Financial abuse coming up got me thinking some.
One of the big pieces of relationship advice my mom had for me was to quietly stash some money away every pay period, just in case I might need it later. Especially ending up way more financially dependent than I ever wanted, because disability.
Not that she ever really accepted that part, but hey. I hadn’t thought about it in those terms before, but I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the earlier experience there helped her keep pushing to stay working when she was just in no shape to. Thoroughly fouling up her SSDI eligibility in the process. (Tip: If you’re too disabled to keep it up and might need SSDI? File as early as you feasibly can, and don’t keep stopping and starting jobs. That can mess up your work credits but good within the specified time period. My mother learned that the hard way.)
But, I can see why she might have wanted to avoid being that vulnerable to abuse in general again.
She had planned on going back to work after I was born, but decided not to once her leave was up with some encouragement. They were pretty financially stable without her income by then, and I suspect some unacknowledged disability stuff made it look more tempting.
To make a long story short: Some existing abusive behavior out of my biodad escalated, after a while she got shut totally out of the household finances that she had been managing up to that point (because culture), and he eventually started getting all important mail sent to a PO box instead of the house. Nothing suspicious there, right?
Yeah, he went through huge amounts of money nobody could quite tell where it even went–including a bunch he’d borrowed without telling her, and/or in her name. He apparently got tens of thousands in “emergency” funds off my grandparents alone within the last couple of years, and she knew nothing about it until after the divorce. (They were also hardly rich starting out.) Gambling? Coke, given the time period and just basically his personality? Doesn’t really matter. He went through all their money, plus who knows how much more, in just a few years time. And got more and more abusive acting.
The end result was that he finally got the house foreclosed on, and she left the marriage penniless and with a really unfavorable settlement because she just wanted away from my biodad’s terrible behavior. (Kinda classic in abusive relationships even without the rest, but yeah.)
Plus of course a 6-year gap in her work history and some extra layers of mental health problems.
I can understand why she wouldn’t have wanted to end up in that kind of position again. Still doesn’t make some of pressure put on me over the years right, though. Besides the ableist denial, a lot of this stuff was very victim blamey. Just makes it sadder that she did also apply most of that to herself. Not a great way to live.
At any rate, I haven’t been following the advice to stash away an emergency fund. I did start out doing that, but stopped after maybe a year–and that mini-hoard got spent on expenses. Call me stupid if you like. I probably would, if a personal emergency fund should ever start looking like a good idea. Probably would have noticed some signs of that by now, but I could always be wrong.
Day: December 6, 2018
This Is What Financial Abuse Really Looks Like
Every time Lori bought groceries with a check, she would write it for an extra $5 to $10 and pocket the difference. At home, when no one was watching, she would stash the money inside tampon applicators in her bathroom where she hoped her abusive husband would never look. Each time she collected $100, she took those bills to a bank in the next town and exchanged it for $100 bill so the money would be easier to hide. After two years, she saved the $2,600 needed to hire an attorney and file for divorce.
“That was the longest two years of my life,” says Lori. “I lived in fear that he would kill me.”
Her instincts were right. After Lori filed for a divorce, her husband showed up at their shared home with a gun and plans to kill her, their six children, and then himself. Lori and the children weren’t home and, because of his actions, Lori was able to get an emergency personal protection order keeping her soon-to-be ex-husband away from her, her children, and their home.
That was almost 13 years ago. After leaving her husband, Lori worked two jobs, as a secretary and waitress, and eventually went back to school, earning a master’s degree in social work from the University of Michigan.
Lori, now 51, was a victim of financial abuse. She had no access to her family’s bank account or credit cards, her husband forbid her to work outside the home, and when she wanted to spend money, she needed to ask his permission. Lori tried to leave him several times, but she always went back because she couldn’t provide for herself and her six children independently.
Her story isn’t unusual. One in four U.S. women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime, according to the Center for Disease Control, and 99 percent of those victims will also experience financial abuse, according to the Center for Financial Security.
“Many people don’t recognize financial abuse right away, in part, because of historic gender roles,” says Sarah Gonzalez Bocinski, director of the Institute for Women’s Policy Research’s Economic Security for Survivors Project.
According to Bocinski, there are relatively clear ways to identify victims of abuse.
