An open letter to my abuser’s best friend

pexels-photo-959308In an age of believing survivors, and given how much of a feminist you are, this one really hurt. It hurt to lose you. I didn’t think I would lose you, but I am not sure why I expected things to go any differently. You’ve known him much longer than you’ve known me, and he was very careful to only confide in you when things could be my fault.

He never reached out to you when he struggled with my expectations around the house. Never said, “Do you think she’s being unreasonable?” when I asked him to handle something he told me was unreasonable. He could never risk you saying, “Uh, dude, she’s being totally reasonable.” I don’t think he ever came to you when the situation wasn’t about me upsetting him.

Whenever we had issues, he’d bring my friends into it. “You have your friends to talk to and I don’t have anyone.” I always told him that yes he did. He had you, he had other friends, he could get a therapist or come with me to mine. But he insisted he couldn’t talk to you about the things we struggled with. It struck me as odd but I didn’t realize until after I left and he started his storytelling that it was because he could not dare to confide in you a story in which he might be in the wrong. He must play the part of the victimized husband who bent over backwards to meet my whims and was tossed aside when I got bored.

I gave my twenties to that man. He preyed on me when I was 23, as close to “barely legal” as a 40 year old man could get. I believed every word of his fairy tales about how we were meant to be. How he had never felt this way. How neglected he was and how I made him feel things he never thought he could feel again. I stepped in as the savior, the second chance.

You told me when our marriage started to deteriorate that you’d never seen him so happy. It hurt me to read those words. Of course he was happy. I took care of his house and his cats and his laundry and his meals. He didn’t have to lift a finger. Of course he was happy — but did you know me enough to notice or care if I was? When he met you for breakfast, I’d drop him off so that I could go get the shopping done. When you two went out for a day of photography, I’d clean the house and catch up on laundry. Because there was no fair division of labor, my fun always had to come after my responsibilities — otherwise no one would do them. When I did go out with friends or for a morning on my own, I’d be in constant touch with him, letting him know when I’d be home, because I always felt that he owned my time. He’d tell me with words that he didn’t own my time, but his behavior when I didn’t want to sit and watch four hours of television a night was one of a petulant and pouting child not getting his way.

I saw you and your family making things work. You share cooking, pet care, cleaning, parenting. You share everything, and there is balance. I never had the sharing or the balance. He would not learn to use the Instant Pot or a cast iron skillet. He acted like he had achieved greatness when he made soup one time with my supervision. When he made dinner, I pre-chopped the vegetables for him and put frozen french fries in the toaster oven. Even when he made me dinner I still needed to be close, on hand, ready to take over. Once, he walked away from the stove and dinner burned slightly, and he threw a tantrum about how ruined it was and refused to eat. He went to bed immediately.

I was always on eggshells. Always stressed. Always one moment away from being triggered by his stumbling into my childhood traumas from my abusive mother and then left alone to cry on the kitchen floor when he asked if my panic attack was “about my mom issues.” He was not kind to me, unless people were watching. This is the key. You never, ever saw what it was like alone with him. With an audience, he was captivating, clever, charming. He said the funny things for me to post on Facebook. But when I wasn’t happy and charmed by him, he asked why I was so distant, demanded to know what was wrong. He never told me to smile like a catcaller on the street, but I had to smile anyway. Act happy or deal with the pouting.

When I saw you in September at an event and you asked me how I was, I was relieved that you even spoke to me. My face broke into a smile and I said I was great. In the moment I felt so happy to have seen you again. Someone who was my friend. And now, I worry that you thought I was gloating.

When I realized you had unfriended me on Facebook, tears welled up in my eyes. It shook me. I know you had talked about reducing your Facebook use, so I thought maybe you removed me for my own safety so I didn’t feel like you might be watching me. But you were gone on Instagram too, and you never replied to the text I sent wishing you well. It all hurt.

But you were his friend before you were my friend, and you never actually knew me. You knew the version of me from his head, the version that I destroyed with “toxic feminism” and expecting more of him. It is no coincidence that I left him three months after I started antidepressants. Once the fog cleared and I stopped being so afraid of HIM leaving ME for daring to ask him to take out the garbage, I realized he’d been steering my behavior all along. So I left. And then he started his story of being abused and manipulated by me, a flipping of the truth, and some people will always choose to believe the Nice Guy’s story. I can’t control that.

This letter has no purpose except to say that I miss you, and I value your friendship, and I do hope you are well.

