To all our HerMoney listeners, we hope that you are doing well, staying safe, and feeling empowered — not only with your money, but in all areas of your life.
This week’s episode tackles the sensitive and important topic of financial abuse, which may be difficult for some. This episode is dedicated to ensuring that all our listeners are able to get to a safe and secure place with their money — including those who may be facing, or who have faced, financial abuse.
When you hear the term “abuse,” perhaps you have an image in your mind of domestic abuse — one that’s physical or verbal. And these forms of abuse can absolutely be related — controlling a partner’s finances is one of the most effective ways of keeping someone trapped and powerless in a relationship. But when financial abuse is happening, it’s not always easy to identify, because it can look different in every relationship. In some cases, the abuser may deny their victim access to income, or monitor every penny spent. In other cases, the abuser may limit their partner’s access to information about the family’s finances, may sabotage their jobs and prevent them from working, or may coerce them into taking out loans or credit cards.
In a domestic violence survey from Mary Kay, three out of four victims said they stayed with their abusers longer for economic reasons. Nearly 70% of millennial women say they have experienced financial abuse by a romantic partner, and a staggering 99% of people in abusive relationships experience financial abuse, according to the National Network to End Domestic Violence. Financial reasons are often cited by victims of abuse as the main reason that they stayed with or returned to an abusive partner.
To help us walk through this important topic this week is Katie Hood, CEO of The One Love Foundation, a nonprofit devoted to educating young people on healthy and unhealthy relationships, and preventing relationship abuse. One Love’s award-winning film-based, peer-to-peer educational workshops have reached more than 1.5 million young people in-person, and over 100 million people have engaged with One Love’s educational campaigns online. Previously, Katie previously served as CEO of the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, and received her MBA from Harvard Business School.
And we’re also so honored to be joined by a woman who bravely shares her personal story of the financial abuse that she endured, and was eventually able to escape from. Her name is Rebecca, and to protect her anonymity, you’ll notice that we stick with her first name only throughout the show.
Listen in as we talk about what financial abuse really is, and why it can be so difficult to identify. To that end, we discuss how best you can help a friend who you suspect may be suffering from financial abuse. “There’s a dance you do as a friend, when you lean in and lean out. Where you give them the room to do it on their own,” Katie explains.
Rebecca walks us through the specific steps she took to remove herself from her situation, and get back on a better path financially. (She says she is doing well today!) She discusses the help she received from friends, her attorney, her church, and her former boss, and how she was able to stay strong throughout the process. She also discusses the manipulative techniques that her ex used to take away her financial autonomy — he would sabotage her jobs, and insisted that the money she earned was his.
“Not having that autonomy with finances meant that I really had nothing,” Rebecca says. “And I totally understand why so many women go back [to abusive partners] because of the finances, simply because there is nothing.”
We also discuss how we can identify warning signs early on in our relationships, and have the kinds of conversations up front that can help us determine how our partners might handle certain situations, and what their expectations are for a 50/50, loving and equal partnership.
We are so grateful to Katie and Rebecca for joining us for this impactful show. Please keep an eye out for our bonus Mailbag that will be posting later this week.