“These are very planned, deliberate acts that abusers do to limit victims and prevent them from breaking free,” says Bocinski.
One of the most common ways abusers control their victims is to build up debt in their name, without telling them, she says, because once you have large amounts of debt in your name or a low credit score, it can be difficult to rent an apartment and, in some cases, even get a job.
The ramifications of excessive debt and a low credit score can last longer than the effects of physical violence, says Dr. Judy Postmus, associate professor director of the Center on Violence Against Women and Children at Rutgers University. If your spouse knows your social security number and your mother’s maiden name, they can easily open up credit cards, a line of credit, or even a business in your name without you knowing about it.
“If someone is racking up debt in your name, when you get a divorce that debt is split 50-50,” she says. This is true even if you don’t know about the debt.
Leaving an abusive relationship is a real challenge for victims of financial abuse, says Katie Ray-Jones, CEO of the National Domestic Violence Hotline. When a woman reports financial abuse, it’s difficult to get the police involved, she says. There is no way for the victim to prove she didn’t open that credit card, or that isn’t her signature, or that her spouse wiped out the bank account.
And, because there aren’t any laws that focus on preventing financial abuse of an intimate partner, the topic hasn’t gained the attention of researchers, says Postmus. Most of what is known about financial abuse comes from survivor’s stories, not from large-scale national research, she adds.
Ray-Jones adds that many abuse victims report that their partners feel threatened and become more abusive when the victim begins to earn more money or gets promoted at work. In fact, victims have told her about opening a separate bank account when they get a raise and asking their employer to divert that money to a secret account. Victims have also asked their boss not to give them a raise. But there is no national research to show how widespread these tactics are or whether the violence increases as the victim gains more economic independence.
Several studies offer anecdotal evidence that abuse may increase as victims try to improve their economic status or employment prospects. For instance, a June 2016 study by Partners for a Competitive Workforce finds that intimidation and intimate partner violence can discourage enrollment and participation in education and training programs. Similarly, a National Resource Center on Domestic Violence study found that domestic violence typically escalates when a survivor enrolls in education or training.
However, Postmus says another theory is the abuse may decrease as the victim’s income goes up because the partner doesn’t want to lose the extra income. “The problem is we just don’t know,” she says.
“We often hear from women that finances are a way for partners to control, manipulate, coerce, and intimidate them,” says Ray-Jones. “A lot of women don’t leave the relationship because they fear being able to financially take care of their children.”
Both Postmus and Ray-Jones credit The Allstate Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Allstate Insurance Company, with bringing awareness to financial abuse 10 years ago with its Purple Purse program, aimed at helping financial abuse and domestic violence victims. A cornerstone of the program is an online financial curriculum,Moving Ahead Through Financial Management, which was developed specifically to help financial abuse victims leave their abusers, get out of debt, and restore their credit rating. To date, about 800,000 people have completed the course, which is available in English and Spanish.
In 2014, Allstate asked Rutgers University to conduct a study of 457 survivors who had completed the curriculum to validate the program was helping survivors, says Vicky Dinges, Allstate senior vice president of corporate relations. After completing the course, 90 percent learned to create a budget and 72 percent understood how to improve their credit rating, compared to 20 percent precurriculum. There was also an 18 percent increase in the number of survivors using a bank account after completing the course.
“It was important for us to know the curriculum was valuable for survivors,” Dinges says. “We wanted to work on a solution, not just put a Band-Aid on the problem.” The course encourages victims to take small steps towards leaving their abuser:
Postmus and Ray-Jones both agree more needs to be done to study the long-terms effects of financial abuse. For now, Ray-Jones says her organization shares anecdotal evidence with Congress, but that hasn’t been sufficient to get Congress to create laws against the financial abuse of an intimate partner.
Ideally, says Postmus, there should be a law that protects intimate partners from financial abuse. Last year, England changed its domestic violence and abuse law to recognize financial abuse, she says. Abusers in the United States should be held responsible for causing someone to jeopardize their financial status, says Postmus. As of now, one in four women is still a victim of intimate partner violence, which is more than the number of women diagnosed with breast, ovarian, and lung cancer combined.
Illustrations by Emily Lin and Addison Eaton
His kind of woman
I was also reminded of one actually pretty hilarious story. Where the context doesn’t start out as funny.
