Financial Abuse - My story of Financial Frustration

On this topic, Where do I even start. Looking back, this was one of the craziest aspects of my marriage. Some of the things that happened were absolutely insane.

I never realized how much he lied to me. The most concrete evidence of this is in his financial dealings. The effects of financial abuse are extremely disorienting and can cause immense suffering. Your sense of security is undermined, and and the same time you are blamed for it. It is one of the tactics used to ensure you cannot escape. It all becomes very confusing and frustrating. No matter what you do, your wrong, its your fault. For me, it was an attack at the base level of my core of stability and self worth.

Financial security has always been something that is really important to me. I swore I would never be like my parents. My parents always made really good money, but they never had any. Life was a constant stream of bill collectors financial stress. Of course, they could always afford cigarettes and to indulge in their whims. But, in our house kids were not a priority, so we could and often did go without.

I swore to myself, that is not the way my adult life was going to go. I was going to manage my money, pay my bills and always make sure my family had all their needs met. This is definitely one of my core needs. When I met him, he seemed to be financially healthy. He seemed to have lots of cash, had a nice truck, a good job and lived in a respectable home. So, no alarm bells were going off. Unfortunately, I don't believe at any time during our 27 year union we were ever secure. In spite of the fact that we both were fairly high income earners, we were also broke. We were never able to save, and we couldn't do the things we wanted to do. Or more accurately, I couldn't do the things I wanted to do, like travel.

He had some weird ideas that in retrospect I should have been wondering about. But it wasn't my money, so why worry about it. (I admit I was stupid) For example, he told me that creditors don't care if you make the minimum payments as long as they get paid off eventually. hmmm pretty sure that's not true. I remember a specific, time, he had a Sears credit card. He had been carrying a balance on it. Instead of paying the minimums, he saved up the money to pay it off in total. Once had done this, he went in the office to pay it off. This took him 6 or 7 months. I remember him, going off and he returned he appearing completely shocked. They had taken his card and chopped it up, and closed out his account. He was stunned, he didn't understand why they would do that.

There was just this theme of wasteful consumption. A lack of respect for resources. , he would often throw out perfectly good items. Every time he was away more than a few days (which at the time was every other week) he would empty everything out of the fridge. By everything I mean, steak sauce, ketchup, soya sauce butter etc. Every week we had to replace all the staples. It wasn't until I lost it because he had thrown out my steak sauce I had already replaced 5 times that this habit finally stopped. But I had to think how much money went in the garbage. Another example, His father had given him a 5000 dollar watch, he wore it to work, where he worked with slurry and mud. The watch ended up being destroyed. He did the same thing with clothes. He would always insist on buying really expensive jeans and without fail he would wear them to work and destroy them. Though he was the one destroying his stuff, somehow he made this my responsibility. I would be really interested if other people had this experience with your partners.

He would hold me responsible when he didn't have what he wanted. He would sneer at me and complain constantly, "I don't have any clothes, I dont have any jeans" And he would be angry at me because there wasn't enough money to be buying him 100 dollar jeans every couple months. According to him this was due to my frivolous spending, not because he would quickly destroy anything clothing I purchased for him. (he never bought his own clothes, he expected me to do this, what ever he wanted should magically appear in his drawer, but that is a different topic)

Living with him was just a never ending cycle of hardship. When I first met him, I was a student, I didn't have any money of my own. But as time went on, I did have my own money. I dutifully handed over to him. After all, he was the smart one. At that time I willingly submitted to him. But after a few years, I noticed we were never getting ahead. We both made pretty decent money it was not making any sense to me. Why were were always broke? With the incomes we had, there should be no problem. Our credit rating was terrible, and we were constantly struggling. My stove broke one year, and it was a year before I could replace it. I was using a hot plate for a year. That's actually crazy, I was making 60 grand a year at the time, and we can't afford a new stove?

He would make major unilateral decisions about our finances without consulting me. At one point, the government went after him because he had not paid his child support for several years. I didn't know about this, I thought he had taken steps to have it reduced and it was resolved. (Long story) but anyway, when they called him. Without talking to me at all he agreed to pay 800 dollars a month to catch up. This was our entire disposable income. He did not take into account hair cuts, groceries or gas. He had simply figured out the mortgage and bills and what ever was left he committed to his payment. He told me it was only for 18 months. But it turned out to last a lot longer than that. It showed the lack of respect of the effect of his decisions on me.

He had committed all of our available resources to take care of his responsibilities without even talking to me first. He didn't tell me about it until after the agreement was signed and done. I always had to deal with the consequences of his decisions. The odd thing is, I never really questioned it. I would be mad for a little while, but then I would just buckle down and deal with it. I never recognized how incredibly disrespectful this type of behaviour was, and how unfair it was to me. I was getting hammered twice, once by having to live with the great financial pressure and twice by him verbally assaulting me and berating me for being responsible for the position we were in.

Money just kept disappearing with no explanation. There was a large portion of money disappearing into the abyss. One day I sat down and I figured out what half the bills would cost, and I gave him exactly half. The rest I kept. This lasted for about 2 months, then he decided I could handle the finances.

He would run up debt and expect me to deal with it. This is where the real financial abuse started. On on hand, everything pretty much instantly got better. Our credit rating was rehabilitated because I made sure all the bills were paid on time. I was working diligently to pay off the mountain of debt that had been accumulated. I created a budget and a debt payment plan. It seemed completely paying off our debt was always two or three years away. While I was paying off debt, we definitely had some cash flow issues. There was a reoccurring pattern that would happen.

I would be making payments, making progress and without fail just as we were almost there I would find out about a secret debt he would have at an outrageous interest rate. It was always a catch 22. Because we were married I was also responsible for it. Because he was unable to pay it himself, someone had to deal with it. I couldn't ignore it because the ramifications affected both of us.

