#52SlicesOfChingonaLife2020 #FridayFinanzasChingonas #52EssaysNextWave2020 3/52
Financial Abuse is the unauthorized (or illegal) use of a person’s property, money, pension and/or other valuables and is a common tactic used by abusers to gain power and control. The forms may be subtle or overt but generally include tactics to control one’s ability to acquire, use, and maintain money by limiting the victim’s access to assets or finances. This pattern of controlling, degrading or threatening behavior restricts a victim’s freedom and this silent form of abuse is not easily recognized. It begins with small offenses that slowly become more controlling over time.
What happens when you are in a financial abuse situation? It leads to unexplained bank withdrawals, unusual activity in bank accounts, unpaid bills, unexplained shortages of money, fraud, theft, reluctance on the part of the person responsible for the funds to provide basic food, clothes, and life necessities.
I had experienced almost all the above and yet was stunned to find that I was a victim of Financial Abuse. Me? No way. I thought that the counselor was straight-up crazy for even mentioning the subject. I had been under so much distress from just trying to keep things together that I fell into the Financial Abuse trap. Regular readers know that I was desperately trying to control the madness that this cyber/stalking individual was bringing to my life thus I asked him how much it would take for him to stop calling my job(s) and emailing/texting folks in my life.
I remember almost screaming that I needed to be 100 percent for my job, that I had to be confident to deal with clients, and I needed to make this problem go away. I’m sitting there thinking that one thing had nothing to do with the other. Spending that money almost felt like it didn’t matter, it was hush money, it was money meant to keep him from calling or emailing my place(s) of business, to stop harassing my family, friends and colleagues. That money was a quick fix and it soon became apparent that it would never be enough. I lived my life between looking over my shoulder to looking down, I had lost my power.
I’m trying to remember what the breaking point was, what it took for me to take that deep breath and say “no more”, that second where I knew that, no matter what, I had to get out of that situation, no matter what, that whatever he would do or say didn’t matter anymore. All I remember thinking (and saying in therapy), that God couldn’t have brought be all this way…for me to not do my part, to just let go and let Him help me.
Hardest letting go of my life. Stopping payment could prove dangerous, he could become unglued and come after me, he could continue to make my life a living hell. Then again, I thought “let him”, there was nothing else that he could say about me, my reputation, my body, my person, my intelligence, my professionalism, nothing that he had not already said and here I was, STILL working, still getting a paycheck.
And yes, things got crazier, thankfully, all my employers knew what I was dealing with, so, as humiliated as I was, life moved on. I had to change jobs FOUR times trying to escape the madness. That any bills got paid at all was nothing short of a miracle and incredibly, I pretty much kept things on track.
Or so I thought.
All the drama was over, and I was left with collateral damages. I was so grateful that things were settling down that I neglected to go thru all the broken financial parts. I had the money but I didn’t count on the fact that I had lost complete trust in myself, that on a certain level, during the crisis, I shut down on the taking care of my business part, and I stopped counseling when I changed jobs and cities.
Fast forward a few years…and here I am…
I have got to learn how to take care of myself again. I have got to learn how to live with less because I now make less, I have got to stop blaming him for the fact that I am in arrears with some of the bills. Yes, the neglect of my finances started with me trying to survive, to get through the day. However, now it’s time to take care of myself the right way, to stop thinking that I don’t matter, that my accounts don’t matter. It feels like I’ve got to put my head down, not out of shame, but in just doing whatever I need to do to face the broken financial pieces of my life and put them behind me. Dealing with money is stressful as it is, dealing with the remnants of financial abuse is scary AF.
I talk a good game about ‘knowing your worth’, now it will take everything I’ve got to remember how much I actually DO matter, how l must literally break out the books, crunch those numbers, lose that fear and learn how much I’m actually worth.
And go from there.
I want my power (and money) back.