I am a victim of financial abuse. I don’t state this lightly and I don’t say it out of spite. I’m addressing it because financial abuse is real and it’s devastating.
First, I want to say that I am not a feminist. I’m not liberal, woke, or a man hater. God’s Word is everything to me; I believe it to be inerrant, infallible, authoritative, and sufficient. I am patriarchal, a stay at home mother, homemaker, and striving to be a Titus 2 woman. Sadly, I am also separated. I miss being a wife. I loved my husband. Even though my marriage was fraught with abuse in various forms and with infidelity, I loved being married. My place as a woman is by the side of my husband. Sadly, the man I married had no desire to actually be a husband; he simply wanted a wife. He himself led his own life. I left simply because I saw no other choice.
Financial abuse is devastating to families. It instills fear of want. I ached to see my children long for that which I could not give them. It hurt, period.
Financial abuse comes in many forms. The abuser might control all the money. He might refuse to let his wife have a bank account or access to theirs. Perhaps he limits the amount of money she can spend on groceries–not in a “Let’s follow a budget” kind of way but in a “You’re not allowed to buy groceries” sort of fashion. The abuser might not let his wife and children see a doctor, buy clothes, or other essentials. He might refuse to work, get deep in debt, be careless with his money, gamble away food or rent money, and so on.
Now, obviously, not all of the above are necessarily abusive in and of themselves. It’s the intention behind the action, the accumulative effect of his actions, and the rejection of God’s command to provide for his family that makes it sinful and causes it to be abusive. Each case has to be looked at individually. You don’t want to accuse someone of abuse if, in fact, it isn’t. The man might just be really bad at handling his money, for instance.
My children and I endured rather extreme financial abuse. All that I listed above and more, my children and I endured. I don’t say this out of malice but because it’s true.
My husband often refused to let me see a doctor to have my thyroid checked when the time to do so rolled around. I’ve been hypothyroid since I was 13. Doing without your medicine is dangerous, affects all your organs, can harm your heart, and eventually could lead to death. Without being checked, I couldn’t get a refill. My thyroid has been “nearly dead” for a number of years and I rely on my meds to keep me functioning. Doing without had an extreme detrimental affect on me. One time in particular stands out. Three, then four, then five months went by. No doctor’s appointment, no meds. I swelled up all over; this is called a myxedema crisis. I couldn’t function. My body was shutting down. Finally, my husband relented. It’s dangerous to go without thyroid medication if you need it. I could have died.
Another time, he refused to let me see a doctor when I was experiencing extreme pain in my gut. It came and went and because it wasn’t constant, he believed I was making it up. I wanted to ask his mother, a nurse, about it and he threatened me if I did. Because I was afraid of him, I didn’t mention it to anyone. Finally after two years of suffering, it got so bad I mentioned it to my mother when I was around her and attack occurred. She immediately made an appointment for me with her internist. He scheduled me for gallbladder surgery the following day. After the surgery, he told my mother and my husband that my gallbladder was on the edge of becoming gangrenous.
He refused to let me and my children go to the dentist or the doctor, even if we needed to. When the oldest ones had been little, I’d been able to take them regularly. Then he switched jobs and refused to let me or them go. He wouldn’t let me use the car, kept the name of his insurance agent from me, and wouldn’t tell me what dentists (or doctors) we could use. I was afraid of him and I had no one to turn to for help.
When something would break, it simply wasn’t replaced–unless it was the TV. If his TV broke, it got replaced the same day. Or if it was something of his. Once my glasses and my son’s glasses broke just about the same time. One my husband wired, one he taped. “Make do,” he told us. Then, not too long after, his broke. The next day, he had a brand new pair in expensive frames.
He sold everything we had that was of any value, including my wedding rings. Through our marriage, he ran up bills totally well over $200,000. He filed bankruptcy three times. Was repeatedly fired. Lost our home to foreclosure. Lost a van to repossession. He’d often get angry when I needed groceries. He took birthday money, made me return gifts for cash, forced me to shut down the home businesses I’d try to run. When my children worked, he’d take all their money. Once he took my son’s ATM card, changed the PIN number and then refused to tell my son what it was. My son couldn’t get into his own account.
The last decade and a half we were with him, we lived in abject poverty most of the time.
And there’s more…
So very much more.
There’s many like me who live under the hard boot of financial abuse. Please learn about it so you can help those who suffer under it.
I left my husband for infidelity and because of his abuse. When we left him, we only had a couple of towels in the house. We’d been without a running vehicle for months (my husband had his truck, but nobody but him was allowed to drive it). My children and I literally had nothing. We’ve been trying to build a life and buy the things we need–little by little–ever since.
Starting over after financial abuse is hard. When you start with nothing, as we did, it’s a long hard road to stability. When you have a well bucket that’s been left out in the sun so that it’s bone dry, it takes a lot of water to saturate the bucket so you can actually fill it. This has been true for us.
If you have a moment to pray for me and my children, please do. The Lord has been so gracious to us and I cannot express my gratefulness. We work hard to provide for ourselves and we’ve made good progress. We’ve also had several setbacks. We’ve had several pieces of furniture that we were given give up the ghost. I had a thyroid storm and dangerously low sodium levels that put me in the hospital. I struggled with pneumonia for three months. My son’s had two on the job injuries that left him unable to work for extended periods. Right now, we’re awaiting the results of an MRI to see what the future holds for him and for us.
But we keep striving. My children and I are working to be able to afford to buy the clothes, shoes, household items, and even furniture we still need. To handle dental bills for fillings we’ve yet to get. For glasses. Now my cat needs to go to a vet for a skin condition. And so on, and so on.
But in plenty or in want, our Lord is good and so very worthy of our trust, our praise, and our worship.
The main reason women who are being abused don’t escape the abuse, even when it could be deadly, is lack of money to do so. Often, this is by design of the abuser. Please remember this and help those who need help, whether they are still with their abuser or trying their best to start from scratch afterwards.
Soli Deo Gloria!