Start making a plan and then get out! I am so thankful that I finally found the courage to do so. My bumps in my life’s path are now bumps and not boulders placed there by someone else and I can choose to go over, or around, but it is my choice!