My name is Amy, and I am a 38 year-old survivor of domestic violence. If you were to look at me on paper at the woman I was in the years before I ever knew my abuser existed, you would unfortunately make the supposition that “someone like me” could never be abused. Society has the destructive habit of cataloging human beings according to their race, education level, gender, income level, and social position in society, and it is no different when the conversation is raised about domestic violence.
Humans have nurtured a selfish need to always exclude themselves from the realms of those they consider to be “the others,” a group of cast-aways who are mistakenly viewed as being somehow beneath the masses so they can realize and justify an invisible buffer meant to protect or elevate them above certain situations that they believe can only affect “those who.” This tendency to relegate these “others” to the status of an undesirable, to marginalize their value as people, is dehumanizing, because it points at circumstances in each of our lives that we battle to improve against factors in the environment and community around us or simply have no control over by passing harsh, demeaning judgment that is used to justify blaming them for things that happen to them, as though they had total control over the perpetrators and the environments around them and simply just let it happen as though they didn’t care. As though they didn’t feel they were worthy of better. As though they didn’t matter.
Instead of allowing people the dignity to show who they are, what their capabilities are, what their strengths are, what their dreams and hopes are as individuals, society takes the fault or unfortunate circumstance of one and applies it to all – as long as they are a member of the so-called undesirables. Stereotyping is damaging. Stereotyping diminishes humanity, and it puts so many at risk for many things up to and including death. Because what tends to happen to these individuals that other groups outcast is that resources are not funded properly, if at all, and they never really are given a fair and unbiased opportunity to change their circumstances. This includes hunger, medical care, housing, education, employment, access to vehicles, eligibility for loans – all things that those who are even above the poverty line can find challenging or even impossible to get based on income standards that are getting more and more rigid as the amounts allotted decrease recklessly in the face of mounting urgent need.
When it comes to domestic violence, there are negatives to both sides. The most obvious is that those in the group usually assumed to be the majority of domestic violence victims, there is a prevailing attitude that it’s their lot in life, and if they wanted better they would work for it, or even worse must have done something to provoke it. Subsequently, legal indifference to them can influence lack of or cuts to funding so there are limited services at their disposal. To me, this is the same thing to me as saying they are not worthy of getting help, because they live a life which supposedly brings the abuse and its unwelcome consequences on them. When you are someone in the group which no one would expect such things to befall one of its members, while there might not be such a tangible lack of resources matching the desperate shortage of services available to the marginalized, there are attitudes that do not allow to a readily available circle of support. Judgment in the instance of domestic violence in this case tends to be as severe and uncaring and can cause us to shrink back from disclosing abuse from fear of criticism and doubt that we will be taken seriously. While there has been dramatic improvements compared to laws in the late 1970’s versus now, there is much in the way of legislation and resources that has simply not kept up with progress of time or societal attitudes and assumptions made in the case of those victimized by domestic violence. Increasing disclosure of abuse and request for services has been met with wildly shrinking budgets, and even as society blames the victim for staying, their indifference or criticism when we do try to find resources to leave can influence many to abandon any attempt to free ourselves or end up pushing us to the abuser because we cannot afford to be on our own.
On paper, and even by mere appearance, and quite unfairly, I am not one of those people typically cast into any of these side groups for more reasons than one. The majority of my background is mostly Northern European and Middle European (some people can see my Native American characteristics easily and some cannot). I was raised in a middle class family with all parents working, multiple vehicles, and eligibility to get mortgages without being a victim of predatory lending. There were eight siblings total: three full blood, two half, and three step. Several of us were able to attend college with assistance of financial aid. After graduating high school and eventually moving out on my own after providing financially for my mother and my two younger sisters, I had a fairly high credit rating. The job I worked provided decent pay for the area I lived in at the time, and I was able to pay all my obligations on time and save money on the side. There was not a lot of extra money, but I was able to live comfortably, and I never had to worry about money. I was careful and saved up for larger purchases so I didn’t have to worry about paying down revolving credit later.