Every time he would swear it was the last time it would never happen again. With trepidation, I would pay the debt, it would go into my name (because I had the better credit rating and the lower interest rates) then magically it was all my debt. Suddenly he forgot that I had paid off his debt. It was my fault we were in debt up to my eyeballs. When it came time to pay the bills, and he wanted to know why there wasn't more cash flow I would tell him, I had to pay towards the debts. He would scream at me about how I was wasting all his money on MY debt. So the debt was mine, but the cash was his.

One of the aspects of financial abuse, is your partner runs up debt and expects you to deal with it. And if you can't deal with it your held responsible. YOU DID THIS! I was constantly getting berated because he couldn't have what he wanted RIGHT NOW!! The debt was all mine according to him. I found out later that he had in fact had a series of loans from CITY financial. He carried one of these loans for 4 years. He had borrowed 10,000 dollars and was paying 700 dollars month in payments. But at the end of the 4 years, he still owed 10,000 dollars. I don't know how that interest was getting calculated but he had paid 33,000 for 10,000. No wonder we were always broke.

Sometimes I would try and rearrange the debt to take advantage of lower interest and get it paid off faster. I would need his co-operation with that since all the debt was in my name, I needed him as a co-applicant because my debt ratio was artificially high. He would refuse. He would angrily say to me "You dont get out of debt by getting more debt" I would ask him, then how do you deal with it "YOU JUST PAY IT" He never would actually look at the numbers or participate in any plan. JUST FIX IT CAROLYNNE YOU STUPID BITCH. You can't do anything your such an idiot, you don't know what your doing!!! I felt helpless, powerless, but like a fool I kept trying to right the ship.

There were other things that would happen, constantly taking 20 dollar cash advances off the credit card. He would do this 3 or 4 times a day sometimes. Each time he did it, I got charged 7.50 in fees. when I would ask about it he would rage at me and tell me what a fucking idiot I was and that I was a controlling bitch. He was going to do what ever he wanted to do.

He would mock me for my attempts at trying to be thrifty. In our barn we had a gym set up. It was in no way insulated, with huge holes leading directly to the outside and uninsulated walls. He would keep the heater on in there all winter. Once in January, I turned the heat down a bit (he had it on full blast) When he noticed he blew a gasket. He said "I want a warm gym! I am not going to put up with the cold because YOY WANT TO SAVE A LITTLE BIT OF MONEY!!" (Stupid bitch was implied here) Anyway a month later we got the hydro bill, 2000 dollars for one month. This type of financial sabotage seemed to be never ending. He also did crazy things like getting the bills in the mail, and just filing them for taxes, not telling me we had gotten any bills. One time I got a call from Hydro telling me we were about to be cut off and they needed immediate payment plus a security deposit. I didn't even realize there had been an invoice. I asked him about it, and it turned out the bills were in his file cabinet. I told him he has to let me know when them come in. He screamed at me "YOU SHOULD KNOW WE GET A HYDRO BILL EVERY TWO MONTHS AND PAY IT" of course I was an idiot. I am supposed to just know what needs to be paid and how much. He raged at me about this. It was a constant cycle of being put into an impossible position and then being attacked when I failed to live up to expectations.

I would try to show him the budget. I would try to including him in the planning so that he could buy what he needed, and we could still pay off the debt and have savings. He absolutely refused. He didn't want to hear about a budget. He wanted to buy what ever he wanted when he wanted to, and my job was to make sure that happened. He felt that money should just be available at all times. If it wasn't then I was the problem. I was wasting his money.

He would nit pick over small purchases. Once I bought a 4 dollar white board at the dollar store. I bought it so the kids could write grocery items they wanted on it. I was trying to only buy what we needed instead of stocking a virtual grocery store in our home. I heard about that 4 dollar white board more times than I care to remember. He raged to me about it. Told me about how I bought junk and this is why we were broke. Even just thinking about this right now is stressing me. My ears feel the pounding of the verbal assault. It feels like being punched. This is one of the after affects. I still feel the pounding. The fear and intimidation have weakened but its still there. I have not been able to put that behind me yet, I still suffer from those after affects.

Having secret debt - One time, I came home I found a demand letter for 20,000 dollars in my mail box. Usually my ex made sure to get the mail before I did, this was a rare occasion. As it happened, I had a very large retro payment coming from work, I was able to pay it. But money I had different plans for was gone in an instant. This happened over and over. I had received several large payments over the years for different reasons, they disappeared into that black hole.

In this whole dynamic, he always made it seem like I was living off him. I contributed nothing to the household. He was paying for everything. This had long since ceased to be true. The fact is I make significantly more money than him, and I had been for years. In fact, it was me carrying him. One of the benefits of the divorce is I actually get to enjoy my money. I can do things now I never was able to do before. I wish I would have known, I would have left years ago.

I don't know if they do this on purpose, but one of the effects of financial instability, is it keeps you stuck. I was so focused on keeping all the balls in the air I wasn't really taking an objective look at what was really happening. It wasn't until the lawyer sat me down and told me "you will be fine" that I realized I would be better off on my own financially. I really thought I needed him. That was actually delusional thinking on my part. I didn't need him at all. In fact he was like an anchor around my neck. Getting free of him made all the difference. I have savings now, I can travel. I can actually enjoy my life and the fruits of my labour. Its beautiful!

There are some really good tools to use to help yourself get financially organized. My favorite is an app called You need a budget. YNAB. There is a book that explains their philosophy and I find it works really really well. Getting your financial picture sorted takes time, but one day at a time and you can get there.

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