Financial abuse in romantic relationships is one of the most common forms of abuse that affects women and can lead to long-term financial hardship. It can leave survivors feeling powerless and unable to access the resources they need to rebuild their lives. But if you proactively reach out for support and are resilient recovering from financial abuse is possible.
According to the National Network to End Domestic Violence, Financial Abuse occurs in 98% of all abusive relationships. Financial abuse is cited as the most common reason why victims remain in abusive relationships for as long as they do.
Victims of financial abuse find it very difficult to navigate the basic financial areas of their lives after being financially abused. Narcissistic abuse includes financial abuse as a narcissist uses access to finances as a way of controlling their victims.
I would like to add, that this journey to financial freedom and rebuilding yourself after financial abuse is not easy and it does take courage and endurance. But my wish for you is that you will never give up and that you find the faith and belief in yourself to give it your all. With resilience as your foundation cornerstone, I know that you will succeed and achieve financial freedom.
With the right plan and support, financial recovery after experiencing a financially abusive relationship is possible. This 7-step guide will provide practical tips and advice on how to take back control of your finances and make a fresh start after recovering from financial abuse.
From understanding your financial rights to budgeting and creating a plan to reach your financial goals, this guide will offer the resources and support needed to break free from the cycle of abuse and financial insecurity.
Begin your journey to financial recovery and freedom today.
Steps to Recovering from Financial abuse
Understanding your financial rights
Financial abuse often begins when an abuser tries to gain control over their partner’s financial affairs. It can occur at any stage of a relationship, regardless of how long you’ve been together, your age, employment status, or level of income.
This can include refusing to let you work, forcing you to hand over your paycheck, or taking out loans in your name without your knowledge. Financial abuse can also extend beyond control of your finances including the misuse of your credit, assets, or property. It can even involve forced inheritance, signing a power of attorney, or being cut off financially if you decide to leave the relationship.
This information may sound overwhelming to you right now if you have recently left an abusive partner. This can have a long-term impact on your overall financial security and sustainability, making it difficult to cover basic expenses such as rent, utilities, groceries, childcare, and transportation.
Your basic financial rights include:
- Having access to your own bank accounts. You do not need to have joint accounts especially as this opens you up to being a victim of financial abuse.
- Child support for basic necessities and health care must be paid. A family law attorney can assist with the advice of the laws in the area where you reside.
- Your credit and personal information are confidential unless you give permission for it to be used.
- Banks need to get your consent before transacting on your accounts and investments.
- Financial institutions are required to keep your financial information private, including your bank statements.
- Access to a free credit report so that you fully understand the current state of your financial problems and possible financial losses due to various forms of financial abuse. A free credit report is available from the Federal Trade Commission and can be requested online.
If your credit report shows financial activity that you do not recognize you will be able to report this to any major credit bureaus and they will proceed with an investigation. Should you wish to make it more difficult for someone to open accounts in your name you could request that the credit bureau issue fraud alerts in your name.
Other useful information
According to the U.S. Department of Health, Office on Women’s Health, many states have laws that allow you to take time off work to attend court for violence and abuse issues. There are also laws that protect you against discrimination on the job if you have experienced domestic violence or sexual abuse.
Free financial education and advice about dealing with debt, a mortgage, or credit issues are available from the nonprofit National Foundation for Credit Counseling. An expert from this nonprofit will be able to assist you with rebuilding your credit and finances.
This information may sound overwhelming to you right now if you have recently left an abusive partner and are recovering from financial abuse, but with time and the support of a trusted friend and family member, you will gain the confidence to be once again in control of your own personal finances.
Overcoming feelings of financial insecurity
Financial abuse often leaves survivors feeling helpless and overwhelmed when it comes to finances.
According to Shannon Thomas, a licensed clinical social worker, and certified clinical trauma professional, the effects of financial abuse last longer than other forms of abuse and will undermine your ability to navigate everyday life.
It is then understandable that you may lack confidence when it comes to making decisions that are in your best interest, such as choosing a financial professional, filling out forms, or even using an ATM. Have patience with yourself, things will get better, I promise.
Due to the effects of financial abuse, you may have been afraid to talk about your finances or you may have become more financially insecure. Understand that you have the right to understand your finances and make informed decisions about your money.