Never did I once imagine that anything I was on paper would ever be detrimental – or fatal, really – to my ability to survive. That is, until I became entwined with and shackled to my ex as his abuse escalated from the priming method of verbal/emotional to include physical abuse, then sexual abuse, then financial, spiritual, and digital/stalking in rapid succession in the months to follow the onset of sexual abuse. For the purpose of this post, I will be focusing on the financial abuse only. It is one of the least talked about, recognized, and understood forms of abuse used against those of who endure intimate partner violence, and there seem to be few avenues to hold the abusers accountable without the victimized party assuming great risk to their safety should they choose to pursue this route. And on top of this, it is one of the more mocked methods of abuse with the main presumption being that we are just using financial abuse as a scapegoat for being irresponsible. Financial abuse can and does restrict the victim so much that we can be incapable of leaving.
When the financial abuse started, it was veiled under accusations that I was not allowing enough contingency money for the household. After a few months, it had turned into heated arguments followed by incessant hounding for more money and demands that I not pay the rent, phone, electric, etc. on time so he could have more money at his disposal. This is fairly common for those of us who are subjected to financial abuse. While in the beginning we may be “allowed” by our abuser to push back against their demands and continue making necessary payments each month, they slowly begin to introduce veiled threats for our noncompliance to their demands. As we continue to push against them, veiled threats can often turn into physical punishments and usurpation of control over the finances. I will avoid generalizing and decline to say we all are subjected to the same forms of financial abuse, but there are always commonalities to how abusers gain control of the finances in the household, and they all cause lasting affects that hinder or halt entirely our ability to survive and live our daily lives without restrictions.
For me, once he realized that his threats of punishment were not enough to gain compliance in not paying bills or paying them late, he decided it was time to tie the financial abuse to guaranteed physical methods of control. At this point, I will note that abusers hardly ever employ just one type of abuse against their victim to gain compliance. Verbal abuse is almost always used in combination with emotional abuse (which often includes gas lighting and threat of / implied harm) to get their victim under their control. Verbal and emotional abuse is generally the lead-in (or priming) method used in cases where the abuser later seeks to escalate into physical (or any of the other forms) violence against their partner, because this method is necessary to destroy self-esteem and sense of self-worth and love. Once our value for ourselves is emptied and our confidence is destroyed, they can proceed their escalation into other forms of abuse with less threat of our leaving. Once he escalated the abuse to include physical punishment, he never again used only one method in his abuse of me; he quite often used two or three at the same time. When I resisted his pressing to pay bills late, and when he found that threats did not move me, he began using physical force to pummel me until I would relent after hours or days of repeatedly being attacked.
Initially, he tried to make me feel like I was selfish and hoarding money away without telling him how much I had. He dismissed the times I funded dinners out, movies, shopping, etc. as responsibility and attempted to warp my thinking to agree that I was holding my being the only breadwinner over his head. There was no appreciation for the fact that when he moved in, because he wasn’t working, I had to stretch my pay (which did not increase) thinner to be able to not only pay living expenses for two people but to fund his selfish need to spend the extra money I did have on his every whim. Because I had to access the money I had in savings to pay bills in the beginning, I no longer had anything to fall back on should a major emergency arise. Once this account was depleted, he was even more controlling over my paycheck.
He was angered by my continued persistence in fighting against him over control of the money. I was working, he was not, but still he felt entitled to it the same as he did everything else. He was displeased and saw it of no importance how his demands would affect my credit as everything was in my name (he moved into my apartment). Failed attempts to manipulate my thinking, inefficacy of his threats to comply, fighting back against his physical attacks only led him to constantly keep increasing pressure on all fronts. Once I gave in to get relief from the attacks, he had his inroad to take over. I remember the first argument over money after my debit card came in the mail. He screamed and yelled at me for hours to get the card, and when I hid my purse from him and refused to tell him where it was, cupboards and closets were ransacked until he found it. It ended with my purse shredded across the bedroom, the bed was torn apart in the fight, and everything that had been inside my purse was strewn about the bedroom. I was bruised, had welts from him trying to wring the purse free of my hands, and found myself plagued with a headache from being repeatedly punched in the head to get me to let go of the purse. We were both out of breath, and by then he was so tired from fighting me that he stormed off in to the living room, leaving me to clean up the bedroom. I pulled out a new bag from the closet and hid it away when he wasn’t looking. He didn’t give up. What he decided to do was simply take advantage of my hearing loss and search for my purse in the middle of the night while I was asleep. Once he found it, he took my debit card and left. I didn’t know he was gone or that he had the card until I woke up the next morning. By the time I knew the card was gone, it was later in the morning when I pulled out my purse from its hiding place – he had put it back exactly as I had placed it – and went to pull out the card to pay a bill over the phone while he was gone.