Anyway, when my biodad was pulling his stalking and harassment shit after the divorce, he was still afraid to lay a finger on her. But, he couldn’t resist running his mouth. And he could really come up with some vile shit.
So, my mom sometimes totally lost it, and made herself easy to paint as a Crazy Bitch. Knowing the people involved, this is not surprising in the least.
But, that worked a little differently on one occasion.
When he drove an hour again for the opportunity to harass her at home, just because. So, she went down to talk to him at the street rather than have him causing problems at the house in front of me.
So, he sat there behind the wheel of his car, and the conversation of course progressed to where he started cussing her and just generally saying vile stuff.
And she ended up taking the bait, lost it, and reached through the window to slam his head against the steering wheel. Bounced it off there several times. With the idea of shutting that horrible mouth.
Not the first time something like that happened, and not the last. But, he kept coming back and baiting her anyway.
He didn’t call the cops or anything (ever), so she didn’t think that much more of it.
Until she got a call from my uncle a couple of days later. He could barely talk for laughing.
Apparently, this guy Johnny he had gone through school with had oh-so-casually run into him, and asked if she were seeing anyone. And if my uncle thought she might be interested in going out with him.
Because Johnny lived across the street, and he had watched the whole thing. And she really seemed like his kind of woman!
She never went out with Johnny, though. And I don’t think the 5 or 6 year age difference was that relevant. Though I doubt she would have had the same set of troubles dealing with him… 🙂
I was also reminded of how someone doesn’t even need to be physically abusive to be a real piece of work. Especially after a relationship breaks up.
See also: PSA links: Abuse, and taking care of yourself
The post I was reminded of there doesn’t seem to be around anymore, and I can’t find a cached version. ( He didn’t lay a finger on me.) But, also highly recommended: “Why does she stay with that jerk?”, which also touches on that point.
My biodad did try to hit my mom once, a couple of months after they got married. They were arguing about something, and he swung at her. That was in the kitchen, so she pretty much reflexively picked up the closest thing: a big heavy stoneware mixing bowl. And broke it over his head.
She was also a good bit bigger than he was (as he kept getting nasty about), and she knew how to fight. He was afraid to try anything like that again.
He was also physically afraid of pretty much her whole family, for the same reasons. They just wouldn’t tolerate that shit, and he wasn’t a very popular guy after a while anyway, with the ways he would talk to people.
They stayed married for about 12 more years after that incident, until I was 6.
That didn’t mean that he wasn’t still abusive. He just had to get less blatant and sneakier with it…and save the physical abuse for people he thought he could get away with hitting.
(I didn’t get it until after the divorce, when she and other relatives who would have disapproved weren’t around. My stepbrother got a lot worse, on a regular basis, as a much safer target. I witnessed more bad stuff than I personally got there. The emotional abuse was still the huge problem. Probably for J. too.)
And that definitely doesn’t mean that the person can’t be dangerous, as discussed in one of the first links (here). They might actually be more dangerous, in a sneaky and more likely to get away with it sort of style.
In that particular case, he didn’t grow up in a household where any of that abusive behavior was treated as remotely acceptable. And his own family were shocked when they found out he was treating people that way. He still managed to pick it up somewhere. 😐
But yeah, it can be harder to recognize mainly verbal and other emotional abuse as Real Abuse. It’s a lot more obvious when somebody is beating on people they’re supposed to care about.
I also grew up hearing a lot of endorsement of the classic Iron Skillet Method of dealing with abusers. Not only does that often flip over into victim blaming, it doesn’t even necessarily work. Even if the person is afraid to lay a hand on you after that.
Very much like its companion, “Why didn’t you kick him in the balls?” victim blaming.
I really do wish it were that simple sometimes, to get abusive patterns of behavior stopped. It really isn’t.
You can bet I also learned to fight, and not to tolerate any attempts at physical violence. That doesn’t really help if you’re dealing with other types of abuse or predatory behavior.
(Also tying back in with another post from today: Ronin bouncers, and risk management)
I just want every cat tucked into bed to know that they are valid
I did it. I tucked in the Princess.
shitty-car-mods-daily DO NOT interact
Click here to support My Daughter’s Transplant Expenses organized by Kerry Renaissance
This is the October 2018 edition of this post, and hopefully the final version.