Remember, you don’t have to be an expert, and there is no shame in having someone else review your finances or provide you with support while you build your confidence. You also have the right to take your time and make financial decisions that are best for you and your family’s finances.
Budgeting and creating a financial plan
A budget is more than just a financial plan for how you’ll spend your money. It can be a powerful tool for regaining control over your finances and can help you break free from the cycle of abuse.
A budget can help you keep track of your expenses, set goals for savings and debt repayment, and give you a better understanding of your overall financial health.
Breaking down your finances and setting targets in detail can help you see areas you may need to cut back on to make ends meet.
It may be a good idea to find areas you can cut back or reduce expenses to help with the repayment of credit card debt or put money back into a savings account for your future.
Budgeting doesn’t have to be intimidating or feel impossible. There are many free tools available online, that can help you create a budget you can follow.
Re-establishing your financial independence
Abuse often causes survivors to become financially dependent on their abuser. This can make it difficult to leave the relationship and regain financial independence.
If you choose to leave the relationship, you may need to find ways to support yourself financially. This can be challenging, especially if you’ve experienced abuse and may not have the skills or resources to find a job.
It may feel impossible to break free from financial dependence and regain your financial independence, but there are organizations and services that can help.
Your local domestic violence agency can provide you with resources and support to help you re-establish financial independence and find a job. They can help you develop a plan to achieve your goals and meet your financial needs.
Financial recovery may take a long time but as long as you are moving forward one step at a time, you are doing well.
Securing a job and income
If you’ve decided to leave an abusive relationship, securing employment is essential to gain financial independence and meet your financial needs. Financial abusers often do not pay child support and continue to abuse you from a distance.
It is best to aim at being financially independent so that you do not rely on an abusive partner for money.
It can be challenging to find work if do not have the skills to find a job. Your local domestic violence agency can help you navigate the process of finding employment and can assist you with finding a job. They can also help you with things like securing identification, transportation, or childcare while you look for work. In addition to helping with everyday tasks, these agencies can also help you build a strong resume that highlights your skills and experience.
You may also be interested in developing your online skill set so that you are able to earn money online.
Turn a Hobby into a Side Hustle
According to Financial Independence Hub, post the pandemic, 40% of Americans now have side hustles and this figure is growing. Many people have turned their hobbies like painting, crocheting, or pottery into a side hustle. As a survivor of abuse, it would be a great idea to consider turning your hobby into a side hustle so that you are able to make extra monthly income.
Side hustles may not necessarily need to evolve from your hobby. Consider making a list of all the things that you are able to do, ranging from online services to offering to do people’s laundry or purchasing their groceries. Online side hustles may not initially make much money, but if you are providing a service that is helpful to others your side hustle will grow with dedicated time and effort.
Accessing support and resources
Financial abuse can be isolating, leaving you feeling alone and unsure where to start on the path to financial recovery. While finding a job or managing your finances you may feel overwhelmed, there are services and resources that can help.
Your local domestic violence agency can provide you with financial counseling and support to help you break free from financial abuse. You can also connect with other survivors of financial abuse through online support groups and forums like the Financial Abuse Survivors Network to share your experience and learn from others who’ve been there.
The charity Surviving Economic Abuse is based in the UK and was started by Dr. Nicola Sharp-Jeffs after her 2016 Winston Churchill Fellowship to Australia and the United States to learn about the innovative and best practices of responding to financial abuse. Surviving Economic Abuse supports and assists survivors of financial exploitation.
Financial abuse is a serious issue, but it is possible to break free from financial insecurity and regain control of your finances.
Remember, you are not alone and there are resources to help you take back control of your finances. There is hope for financial recovery after experiencing abuse and you can create a brighter financial future for yourself.
Should you at any stage feel unsafe or you are being threatened by your ex-abusive partner, you should call the National Domestic Violence Hotline for assistance and support.
The results of financial abuse are devastating and can be long-lasting. But there are many organizations that can offer you assistance and support and making use of these will be helpful.
Your focus should be on you and how you should best navigate the present and build for the future. Leave the past behind you, learn from the lessons but do not waste your energy and precious time on the past. Self-care is important so that you are in a position to take on the recovering from financial abuse phase..
Life may be currently tough, but you will get through it. Comment below should you need support.