Since my card was not in my wallet, I attempted to use a check to pay over the phone. Because the payment was declined for lack of funds (despite getting my overnight deposit for my bi-weekly paycheck), I sheepishly dismissed myself and called the bank to check my balance. He had used my entire paycheck and then dug a hold of $1000 before they finally stopped allowing cash to be taken from the account. Half in shock, I stomped out of the house and went the few blocks down the street to my bank without remembering the risk of punishment I took on for leaving the house without asking him. The bank manager “wasn’t available,” and the teller I spoke with was dismissive of my complaint. He spent his days wandering when I was at work, and he would make his rounds to everyone I know building the “he’s such a good guy” image so he could manipulate them while he was manipulating me. She refused to listen to me when I attempted to tell her several times that I did not authorize him to have my debit card or use it that night. With a smug look on her face, her voice dripping with annoyance as she scolded me, she said “Just tell him to be more careful.” Despite repeatedly trying to get someone to hear me, no one acted like they cared.
I was treated the same way when I called the bank headquarters. In fact, I was bullied into a payment plan to which I relented for one simple fact. My rent was due, the electric was due, and both my landlord and electric company were refusing to allow me another few weeks to pass for my next paycheck. I gave in, and the bank agreed to credit the entire amount back – including the paycheck – to my account and they put me on a payment plan. I also requested the bank update my account to disallow further overdrafts on the account. Right about now, I am sure you’re asking yourself why I didn’t have him charged with theft. Keep that question in your mind, but you aren’t going to get the answer just yet. What I do know is that some of you who haven’t been abused have already passed judgment on me and chalked my current situation to lack of action on my part. But you’re wrong.
At this point, I was now constantly a paycheck away from disaster. In October 2008, I had been forced to quit pursuing the International Business degree I had been working on full-time online, because I could no longer afford to buy the books or cover the small tuition payments I had each quarter. When I dropped the classes and withdrew enrollment, he reasoned there would be more cash for him, but the darker, more sinister plan was the financial aid I was responsible for whether or not I graduated. The college worked tirelessly to get me into a financial aid plan I could afford so I could I could finish a degree I had started several years earlier. Because I had transferred credits for a year of college, I had already knocked down a 4 year course study to 3 years. However, I also worked it out to take classes full-time (in addition to working full-time) so I could finish those remaining three years of credits in a year and a half. The adviser with the college tried to persuade me to stay, because I was already halfway done and it would be a big financial burden on me if I dropped out. I was extended special loans by the school due to my financial circumstances that, if I maintained a certain grade and graduated, they would cancel all of these loans on merit and mark them paid-in-full. Dropping out tripled my student loan debt just by adding those loans to the private loans I had through Sallie Mae. On top of this, because I no longer had control over my pay at this point, all the loans went into default and became buried with fees and penalties.
At the end of February 2009, with most of my tax return in tow, we traveled out of state to pick up a used car. I had protested this, because I detest standards, but he persisted in his physically violent way. Tired of the additional punishment, I gave in. There was a plan with this as well, but I’m withholding that for now. We took the bus down, bought the car, and drove it to one of his relatives’ house. Once we had the car back home – a car that I bought, registered, and insured in my name – I was made to comply with his demand that he have all copies of the keys. Everyone assumed that since I now had a car on the road, there was no need to help me get back and forth anywhere anymore – this included to and from work. Common sense, right? Except it’s not.
The car became another means to exert control over where I did and did not go. He would scream at me for not driving then turn around and refuse to allow me to. He would take me to work and then disappear, frequently leaving me stranded at work and scrambling to find a way home. (Some of you might live in a city and have access to multiple opportunities. I do not. I live in a very rural area. Cabs stop running long before they should. There is no mass transit. Cars are imperative to survive here.) Most commonly, he would leave me stranded at work only on the nights I was working with male employees, deliberately putting me in the position to finally relent to their offer to bring me home because they refused to let me walk that far. Other times, he would refuse to bring me to work, and I’d have to beg someone for a ride or scrape up cab fare (AKA beg family for money).