I don’t expect you to believe me. But I’d love to see you again.

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Seven life lessons from a Ragnar relay

pinkrunning-pink-running-new-442400I recently did a Ragnar Relay race at the end of September. If you’re not familiar, it’s two vans full of twelve runners (six per van) running about 200 miles over two days. You don’t sleep much. You don’t eat great. You run a lot and you get to know some people pretty intimately.

It was amazing.

And I came away with a few life lessons I hope to include in my new routine.

1. Pace yourself. In life and in racing, it’s important to pace yourself. Push and challenge yourself but don’t overdo it, especially if you are still early in the process. Big pushes are for finishing strong.

2. Make self care a given. When I packed for this race, I packed one bag for my running clothes and gear and a backpack with toiletries, first aid, and recovery gear. By making my recovery process part of the overall plan, I made sure to take good care of myself. When I’m not doing a race it’s so easy to let basic care (stretch, wear comfy clothes, massage sore muscles, eat a snack) go by the wayside. Amazingly, I wasn’t in absolute agony after the race. I was sore and tired, of course, but I was back to normal within a week (physically… the sleep deprivation took a little longer). Making self care a non-negotiable aspect of my life, I’ll recover from stress faster too.

3. Show up. Sometimes you just gotta show up. We got to our air bnb at 11pm to the sound of charming church bells in a drizzle that had just calmed down from torrential downpour territory. We clambered in, claimed our beds, took turns so all seven of us could use the bathroom, and were asleep around 11:30 before a 3am wake up call. Except the bells rang all night. Just when you thought they were done, you’d hear a “bongggggg!” We all got about three hours of sleep and woke up pissed at the bells. We arrived at our starting line before 4 and started the race at 5. We weren’t excited but we had to show up even though we didn’t feel our best.

4. Changing doesn’t mean failure. A third of the way through my first leg, a 6.3 miler with a wicked hill, the first nine legs of the race were canceled due to flash flooding and the race was rescheduled to start at leg 10 at 1pm. So at 7:12am, after I was finally heading downhill and felt excited to be really doing this, my van picked me up after only two miles and change. But I still count that leg as legitimate. That uphill climb was hardcore and I handled it! Even though I had to cut my goal short, it was still a success. I still showed up.

5. Ask for help. As we were running our legs, many of us texted the van to request water or a sweatshirt or a snack at the exchange point so we could quickly get what we needed. And the runners in the van always made sure to have these things ready to go. When we take care of each other and feel confident to ask for what we need, everyone does better.

6. Say yes to new experiences. First of all, I said yes to a Ragnar in the first place. But more specifically, I was dozing in the van when my boyfriend (our van driver) popped the door open and said “Caitlin get up. Come with me.” I groggily complained, “Whyyyyy,” and he replied with three very important words: “Baby moo cows.” I was up and moving already, “Baby cows!?” He took me through a barn at the dairy farm where our exchange point was and I got to pet calves in the middle of the night. By “middle of the night,” I mean it may have been 8pm or 2am, I seriously don’t remember. But I got up and said yes to something awesome.

7. Pack extra underwear. ALWAYS.

Now that my “race season” is over for the year, I’m not taking on any races longer than a 5K through 2019. My new “season” is one of low impact. Low impact exercise. Low impact schedule. Low impact social life. Low impact lifestyle. It is time to rest and recover.

4 Tips for Transitioning to a Vegan Lifestyle | Guest Blogger Jordan Smith

vegan

In honor of World Vegan Day (Nov 1, 2018), today’s blog is a guest post from Jordan Smith!

When you think about going vegan, dietary changes are probably the first things that come to mind. Veganism is about a whole lot more than just what you eat, though. For most people, transitioning to a vegan lifestyle also means choosing clothing, furniture and even cleaning products that are free of animal products and byproducts. It is a huge lifestyle change and making the switch can seem quite daunting.

If you are thinking about going vegan, though, don’t fret. By making small changes a little at a time, you can make the transition go a lot more smoothly. Here are a few tips.

Learn as Much as Possible

Going vegan is a huge step. It involves making changes in nearly every area of your life and choosing to do so is not a decision that should be taken lightly. Before you begin the transition, take the time to learn about veganism and its benefits to discover whether it is right for yourself and your family.

Educate yourself about the costs and practices of the traditional production of animal products. Familiarize yourself with the reasons people choose to go vegan and work toward developing your own reasons and beliefs.

