I can remember coming home from the grocery store, and as soon as I walked in the house, I would hear the following statements. What took you so long? Where is the receipt? My husband at the time would proceed to look over the receipt and verify that what I bought matched what was spent. According to him, I could not “handle” money, I was “irresponsible,” and did not understand the “concept” of a budget. This would happen for several weeks at a time, then he would quit checking. However, he always went back to it, because that was one of his ways of controlling me.
I worked for him at his office but was never paid. I would work over 40 hours a week and he would work 32 hours a week. He would say that his paycheck was for both of us when it was only for him. Whatever was left after bills, mortgage and groceries went to him. He golfed and fished, spending lots of money on golf clubs, green fees, and boats. However, when money was short, it was my fault. And did I pay the price! My name was not on the bank accounts or mortgage. He would “allow” me to use his debit card. He would go through my wallet. And he constantly told me how terrible I was with money and that I must have something wrong with me.
At the time, I did not know that what I was experiencing was financial abuse in addition to the other kinds of abuse in the marriage. Because of my financial situation, it kept me in the marriage for far too long. I felt that I had nothing, no money, and no confidence.
When I decided to leave, I started working on my credit score. The first thing I did was get a credit card in my name and sent the statements to my email. He sold the business and the new owners kept me on to work, so I was finally getting paid! He joined the military, went away for training and I felt like I was on vacation. I had not enjoyed my life in such a long time. And you know what? I got along just fine. I took care of my daughters and paid the bills. I continued to work on my credit score and put some money together.
I had an idea of when I wanted to file for divorce, but all of that accelerated when he took my social security number and ran my credit report without my consent. He saw that I had 2 credit cards in my name, and he was furious. He called and began to yell at me, again saying I was irresponsible. I said we are done here; I am filing for divorce. I never looked back. Taking that first step is very scary. But I can make good financial decisions! I am responsible! I can follow a budget! Abusers want you to feel small and worthless. But you can take control, you can change your life! The abuser does not define who you are, only you can do that.
I am still changing my life. I am a senior at IUS. Over the last 4 years I have completed associate degrees in Accounting and Business Administration. I have taught my daughters about saving money, making good financial decisions, and preparing for their futures. And when I bought my own house with my own credit, I cried the happiest tears ever!!