Just a few short months after bringing the car home, I received my first eviction notice and phone shutoff notice. I had to stop paying a $15 /month life insurance payment, because I was not even allowed this. Instead of him helping, I was forced to pack up the entire apartment on my own, arrange for a truck, and managed to beg my family into helping me load everything in the truck. We didn’t have a place to stay the night after we officially left the apartment, because we had no money. We slept in the car for a few days, getting a motel room with my next paycheck. Thanks to his using my money up again and getting pulled over for talking on the phone while driving and being caught with a fake inspection sticker he put on the car, he was arrested, and I had to again call my family to help move what was in the motel room.
I stayed temporarily with my family while he was away, but I had no relief. He repeatedly called the house collect, running up an extremely high phone bill that I had to pay on top of dealing with my mother being argumentative and turning the ringer off so I wouldn’t hear when he called in. Needless to say, I was punished for this as well. When he called to say he was getting out, he was incensed that my family would not come pick him up and that it took the last money I had to get a cab to retrieve him. To keep a long story short, he got into an argument with one of my relatives, tricked me into getting into the car, and took off. We ended up in a rooming house temporarily in a one room hole-in-the-wall sharing a bathroom with a floor full of disgusting and dangerous people whom I’d rather not remember. I wasn’t supposed to be there as he was on assistance, but he forced me into leaving my family’s house so he could keep his eye on me. Only briefly did I leave after an argument in the downstairs kitchen of the rooming house where he had tried to stab me in the chest with a fork while we were cooking dinner. I managed to run upstairs to grab my purse, call a cab, and run outside where someone was sitting, erroneously thinking I would be safer. I was wrong. He followed me outside and was only too happy to show off for the girl sitting on the steps. It felt like it took the cab forever to arrive, and when it did I pretty much jumped in and told them to go with the door still hanging open.
Some of you are thinking I was home free. Not really. Because he had used all the money, I had nowhere to go but back to the same relative’s house and eventually left because I was made to feel unwanted. And the only place I had to go was back the person who was killing me slowly.
Eventually we rented one of the apartments off the back of the rooming house, but we were not free from those I wanted to escape. Once there, I was asked to remove my things from my relative’s house. He was getting assistance to pay the rent, and he was given food stamps which he promptly sold on more than one occasion for drugs. The car was no longer on the road because of an insurance lapse, but since the apartment was in town, there was some access to the bus which made trips to food pantries much easier. Family and a few co-workers again helped me get back and forth to work, but he continued to drive the car that was tied to my name for drug runs and only on occasions he wanted to venture out to do/get something.
By this point, he had sold food stamps on more than once occasion by purchasing food for drug dealers in exchange for drugs. We frequented local food pantries to provide some food on a consistent basis. In order to fuel an addiction growing rapidly out of control, he began selling my things in exchange for drugs and helping dealers sell to other addicts using the living room of the apartment as his base of operation. On one occasion, the dealer took it upon himself to hide a stash of drugs in the back on my bathroom cabinet. It was during this time period that when my ex would blow through the money, he began selling my things in exchange for drugs. Some of the “people” he allowed in the apartment stole things when he wasn’t able to pay attention to what they were doing.
For the second time, he took my debit card and burned through my paycheck and then overdrew the account $1000 into the hole despite my previous request with the bank headquarters to have this option blocked so I did not have to go through a repeat of the first time it happened. When I called them, they did the same as before and could not answer my question how, when I had called at random following my initial request to block overdraft allowance on the account, mysteriously despite verbal confirmation that option was blocked, he was able to overdraw my account again by $1000. I was pushed onto a payment plan and dismissed like a child. Because he was constantly burning through money the same night I got paid, I was not able to pay this amount back. He made me help him wash the car off in the parking lot, and when the landlord left a note telling him if we did so again we’d be evicted, he called the police and tried to get them to intervene. His answer was to not pay the prior week’s rent, and between that and his trying to tangle the police in his mess, the landlord decided she was done Welcome to eviction number two. This happened in spring of 2010, and was the second record of eviction under my name. I again packed up the apartment alone, begged my family for help, and because I had no money, a parent paid for the moving truck because I had no money to do so.