If you decide that transitioning to a vegan lifestyle is right for you, do some research to learn how to adequately nourish your body on an exclusively plant-based diet. Familiarize yourself with common ingredients that are derived from animals to know what you will need to avoid. Browse the aisles at your local store to see what vegan-friendly products are available in your area. If you are unable to find the foods and products you need locally, spend some time browsing the web to find reliable sources.

The more you educate yourself before you make the switch, the easier the transition will be, so don’t skip this important step.

Start Transitioning at Your Own Pace

For some people, going vegan is easy. They stop using and consuming animal products all at once and they never look back. For others, however, it’s much more challenging. If you need to transition in steps, that is perfectly acceptable. There is nothing wrong with transitioning a little at a time and, if you do it at your own pace, you are more likely to be successful.

Even if you start off having just one vegan meal per week or you vow to only purchase clothing made with cotton fabrics or bamboo instead of animal products like wool or fur, you are making a step in the right direction. Don’t focus on the end goal of living a completely vegan lifestyle. Focus on small steps and commit to making the transition at your own pace.

Add Before You Subtract

Eliminating animal products from your diet is a good place to start your transition. Before you start taking things away, though, you need to start adding healthy alternatives. Start incorporating things like beans, nuts, whole grains, legumes, tofu and seeds into your diet more frequently. Figure out which flavors you like and which you don’t. Experiment with different recipes and familiarize yourself with the many ways vegan-friendly ingredients can be incorporated into your diet.

Replace your milk with a non-dairy alternative, such as soy milk or almond milk. For most people, this is a pretty easy switch to make, so it is a good first step. If you do not like the first option you try, try another. There are a lot of options, so while it may require a bit of experimentation, there should be something out there that you like.

Think Beyond Your Diet

There are huge ways to reduce your use of animal products that have nothing to do with what you eat. Changing your diet is a huge part of going vegan, but there are also several lifestyle changes you can make. You may already avoid real fur coats, but what about your handbag? Is it made of leather? Is your favorite sweater made from alpaca? If the answer is yes, you might also want to consider updating your wardrobe as part of transitioning to veganism.

When shopping for cruelty-free clothing, check tags carefully. Cotton tees are safe, of course, as are garments made from synthetic materials like polyester. Wool, leather and real fur are things you should obviously avoid, but one animal product that’s often overlooked is down. Made from the soft layer of feathers that grows close to a bird’s skin, down is frequently used in winter coats (plus comforters and pillows) but should be avoided by those who embrace veganism.

Pay attention to household and personal care products, too. Many beauty products contain things like beeswax, honey, lanolin, gelatin and collagen, all of which are animal products or derivatives. If you are going vegan, there are several animal-based ingredients you will want to avoid. These ingredients can be found in everything from cosmetics and cleansers to diapers and household cleaning products. Familiarize yourself with what ingredients these products are actually made from and make informed decisions when shopping to ensure that the products you choose are vegan-friendly.

In Conclusion

Going vegan is a huge lifestyle change. It isn’t one that needs to be made overnight, though. For most people, making small changes works better than trying to make the transition all at once. Start by familiarizing yourself with veganism and its benefits and make small changes that are easy to stick to. Rather than eliminating meat from your diet completely, commit to having one vegan meal per week and experimenting with vegan-friendly ingredients. Implement changes gradually and transition at your own pace.

If possible, talk to other people who are making the switch. Having the support of a community makes the transition much easier and can help you achieve success. Even if you struggle, remember that every step you take is a step in the right direction. There is no time limit on how to make a big lifestyle change and, whether it takes you a few weeks or several years, you will reach your goal if you persevere.


Jordan Smith is a full-time stay-at-home mother of 2 daughters and a new dog, Luna! She loves spending time with her family and coming up with creative new crafts for every occasion. As blogging is her second passion, she is a regular contributor to The Blog for all Things Wholesale Apparel. She also enjoys strolling the streets of downtown Charleston, South Carolina and all the amazing food her hometown has to offer. 

Creating new routines

pexels-photo-990830

When I got to work on yet another Monday morning and opened my bag to find the deconstructed tissue box that I had meant to throw in the recycling bin at home, I was not annoyed that I kept seeing the tissue box. I was delighted that I had continued to take my bag home and leave it unopened until I got to work the next day. I haven’t gotten on my laptop at home in weeks.

