Why doesn´t she just leave?” I asked myself for the ninth time that evening while thinking about Francia, a dear friend of mine who was struggling in a domestic financial abusive relationship. This is one of the most addressed questions that non victim moms ask when domestic abuse is the topic. And there is a powerful reason beneath it.
When we ask “why”, it is because we cannot understand the motivation a mom has to keep in this so obviously harmful situation—at least obvious to us. Would it be that we ask from our judgmental self? Sometimes our why is hiding something like “she deserves it because she doesn´t want to leave”, which is a terrible and unfair approach.
The truth is that no one ever wants or deserves to be in an abusive relationship and any mom can be a victim of it since domestic financial abuse doesn´t discriminate. Anyone can fall into the hands of an abuser, and because they are very good at making you believe what they want, you may come to believe that your lifestyle—with zero or minimum control over the household money—is completely typical, when it is not.
The reasons why the victim doesn´t leave are diverse. They often include weak and depressed psychological and emotional state of the victim—mainly caused by her abuser; and the lack of financial self-sufficiency.
Without money and resources to make a living, feeling insecure about their ability to support themselves and their children it is even much difficult to attempt to leave their abuser. However, there are a many actionable steps every victim mom can take in order to break free from domestic financial abuse.
I am sharing the top 7 steps you may want to tell any victim of domestic financial abuse, the next time you are guessing why doesn´t she just leave?, in order to equip her for taking that huge step into freedom.
7 Actionable steps to break free from domestic financial abuse
Recognize there is a problem. The first step that lead to any kind of honest and lasting changes in our life is recognizing a change is needed. You need to know the signs for domestic financial abuse in order to recognize if you are a victim. Realizing that you´re being victim of some type of abuse is difficult and you´ll need to understand and accept that you cannot break free from this without help. And there is where the change really begin to take place.
Seek for professional help. As the perpetrator has built a trap for you, a smart step to take is seeking for professional help. A financial abuse advocate or an organization with experience in domestic financial abuse may guide you to grow from wherever it is you are. It is probable you don´t trust anyone or even yourself because the abuser may had destroyed your sense of strength and resilience. Professional help will add you the value of understanding the victim´s side and will help you overcome financial abuse in a fast way and shorter period of time.
Understand domestic financial abuse. You would want to study to learn and understand your situation. It is really important that you get to know what is happening to you. Start unveiling what is financial abuse, what the signs are and different strategies the abuser can use, what financial abusers are like, how to prevent domestic financial abuse, and how to get out of that disadvantaged situation.
Seek for legal help. Legal help is a very smart step to take. No matter how much you think you know, if you are not a lawyer who specializes in domestic financial abuse or domestic violence, you´ll need some legal advice. Knowing the legal rights a mom has when facing and abusive situation, and understanding how to use the law on your behalf can make a huge difference in your current and future life in the pursue of financial self-sufficiency. For legal services call the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence tall free line at 1-800-537-2238. They will provide you with a list of legal professionals in your area that may help you with no cost.
Build a financial plan. Having a financial plan is crucial for moms like you to be able not only to leave, but to stay away of the toxic relationship, since lack of financial self-sufficiency is the major factor why survivors go back to an abusive relationship.
Building a financial plan requires that you evaluate your finances literacy level and confidence in order to understand how close or far you are from a good financial management. In case you don´t feel confident enough, you could study a little about the basics of finances. Also you´ll need to gain information about your assets and liabilities, and start saving some money aside in a safe place your partner can´t access. Save until you have enough money to leave.
Plan to leave. Once, you have contacted professional help, and you know to what degree you´ve been abused, your rights, and you have a financial plan in order to help you recover from a separation and be able to survive for the first days or weeks, it is time to plan to leave. It is important to identify where to go. It can be a relative´s place, a shelter, or any other safe place you can move when needed.
The important is to know exactly where you will be heading to when you leave and who will pay for your food, and medicine, and transportation. It is also important to consider some safety tips because abusers tend to go for their spouses once they have gained the courage to leave them, therefore it is crucial that you delete your traces in order he cannot find you.
Call the emergency line. Taking these steps will walk you to break free from domestic financial abuse, however, if you feel you are in danger and you will not be able to complete all the steps without rushing, call the National Domestic Violence toll free Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or access their web.
One important thing to note is that there is hope. Financial abuse—as other forms of domestic abuse—doesn´t happen because of the victim. You are not responsible for what he has done. There is nothing wrong with you, and you´ll need to step up for yourself to be able to overcome this undesirable situation.
These actionable steps may seem like a lot of work to be done, however it will be worth it because you deserve better. You are better than that and it is worth the effort in exchange for the financial self-sufficiency and happiness you and your children will achieve in your life.
I consider these steps the top actionable ways to support financially abused victims moms.
Now that you know that leaving is not that easy, what new perspective have you gained about what it’s like to break free from domestic financial abuse?