I was fortunate enough to get into an apartment with my income just two minutes from my job. I unpacked everything along while he ran back and forth doing everything he shouldn’t have been. This place was quiet, I actually liked it, so it makes sense he would ruin it; it only lasted a month. He forced his hands into my wallet and found an alternative use for the rent money, and the landlord filed for eviction. The judge spoke to me like a child, and even if she had known the entire situation, I am sure that wouldn’t have stopped her. He sat beside me the entire time gloating over her treatment of me, all the while knowing what he had done, and I was not allowed to tell. I almost slipped. Again, I packed up everything alone, and loaded a truck with the help of argumentative family. Always in the middle, always trying to barely hold things together enough to keep myself from getting beaten for something they said or did that he didn’t like. And that happened often. Such is life. This is where I pick up eviction number three.
Late spring 2010 found me no longer working, and I am sure the entire thing was manipulated to force me home where he could keep watch over me constantly. We had stayed in a motel for several weeks thanks to his sister paying for the room on at least three of those weeks. He had already done some informant work and was asked to continue on. Initially, they paid for a few weeks at the motel and then moved us into an apartment closer to their department. If you’re curious how the rent was paid, he was a very conscientious informant, and they were very grateful for his work. They actually paid for quite a long time, for over a year if memory serves correctly.
During the two years we were in the apartment, things went from desperate to absolutely impossible. Despite my raising contest about his working as an informant, I was ignored, and he was pulled deeper and deeper in. I find it impossible to believe the officers he was working with were unaware he was taking my money for drugs, and I was told on more than one occasion by my ex of jokes they had made regarding his “misappropriation of funds.” There was never any money, he was now also taken to selling my clothes, jewelry, and shoes to female dealers who often drove around selling with their children in tow – some of whom actually had me watch their child while they were downstairs, only to later find out they both had been smoking. He allowed all kinds of dangerous people in my home, some of who I am not ashamed to say I backed out of the apartment with a butcher knife in my hand. It was here that he had people watching the apartment as I was held inside for weeks on end against my will. I was stripped of all keys, I was often denied use of my cell phone. When I was sent out by him for any reason, I learned that he was having me followed then as well. He would always seem to leave a cell phone with me when the landlords and the electric company started calling non-stop for several months worth of money they were owed, so I was always the one being mercilessly hounded by bill collectors. By the time we were evicted from this apartment in the summer of 2012, I was reduced to nothing. Again I packed the entire apartment by myself. Such is the short story of eviction number four.
For a few weeks we stayed with someone he knew, because my family made it clear they were not an option. I paid her money each week which I am sure she never reported despite being on assistance. Eventually she got tired of him, and we were kicked out, leaving my property there with her permission until we could find a place. I was not comfortable with this, but after having to help me move from four evictions, my family’s good will ran out. Someone at a church food pantry offered us a place to stay for a little money a week and all “we” had to do was help her clean it. I tried to decline, because I sensed something was off about her, but he got his way like he always did. When we arrived, the state of the second floor apartment was so bad I could not bare to look at it without wanting to vomit. The kitchen was infested with bugs and worms that I did not care to find out what they were. He pushed me into staying, and I cleaned it by myself. I don’t remember why we left here. I don’t care. It was detestable, but I do remember that she was kind enough to smoke my paychecks with my ex. She hides when she sees me in the store, not because she’s afraid of what I’d do to her, but she knows about the money she owes me. I remind them all every time they come at me acting like we’re friends. Then they suddenly claim it’s a case mistaken identity.