I turned in my book manuscript and I’m awaiting feedback from my publisher. I am sure there will be revisions, but until I hear back, I am enjoying getting to go home at night and relax. I’m unpacking and putting things up on the walls. I’m making my new home feel like home. I’m reading books (yes, books, printed books!) and taking bubble baths and spending time with people I care about. I’m thinking, “Hey, I haven’t heard from my brother in a while, I’m going to send him a text and schedule a phone call.”

I am working on designing a life and schedule that allows me to do my writing on the weekends, so I don’t need to go home from a full day of my face in a screen and continue having my face in a screen until bedtime. The benefits of this schedule shift are innumerable.

I am better rested.

I am rising earlier and exercising in the morning, which is when I like to exercise.

I am relaxing in the evenings so that I don’t feel like my life is rushing from one thing to the next.

I am, as they say, filling my own cup.

People do well with routine. Routines and habits can be very healthful…or not so much. Now that my deadlines are over (mostly), I’m leaning into creating routines and habits that decrease stress. I used to layer commitments over obligations over responsibilities and I’d end up frazzled, tired, and absolutely depleted, promising myself that this would be the last weekend for a while that I had to do so much. Now, I am working on saying no, even to things that I know would be fun or feel good in the moment. I have to think about how I’ll feel afterward, which is not something I used to think about.

As it turns out, I am a pretty social person (something my ex had trained out of me). When my sister came to visit just a couple of months after I moved out, she met the new people in my life and expressed to me how excited and impressed she was that I had met people and made new friends. She had thought I hated socializing, didn’t like people, and enjoyed my solitude. Make no mistake, I do enjoy my solitude, but I also love to be around people. This is something I didn’t even realize about myself. I am a hardcore introvert who needs to go home and build a cocoon after social events, but I enjoy myself immensely when I’m in the midst of good times with friends.

Rebuilding after leaving abuse is weird. The things you thought you knew about yourself are often not true at all. After a traumatic childhood and a mentally abusive seven year relationship, I am meeting myself for the very first time. And I like myself. I really like myself. I like the version of me that considers herself and her needs for rest. I like the version of me that sees the smile and the brightness before worrying about the thighs and tummy. I like the version of me who no longer chases approval to feel valuable.

So, yeah, I’m really happy about that un-recycled tissue box that means I go home at night and enjoy my life and my free time. Really, really happy.

Book Review: Decluttering at the Speed of Life

It’s been a while since I did a post on decluttering and minimalism, and I am so excited to give a rave review of Dana K. White’s book Decluttering at the Speed of Life. I downloaded it using the Hoopla app (which lets you use your library card to borrow six titles per month for FREE) and listened on my commute.

I’ve been through some stuff lately, y’all. I am moving for the second time in seven months. When I packed up and moved out of my ex-husband’s house, I realized that I was barely taking up space in that house. I’d pack my items up in each room and look at what was left behind, bewildered that it looked essentially the same. I had been trying to take up space for four years and though I’d hung art on the walls and organized the Pyrex containers the way I liked them, it never really felt like home.

With this move, I was determined to take up space and make my apartment a true home for myself filled with joy. I made a reading nook corner that I never used, I found the perfect chair at the Habitat for Humanity Store that I never sat in, and I used an air mattress as a couch because screw giant furniture. And I was happy there. Until I decided to move again ahead of schedule as part of Operation De-Stress.

Turns out, I still had stuff I didn’t use, need, or even want. Like the two sets of towels I received as wedding gifts that are still in their packaging. We got married over two years ago. Plus, some of the cute towels I bought when I moved in aren’t all that absorbent despite the fact that they match my bathroom theme. They’re in the donate box now. LuLaRoe clothing that I held onto for their resale value are just in the donate box. The white linen skirt I wore at my wedding, which I had planned to use in some piece of inspired transformative artwork, is in the donate box.

Because, hold up, this book has changed my life.

First of all, Dana K. White is the author of the blog A Slob Comes Clean, which started as an anonymous “practice blog” where she could confess her dirty house secrets. But then it turned out that a ton of other people related to her clutter woes and she ended up building a huge following and brand and I’ve consumed her books Decluttering at the Speed of Life and How to Manage Your Home Without Losing Your Mind.

You should read these books if you have a messy home that you feel like you can never get out from under. Right now. Find them.