Dessie is now ten years old. Yay!! For the last two years, she’s held steady at 22% total kidney function, in Stage Four Chronic Kidney Disease. At her last nephrologist visit, her creatinine has gone up. She says she’s tired all the time.
We think she’s tipping over to Stage 5 CKD/End Stage Renal Disease. Her next visit to the nephrologist is in December, and I’m expecting to get the diagnosis then. If not, great! But I’m not hopeful.
I think we’ll need to make another trip to Seattle Chikdren’s Hospital then, so they can run their own labs and make her active on the deceased donor transplant list. Normally, I’ve been told by them, once a child is active on the last, they typically receive a donor kidney within six months to a year. So I think 2019 will be her year of the transplant. Possibly dialysis before then — I know her local nephrologist wants to avoid it if we can.
The transplant itself requires we stay in Seattle for three to four months, with frequent follow ups afterwards. (First every month, then every two months, then every three months.). Each trip by car takes 6.5-8 hours each way, and usually two tanks of gas. Special Mobilty Services can help with gas, and lodging, if we can give them two weeks notice.
The transplant will be a journey in every sense of the word. I would love it if this could be fully funded before then.
If you have a spare kidney and want to try to be her living donor, here’s the Donors need to between 21-45, in reasonably good health, and O+ blood type. No smoking or drinking alcohol, not even occasionally. If this is something you’re interested, please contact the University of Washington’s living donor program at 206-598-3627, and mention you’re interested in donating to Dessie McAdams. That begins the process.
I’m a single mom, with three kids. To deal with my hideous finances which have put us in the negative regularly since May of 2017, to get us back on our feet, we are moving in with my mother for at least the next year. Perhaps longer; she hasn’t put a deadline on it. I think I’m going to have to declare bankruptcy to get our from under, which will tank my already bad credit score. So I’m not sure of our prospects afterwards; if I could, I’d rather buy a place than rent, but even renting will be hard, with bad credit and high rents.
In the most immediate future, we need about $300-500 through October to either rent a dumpster or hire a junk hauling service to clear out the backyard, garage, and basement. There’s a lot of heavy stuff my mom and I can’t handle.
This move to my mom’s also gets us away from my ex and his family, and Imbin the process of getting the parenting agreement modified to supervised visitation. He molested Dessie, by her account, sometime while we were married, around when she was 4-5. (I reported it to CPS and the police as soon as I learned of this, but as it was some years after it occurred, there was no evidence and they did nothing).
He’s also verbally and emotionally abused all of us.
His family may decide to bring in a lawyer for him with the requested change in parenting plan; I don’t know.
I guess what I’m saying is, once we move we’ll be doing better than we have in a long while. But help is still needed. A miracle, even, if it could be so, to get us through her transplant and from there to a safe place to live independently. Please get this fully funded (or more) as soon as possible, if it can be done.
If you don’t want to use the GoFundMe, that’s fine. We also have
And CirclePay at email@example.com
If using these, please let me know who you are and if you’d like to be publicly thanked. Not all the apps are conducive to interactions, I’ve noticed.
We are incredibly grateful for all the help we’ve received through tumblr so far. You guys have literally helped keep us alive.
If you can’t donate, don’t worry about it. If you don’t want to, don’t bother me about it. Boosts and reblogs still help, though!
Here, have a cute pic of Dessie with a plush kidney a mutual sent her!
On 12/18/18 we’re going to see her nephrologist, where I fully expect to learn that she’s tipped into Chronic Kidney Disease, Stage Five/End Stage Renal Disease. Then I’m pretty sure we’ll need to make another trip to Seattle Children’s Hospital to activate her on their deceased donor list. (She’s on it, but st on-hold status).
As they prioritize children as donor recipients, typically once active in the list, a child receives a needed kidney within six months to one year. So it’s quite likely 2019 will be her kidney year.
If there’s any way we can get this fully funded before then, I don’t know how I’ll express the depth of my and my family’s gratitude.
LGBTQ asylum seekers are facing more battles than others
I’m planning to stick around here until further notice, at least.
But, if anyone wants to add me on Twitter, it’s @Urocyon
I haven’t been spending much time over there for a while, though that will likely change. If/when I get active accounts going elsewhere, I’ll try to update this. Please let me know in replies if you’d like tagged on that.
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