After leaving there, we had no money, and we had nowhere to stay. By now the insurance had been lapsed on the car for several months causing the registration and my driving privileges to be suspended. I was forced to live with him in the car. Our bedroom was a truck stop parking lot, and I lived in constant fear of what I would do had he gotten pulled over during the day while I was at work. The registration was suspended, and they surely would have impounded the car. That is to say, our bedroom. Our one place we had to sleep, not that he let me sleep. No one knew that I had been living in the car, and at that point, I was too ashamed to tell them. While I was at work I scoured apartment listings trying to find a place to live. We looked at several places I knew we’d be evicted from anyway; most of them were disgusting, and he was angry with me for turning every place down. I was about out of options when we went to view the last apartment, and I loved it. As we sat with the landlord filling out the rental application in the warm glow of sun overhead, my ex spun his stories and reeled him in with his lies and grandiose stories. I sat nearly silent, because I was worried about him running a credit check. It’s strange how you can smile and nod and chit-chat like you have no cares in the world even though inside there’s nothing but chaos, destruction, and despair. When we stood up to leave some time later, my ex thought it was a great parting line to tell him we weren’t one of those loud couples with all that domestic violence going on. I felt the air get immediately sucked from my lungs as soon as he said that. My ex, in all his cockiness and arrogance had just told the landlord what he really was, and the man didn’t even notice. When we did get his call offering the apartment to us, I was in total shock, but I didn’t care. I didn’t care that I knew another eviction could be just around the corner. I just wanted a place to live. A bed to sleep in. A kitchen to cook in. A shower I didn’t have to pay to use like we did at the truck stop.
I didn’t make it in the last apartment long enough to see the fifth eviction. My ex offered to have me clean the front hallway where everyone had access to retrieve their mail so we (really he) could get a reduction on the rent, because $25 more a month is $25 more for him. He would stand guard over me in the hall as I cleaned and then have me come back upstairs so he could lock me in the dungeon and be on his way. I’m not sure why the landlord repeatedly kept being taken in by his stories about rent money and all my ex’s other excuses. From October through mid December when I fled with my purse and the clothes on my back to get away from him, we had not paid any rent. Not one cent. I later found out he was there until sometime in April the following spring when the landlord finally had enough and told him it was time to go. I offered to pay half of the rent from the few months I was there, but I made sure to inform him that he wouldn’t be getting any money from my ex because he was giving it to the friendly neighborhood crack dealers.
After I left, beside all the other damage I was faced with as a result of his abuse, I was also financially destroyed. Not that the emotional damage isn’t hindering my life, and not that the physical issues I still battle from injuries during the abuse don’t make things a struggle, the destruction left in the wake of the financial abuse has severely handicapped my ability to live a normal life. What so many people misunderstand is that having a job doesn’t save you from the devastation. You have money coming in, yes. However, generally that it’s enough for current expenses and a little extra only. In my case, it’s not enough to fill in a $200,000 hole or lift my credit score to a nominally acceptable rating. The financial abuse didn’t just cause extra debt. And for those of you saying that “getting a job” or “taking financial education classes” is the answer, that helps none of us when the financial trouble wasn’t cause by our actions but by our abusers’ actions. See the difference? And the laws that are in place are not enough for them to be held accountable. Not even a little. Most of us end up saddled with extreme amounts of debts while the abusers are free to move on with their lives. Meanwhile, we find ourselves buried under a mountain that is impossible to dig out from underneath. For those of you that say money isn’t an excuse to stay, if you have no access to money because you cannot work (or the abuser takes your paychecks), if you are not allowed access to credit or to have any knowledge of family finances, if you are dependent on the abuser’s medical insurance to take care of yourself and your children, if you are not allowed to drive, if your family cuts you off or you are isolated from your family and friends, just where are you to find the money you need to take care of yourself and children if you leave? Perhaps you are unaware of just how scant domestic violence resources are. Often when victims are turned away from a full shelter, or when they discover there isn’t one in the area, they can end up back with their abusers, particularly if there are children to take care of.
The morning I fled my residence to escape the abuse, I had only the clothes on the my back and whatever happened to be in my purse at the time. I managed to sneak my pay card out of his wallet in the middle of the last few hours of commotion, but it didn’t matter at that point because he had already used up my entire paycheck the night before his last assault on me. In exchange for my life, I gave up my entire life which unfortunately included a place to live and everything I owned. It wouldn’t have been so devastating, but I owned everything in the apartment (with the exception of his clothes and bootleg software) right down to the toothbrushes and soap. I lost all my clothing, what jewelry I had left, my furniture, my dishes and cooking ware, electronics, books (my library was worth several thousand dollars and included imported out-of-print books and reference materials), CDs (about 350 of them, many also imported), DVDs (close to 250), all my legal and financial papers and identifying documents – banking, students loans, tax forms, medical information, birth certificate, passport, pay stubs – everything.