Here are the things Dana has taught me:

  1. The Visibility Rule: Start your decluttering project in the most visible places in your home. Where do you enter your home (and where do guests enter)? Look at your home as if you are a visitor and start decluttering the most obvious spaces. Clear your “slob vision” by looking at your home through new eyes.
  2. Don’t Pull Everything Out: I used to postpone decluttering because I wanted to go in KonMari style and do whole categories at a time. But I have other stuff to do, and I don’t always have the time or energy or wherewithal to pile every piece of clothing I own on the bed, touch it, and ask if it brings me joy. Dana helped me understand that I can declutter effectively without this en masse approach.
  3. The Container Concept and One In One Out: This is something I actually had done before, in my earliest days on the blog. I had a small bookshelf and decided I’d only keep the books that fit. The bookshelf was my container. But this method died a quick and painful death when I moved in with my “collector” ex, who had shelves upon shelves upon totes upon totes of books, technology, toys, hobby equipment, and clothes. And he was a shover. I cannot stand shoving. If a drawer is too full to close and needs shoved, there is a problem. Dana’s book reminded me that if there’s shoving, it’s time to remove something until the container is actually containing things.
  4. Start with Trash and Easy Stuff: Dana’s decluttering steps are so simple and obvious, I feel ridiculous that I never did it her way before. When you’re in your most visible space, start by throwing away or recycling the trash. Then look for Easy Stuff, things that obviously don’t belong in this space. Then…
  5. Take It There Right Now: Get rid of your Easy Stuff by putting it in its proper place as soon as you pick it up. Also, as you’re decluttering, ask yourself “Where would I look for this first?” and take it there RIGHT NOW. (MIND BLOWING – No “Keep” Boxes allowed).
  6. Donate the “Almost Perfect:” This one hit me so hard. If there’s something you keep around but don’t tend to use because you don’t like one thing about it, it’s time to say goodbye. This is what helped me let go of a super cute dress that didn’t fit right in the bust, as well as the aforementioned not-super-absorbent-but-really-cute towels. But now all my towels fit on one shelf in the linen closet with no more shoving!

There’s plenty more, but I really seriously want you to read her book. Also, she has a podcast. I am gonna die of excitement.

On moving on (and moving)

I’m moving for the second time in roughly seven months, so it’s time to declutter again. I’m touching things that were too hard to think about the last time that feel ridiculously easy to toss now. Each day I’m further away from the tumult of March, of deciding to leave my marriage.

I spent several months balancing moments of joy, relief, and comfort with the truth that I was largely depressed. A low, foggy cloud was in the way of healing and even though happiness shone through the clouds consistently and I knew I had good in my life, the fact that I had yanked the rug out from under what I thought was my happily ever after was jarring.

My decision to leave happened in the span of a few weeks. It still seems so strange that I just up and removed myself from a whole life, like a game piece sent directly to jail, do not pass go, do not collect $200. One moment I was a wife trying to start a family with her husband and the next moment I was decidedly single and hurriedly moving everything I owned into a new apartment. And I tried to make it home. It was part of healing, so I thought. I needed the space, the single time, the starting over. I filled the loneliness with casual sex, which I’ve found is not really my thing. I filled the loneliness with unpacking and shopping for colorful things and bringing home new plants. And those things were nice. My apartment was a place of colorful mourning.

But now I’m moving again into a place that feels safe. It feels like home. And even though my same stuff is in it, it just feels right in a way my apartment didn’t. And when I go to the apartment to pack and declutter I realize why it feels right this time.

I’m not running. I’m not desperate. I’m not trying to escape anything. No one is sending me threatening and harassing text messages and having his friend park outside my home to watch me move out.

When I first moved out and into the apartment, I hadn’t had the time to prioritize or declutter things. I was stuffing boxes and moving fast. It wasn’t ideal. So I decluttered as I unpacked, but I held onto things like wedding photos and cards, things my husband had given me in better times, and practical wedding gifts that were still in their packaging.

I even had ideas about turning these items into art projects. I was going to tear strips from my white linen wedding skirt and plaster them to canvas and paint them as a forest of trees. I was going to cut words and well wishes out of the cards and paste them together to form a found word poem about freedom. As a creative, I’m doomed to constantly wonder if I could turn any random idea or object into a powerful statement.

But this time packing and decluttering, it was different. I opened the box of cards, letters, wedding vows, and photos, and I just threw them away. The mix cds with songs that now nauseate me, I just threw away. My skirt is in the donate pile. The notebook in which he wrote one thing he loved about me on each page grew literal mold on it and I threw it away without opening it.

