I am in the process of completing my book ‘Domestic Violence, Changing Culture, Saving Lives’ and I need to add content about financial abuse. When I am adding content to my book, before writing first I look back on other articles to see if I have covered this information before.

I was more than a little surprised to find that I had not written about financial abuse, given it has had such a significant impact on my life.

My Big Why

My big professional WHY behind what I do is to create work environments which have a culture of empathy and understanding to ensure women’s financial stability through continued employment whilst they deal with the impact of domestic violence.

I spent the morning pondering why I haven’t written about this and I realise why this is so difficult for me to write about.

I talk about my past

When I discuss the other forms of abuse I was subjected to they are in the past. I am no longer physically, sexually, psychologically or verbally abused in my daily life. I have spent years healing from this. So, I can write from the perspective of this being my past.

Whilst it can be triggering and I make self-care a priority I am no longer impacted by those forms of abuse directly.

Financial abuse still impacts my life

I cannot say the same for financial abuse, as this never ends and is the reason why I am so passionate about doing all I can to ensure the financial security of others.

But pull back the curtain on my life and you will see a life still very much impacted by financial abuse. In my relationship, I lost everything and left with very few possessions, $33.00 and thousands worth of debt.

Sexually Transmitted Debt

This is often referred to as ‘Sexually Transmitted Debt’ which is an expression I personally loathe. There are too many connotations about sexually transmitted diseases being the fault of women who are perceived in a negative light due to their sexual activity. I do not hold with this view, but that doesn’t mean it does not exist. Which is why I find this term at best unhelpful.

It is a long climb out of poverty

When I left had two very young children to care for and heal, no money and even fewer opportunities. I have created opportunities, I have worked hard, but the climb out of poverty is not an easy one. And if I am honest I am still climbing and my children’s long-term financial future is my personal WHY!

Financial abuse increases the dynamic of dependence between an abuser and their partner. The partner often has:

  • No access to money
  • No control over the finances
  • Is blamed for any debt
  • Is given all control over the money and bills but no access to funds, meaning all their money is gone on basics and are forced to take out loans to maintain their lifestyle.
  • Forced to take out loans to cover basics due to the lack of access to money.

In my own relationship, this played out in my being completely dependent on my partner. I had no access to money and therefore I could see no way out. I felt trapped in this never-ending cycle of poverty and abuse.

But to the outside world it looked like I had it all, it was a lie, it was all smoke and mirrors.

Still, today I often receive no child support. So I am left trying to support my children financially, alone. Which given the cost of living is no small feat?

Financial freedom creates opportunities

I am left with choices of investing in my business in order for it to grow or my children’s needs. Which, even with my level of understanding about the dynamics of abuse can leave me with a sense of shame which is paralysing.

The impact of financial abuse is far-reaching and can take decades to overcome. Which is why it so important businesses step up an ensure their staff is trained and truly understand how to create an environment of where employees feel safe to reach out for help and importantly know who to reach out too.

Imagine the impact if they reach out and disclose to an abuser!

Is your domestic violence training safe?

Lisa McAdams

About Lisa: Lisa is a survivor of domestic violence who shares her story openly; along with knowledge and understanding of abuse and her experience from her time in corporate to help companies develop an organisational culture of empathy and understanding.

She helps by bringing insights on this complex and emotional subject, ensuring managers understand the issue, the signs and how to communicate with those impacted by domestic violence.

Lisa is passionate about educating workplaces so they can ensure women in abusive relationships remain in the workplace. Because employment improves outcomes and can ultimately save lives.

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