I lost the car the week before, because he was driving around with another addict in the car with lapsed insurance and suspended registration. The clutch had been slipping, so he opted to go through a stop sign. He was pulled over for a traffic infraction, but also ended up with an AUO and tickets for a bad muffler. They towed and impounded the car because of the suspension. They found a license plate in the trunk belonging to someone’s car that he found at a car wash when they went through the contents of the vehicle. Too bad they didn’t search either him or the person with him, because they also had paraphernalia on them at the time. In order to get out of trouble, he gave up some dealers and admitted to them that he had planned to remove my plates and replace it with the one he found in the parking lot. After I had left, he had been harassing the owner of the shop where the car was being held in impound. Partly because I didn’t have the money to spring the car out of impound but mostly out of anger at my ex, I instructed the shop owner to destroy the car and asked him the next time my ex called trying to gain access to my vehicle to let him know that I had it destroyed.
Over the course of his financial abuse, he stole about $70,000 cash, including the small 401K I had. Students loans en masse slid into default. Credit cards had been maxed out, subsequently causing lenders to close the accounts due to non-payment and selling them to collections – with their massive penalties and fines in tow. I was stuck with all the utility shutoffs, cable shutoff, two years worth of Federal and State back taxes I was unable to pay because of him, four evictions on my record, money we owed to cabs and bus companies for charging money to get around. When I left, I would have been homeless had my family not taken me in, but that came with its own humiliation. Imagine the desperate embarrassment of being an adult, gainfully employed, having to submit to her parents taking her to Walmart to buy toiletries, a few outfits, food, etc. because she had no money and would not until her next pay check. If you were to add up the money he stole, the possessions of mine that he sold or allowed to be stolen, everything I left behind when I escaped the abuse, the value of the vehicle, and the total of the debts incurred because of him, I was $200,000 in debt when I left him. If that wasn’t enough, all the negative reports on my credit dropped my rating to almost as low as the scores go.
You cannot survive in this world without a job, income, money. Without it, you cannot secure shelter, you cannot buy food, medications, pay bills, get a vehicle, go to the doctor. With a destroyed credit score, you cannot get loans, many places will not let you rent from them. You cannot go back to school with defaulted student loans. When you have defaulted students loans, the IRS seizes them to apply to the loan debt. Because of the money owed to the bank for his overdrawing my accounts, I cannot have an account. They seized what little I had in savings to apply toward the debt from the checking account.
I applied to the NY Crime Victim board for financial assistance due to having to flee my residence from domestic violence. It was denied because I did not have my ex arrested or charged for the final ten hour assault which prompted me to flee. And now the answer to you question of why? He worked as an informant in multiple states for both narcotic and federal agencies. Five states that I know, and nine agencies total. There are probably more, and I will be okay not knowing any others, because it can only make me angry again. He was such a conscientious informant that he could call several of these agencies, no matter what state he chose to call, and they would help him. They would send money. They would pay rent. They would pay fines. They would drop charges. Every time he asked for help, they seemed to do his bidding, including an incident at my parents involving a phone call made to 911 by my stepmother. Poof. It was clear I had no save avenue to report. It would also help you to know that he always exacts revenge, even if he must wait a while to get it. I still wait for mine.
I left my ex almost three years ago. I still cannot afford to live on my own. I still do not have a bank account. I cannot afford to put a car that was *given* to me on the road. I have to juggle and bounce money around to be able to do the smallest of things. I am ineligible still to apply for loans, and I have been refused the majority of credit lines I applied for. Everything I own fits in a small room in a house that I do not rent or own. And if you’re curious, having a job isn’t something that has quickly freed me from some of this burden. I have sacrificed almost everything the past few years to pay down debts that I didn’t even cause.
Financial abuse can hinder or stop you from being able to do the following (and more):
*Having a place to live
*Living in a safe area
*Being able to afford food
*Being able to get medical attention when needed
*Being able to afford medication
*Being able to get a car
*Being able to qualify for loans
*Purchasing school supplies and clothing for your children
*Being able to use transit / cabs
*Being able to pay bills (including water, heat, electric, rent, insurance etc)