I made the choice to focus on forward. I’m moving into a new home and I don’t want to bring this marriage with me. It’s time to rest. It’s time to put it down.

I still get angry. I uncover more insights into my time with him and I’m just angry sometimes. I spent years of my life on someone who saw me as an ambulatory Amazon Alexa who could bring him toast.

Being treated like that is also something I’ve thrown in the trash.

Memories of bad relationships never go away. They’ll always inform your behavior, and your trauma is no less real even as you move further from your emotional ground zero. But I don’t have to keep physical reminders of the lowest points of my life to remember. I can remember all on my own.

Being able to throw that stuff away was one of the most concrete moments of my healing. I didn’t think about it. I just put it where it belonged. I’m coming out of the fog.

The realities of financial abuse

We’re at a point in society in 2018 where I feel confident people can acknowledge that abuse isn’t just physical. Mental and emotional abuse (through control, negligence, gaslighting, and other manipulations and mind games), sexual abuse, and financial abuse may not leave visible bruises but leave a lasting impression on their victims and survivors. Survivors of abuse often have complex post-traumatic stress disorder (C-PTSD), but I’m not a doctor so don’t necessarily take my word for it.

What I can tell you is that I reached out to my social network to ask for examples of financial abuse from their own pasts and I was overwhelmed by the stories they shared with me.

It is financially abusive to neglect practical life issues in a way that requires your partner to compensate for them. Whether it’s paying a $25.00 parking ticket because you can’t be bothered to put enough quarters in the meter, or it’s paying $150 for unplanned groceries when the freezer is already stocked, or it’s cancelling income-generating work commitments to handle everyday crises, or it’s simply deploying emotional, social and logistical resources to solve practical problems to a degree that sabotages your partner’s health and well-being, it is abusive.

-Elle


My ex bullied and pressured me into having a credit card saying I must build a score. I didn’t want one but he pushed for months. When I had one, his pressure for me to buy one of or pay for half of tons of needless shit was relentless. I made minimum wage and he was bullying me to pay for half of DVDs I told him I didn’t want. Half of new couches I didn’t want. So on and so forth. It really made it hard to leave because I couldn’t make it as easily on my own now, and guess who was on me to pay those cards off. But after him I never took on another card and treated debt like bondage and while he didn’t teach me shit, I taught me a lot through that and now I teach others.

-Rosemary


My significant other used to take pride in having amazing hiding spots. On more than one occasion, I found money hidden throughout the house or his car. Once, we needed diapers and had zero money. I open up his glove box and find $20 hidden in there. I was livid because here I am freaking out about buying our child diapers and he has this money hidden. That he “forgot” about because he “put it up for a rainy day.” Well, I don’t know what’s more rainy than needing diapers for your child.

On a more long term occasion, he took over the finances and never told me anything. Where the money went, what bills we had paid, and when I asked to do a budget, he was always too busy. He told me every pay day how much money I could spend, and it was my responsibility to stay within that limit.

– Bianca


While we were separated he was still financially supporting me while I went to school. One night I asked him to not slam my door and he responded “who pays for your right to use that door?”

I applied for child support the next day.

After I filed for child support, he drained our bank account. Two months in a row. The first month I had been able to pull out money for my rent before he attempted to take out all of the money, his transaction bounced and he swore it was an accident, the second month we both did the transactions at the same time, over drafting the account $1500. He has been avoiding service and cut us off financially until it is court ordered, while he draws out the process as long as possible.

-Stephanie


My ex was laid off for about six months and was receiving unemployment at a decent rate because he his job paid really well. I had been saving up money for a trip we were taking, which we postponed in order to cash flow our budget while he looked for a job. The problem was that he wouldn’t talk to me about making a budget. ‘There isn’t a point in making a budget when I don’t even have a job,’ was his response when I wanted to take a look at the finances. All the bills got paid and we didn’t incur any debt during his six month stint of unemployment, but the housework was still all my responsibility and he continued spending at his previous levels while my savings account dwindled to keep him from using credit cards. He routinely used my belief in being debt-free as a way to leverage my extra cash flow to meet financial goals while he never had to be accountable for his own finances.

-Katie


My ex intentionally overdrafted my bank account by $600. He’d spend every dime I earned even if it meant I couldn’t buy necessities for myself or my daughter. He made me get a collateral loan on my car to pay his legal fees, then turned around and revealed he had $1200 stashed in the air vent in our room. He spent it on a mattress and an xbox, both of which he sold shortly after. He bought expensive items on credit in my name then didn’t pay. He pawned my engagement ring. He would sell anything I owned that had any value.

