It is an all too familiar story.
A woman marries the man she believes to be the love of her life, and the two become husband and wife. The wife has a blooming career, as does her husband. Eventually, they decide to start a family, and it simply makes more sense for the woman to quit her job. Perhaps she makes a little less, or perhaps not. Either way, the man cannot leave his job. He simply has “too many opportunities” ahead of him.
The wife/mother goes years and years without working. Her skills are no longer relevant, nor is her education or prior experience. If something happens or her partner is abusive, she cannot simply walk out the door because she is no longer self-sufficient.
This scenario is simply one way that a woman loses financial independence. In reality, there are so many other ways that manipulators gain monetary control.
The woman becomes the sole provider.
Years ago, my friend was married to her (now) ex-husband, who decided to stop working so that he could pursue his creative pursuits. My friend was in constant panic, trying to ensure they didn’t lose their apartment and had meals on the table. There would be weeks when she had to make $20 for the entire seven days because it was all they had.
In those circumstances, living becomes about survival, not being able to see the bigger picture. By making my friend the sole provider, her abuser could sit back and have numerous accounts of infidelity while she kept them afloat.
Eventually, she got out of the situation and had family that could help her get back on her feet. Others are not as lucky and do not have any fallback plan.
The woman believes that her partner can be fully trusted with their finances.
I wish I could tell you that we should be able to put our trust solely in our partner. After all, in many cases, our partners CAN be trusted. However, by allowing the man in the relationship to handle the finances, the woman gives up all knowledge of what is happening.
Women are often caregivers and trusting in nature. All too often, that kindness is taken advantage of.
Don’t be naive and assume that your partner is “handling” the finances perfectly. Both parties should be equally involved and, in my opinion, always have their own separate savings/bank account.
The woman is told that she no longer “needs” to work
Women are often pushed out of employment to the point where they cannot provide for their families and depend on their abusers. The show “Maid” (based on a true story) perfectly depicts this scenario.
The main character (Alex) continually falls back into her abusive relationship, and at one point her abuser sabotages her job and says that he will take care of her and their daughter. The cycle of abuse begins again shortly after, and Alex feels she has no choice but to stay.
In a loving and trusting partnership, two partners can agree that one will be the primary provider. However, in relationships with financial abuse, the manipulator will utilize their partner’s lack of income to gain complete control of everything they do.
How can a woman begin her escape?
Escaping financial control is incredibly difficult and one of the primary reasons women stay with their abusers. The task of breaking free, starting over, and regaining financial power can feel completely overwhelming.
As a reminder, some shelters help women in these situations, and various online resources to help you regain control of your finances.
You are not stupid and do not deserve what has happened to you. Trust was given to someone who misused and abused and utilized it for control and manipulation. As you pick up the pieces, guard your finances and remember that you should never give anyone complete and total control of any part of your life or well-being.