-Anne


My first live-in boyfriend used to spend all of his money (he made at least twice as much as I did ) on fast food and who knows what else and I had to work two jobs while going to school full time to make the bills. I didn’t have food for myself for a week because of that. Thank God one of my jobs was at a restaurant so I at least had one employee meal.

-Gen


Not every story of financial abuse is from a romantic partner. Many family relationships are also tainted by financial control, withholding, and abuses.

When I fled my father’s house because of all the yelling and etc, he took away my emergency credit card, which was in my name but for which he held the main account—because I didn’t have credit yet, being 18. He called me on my friend’s landline (I had fled to my college roommate’s house) to tell me that it was time for me to learn to be “responsible.” I had never failed to pay it off each month, so it was obviously about control and not any kind of lesson in financial responsibility.

-Martha


The woman who raised me for the worst parts of my childhood is a millionaire. Her money has always been of the ways she controls others. She’ll buy anyone close to her anything, but it’s a deal with the Devil. When I was struggling, she offered to buy me a car. I was desperate and picked out a $3000 used car. She took me to the dealer and picked out a brand new Ford Explorer. It was nice, all the bells and whistles. I sat down in the driver’s seat and I remembered another Explorer she’d bought, 12 years prior.
For my ex brother in law and all of the strings that came with it, how he danced like a monkey because she financed it in both of their names and how she eventually let it get repossessed because he wouldn’t dance like a monkey anymore.

I left the dealer without a car. The bus never felt more like freedom.

-Sherry


You mean like when my mom got pissed at me for losing my virginity and forced me to quit my job and closed out my checking account, pocketing the money from it? What about when I was required to pay for a car (and insurance, etc) that I was only sometimes allowed to use and had to share with my mom? What about when they threatened to report that car stolen if I left in it when they were berating me, since it wasn’t in my name even though I’d paid for it for a year and a half? They also threatened to make me lose my scholarships that I had through the district by transferring me to another one for the last 3 months of my senior year, because they were pissed at me for losing my virginity. I went to everyone I could think of at the school for all of this, and no one did jack shit to help me.

-Brianna


I used to help a WAHM in high school and I would hide all of the money I got from that and when I was gone my mom would search my room to find my new hiding places and steal my money. I also couldn’t have a bank account because she would have 100% access to it since I was a minor. I had to ask the lady I was helping to just keep the money then I would tell her what I needed/wanted to use it for. I had to spend birthday/Christmas money right away or it was gone.

-Gen


My aunt funded the difference between living on campus and living off campus for my college. My junior year of college my mother told me my aunt had changed her mind and would no longer fund college expenses. She also told me I was not welcome to stay with family and thus I would have to withdraw from college. I called my college finance office in tears ready to withdraw. They found a handful of scholarships for me to make up the difference and I was able to stay in college.

Years later, my aunt asked why I stopped sending thank you cards after my sophomore year for the college expenses. It turns out my mother pocketed $6,000 total over two years that my aunt had given her to pay my college bills.

This is the most egregious of several similar stories.

-Anonymous

Other readers shared stories of witnessing financial abuse, if not experiencing it directly themselves, as a result of divorce.

My dad lied and got primary custody of us and used to give us, as kids, handwritten invoices to give my mom for “her half” of things. He would nickel and dime her down to the penny for things like “three packs of pens for school” and “6 spiral bound notebooks.” When I refused, he made my brother (who is developmentally delayed) do it. I finally screamed, ‘Use a stamp or walk out to the car during pickup because I’m not going to keep being your mule and neither is my brother’ around age 15 and he finally stopped. The worst part was he was incapable of seeing what an asshole it made him. Like, he cried when I yelled at him. “I could have taken so much more I’ve been so nice” …he was horrified that I thought this was so villainous.

-Rae


My bio-dad would take me shopping with my three half-siblings and step mom, and he’d buy those kids things and not me. If I questioned it, he’d say it’s because he paid my mom child support already, so he wasn’t spending any other money on me.

-Leila

These survivors share their stories in the hopes that sharing and educating others about the realities of financial abuse can help others recognize and escape abusive relationships.

For help identifying or leaving an abusive relationship, please contact the Domestic Violence Hotline. 1-800-799-7233

http://www.thehotline.org/