Today, I’m going to go into detail about a very bad, physically abusive episode that was caused from financial abuse. This is a topic I think most people aren’t aware happens with domestic violence, because finances are something that even non-abusive couples fight about. When an abuser is trying to control his victim, financial abuse is a very easy way for them to make you feel vulnerable and trapped, and assert control over you. Even when I experienced it myself, I didn’t think, “hey, he’s financially abusing me”. It was a slow, ongoing process that I didn’t truly recognize until I started becoming educated on domestic violence after I left the relationship.
When we moved away from my homestate to Big City, I left a decent job (especially for only being 18) as a Small Business Loan Processor at a bank. I made decent money, worked full-time and had the freedom to pay my own bills and to buy what I wanted. When we moved across the country I had a hard time finding a similar type of job. The job market in Illinois was not good. The first job that I was able to get was a Sales Associate at Aeropostale. It was not ideal, only paid minimum wage, and I just hate working retail. DVP found a job doing armed security for various companies, but it wasn’t much money and the cost of living was much higher than where I was from.
Because I was basically making nothing, we had to get a joint bank account. DVP had saved around $6,000 from his military deployment, which is easy to do since it’s tax free and you get hazard pay and whatnot. Since we lived with his mom rent free, we only had two car payments, insurance and two credit cards to pay on. We could have been okay if DVP hadn’t spent all of the $6000 in ONE MONTH. Here’s another way to notice warning signs: it’s all about extremes with an abuser. If you feel a behavior of any category is extreme, be on your guard.
So here’s how the $6000 got spent: We would go out and do fun, but stupid, things Downtown. Some of the really nice hotels in this big city can be expensive per night. He/we, on two different occasions, gathered his friends and stayed at The Drake and The Palomar. These are not cheap hotels! We spent a lot of money on a Penthouse Suite at the Palomar. The Drake has hosted U.S. Presidents and other VIP’s. The silverware is real silver. It’s just a really nice, classy place to stay. Not only did he spend lots of money on the rooms for all of his friends, but he’d supply the alcohol and yes, weed for all his friends. They’d get drunk and high and wander around the city.
He’d also go to the casino a lot and blow hundreds of dollars. Constantly blew money on weed. He bought a lot of things like electronics we really didn’t need. I am guilty of having spent money too, on clothes, so I’m not saying all the fault is on him. It’s easy to fall into the spending habit when you’re with a spender. But, where the fault comes is how he treated me after the money was gone. I never dreamed that once the money was gone, that was it, and from then on any financial security was to be my responsibility alone.
His financial double standards and domineering started up right away. At Aeropostale, obviously I was required to wear their clothing while at work. So every month, through the company we’d get two outfits for really cheap to help employees out with this. I’d buy the outfits and DVP would be furious. He’d tell me I wasn’t allowed to spend more money or threaten to take my debit card away from me. He’d make me feel extremely guilty for buying anything for myself if it didn’t mutually benefit him. His mom actually took my side on this, and after that, he threw up his hands and said that from that point on, I’d be in charge of the finances.
He wasn’t kidding. That was during the first few months of living together-within the first year of our relationship- and I did the ALL of the finances for the rest of the 6 years we were together. Here’s where things went really bad. He refused to put anything in his name but his own car. I had to take care of the electricity, the cable, the cell phones, our rent (when we eventually had our own place), the groceries, natural gas bill… everything. If we needed to call about something, like a missed payment or if the cable wouldn’t work, he would insist that I take care of it. If I would ever ask him to make a call or pay a bill, he would flatly refuse. There were times that we needed to call about the few things that were in his name and the company would refuse to talk to me because I was not on the account, but he still wouldn’t do it. He wouldn’t take responsibility for any of it. We were constantly paying hundreds of dollars on late fees for stupid things like parking tickets that he had gotten and ignored. He didn’t want to spend the money on parking permits (or was too lazy to go through the process of getting one) so he would just keep getting tickets and not pay them until we had collections after us all the time.
Let’s fast forward to last year. We’d been married for three years. When I became full-time in the military and started making good money, he decided to stop trying to get a good job. He decided he’d just let me be his “sugar momma”, and spent most of his time home playing video games (and not helping around the house or cooking or doing ANYTHING productive to help out) while I worked full time and did all the grocery shopping, cooking cleaning, laundry, and finances. He would spend money even when we had nothing to spend. When we moved back to my home state he didn’t have a job for two months. We were in the negative at least $800/month because I couldn’t pay all of our bills. When we would have a small amount in our bank account, like $20 to last a whole week, he’d continue to spend money on chewing tobacco, which is $5 per can several times a week, buying marajuana, eating out because he wouldn’t cook for himself, etc. If there was nothing in the account he would put fast food and tobacco on a credit card. I would be so stressed about finances and beg him not to spend money, but he would anyway.
I eventually had to ask my parents for some groceries from their pantry, and use resources in the military to get free food and a small grant from the VA just to pay my bills. It was so embarrassing to go to my bosses about my financial situation, especially when my husband didn’t care at all.
Two of the most recent, bad fights I can remember (there’s a lot that happened to me that I just can’t remember anymore because it happened so often they’ve blended together) that resulted in physical abuse because of finances. One of these was actually what finally caused me to call the police for the abuse. Last February, a year ago now, I was begging him to look for a job. He immediately told me to leave it alone, but I couldn’t. I just couldn’t let him keep spending money and lose our cars and apartment because I couldn’t afford everything on one income, especially with his spending habits.
The argument escalated quickly. While I describe all of this, keep in mind that I was 12 weeks pregnant, and he knew I was. I was sitting on the couch, calmly trying to explain my frustration, and he snapped. He rushed towards me, grabbed me by my hair, and started dragging me up the stairs. I started screaming-it really hurt and I knew something bad was coming. He put his hand on my mouth and warned me that I had better stop screaming so the neighbors wouldn’t hear or he’d MAKE me stop. When we got to our bedroom, he trapped me into a corner and yelled and yelled. I pulled out my phone to text my mom for help and he took it away. I wanted to run out of the room, but he blocked the door and threw me on the bed, where he proceeded to slap me across the face, pull my hair, punch me on the arm, and pinned me down while he choked me to the point where I was seeing black spots. I was bawling at this point and he held his hand up to harm me again if I didn’t “shut the f*** up”. He saw me looking at the door and stood between the door and bed and threw my phone farther away from me. After he forced me to apologize for telling him to get a job, he went downstairs and played video games. I started packing a bag but I knew he was not going to let me leave so I went to bed. I couldn’t stand lying next to him all night long after what he had done. After work the next day, I went to my mom’s and we called the police . I wish I could say that I left him then, but I wouldn’t leave him for another 8 months.
A few weeks later, he finally got a job because I had filled out tons of job applications for him whether he wanted me to or not. If I hadn’t, he would never have had a job. His new employer gave him the choice of direct deposit or a debit card they would put his income on. He chose the debit card (of course he did, because he knew I would not have access to it without his allowing it!) and he promised he would take the money off the card to put in our joint account account. I told him that if he was going to do that, we might as well do direct deposit because I just knew I’d be the one who’d constantly have to take the money off the card (and that’s exactly what happened).
So while we are arguing over this we were in the car and I was driving. When I expressed my opinion about the direct deposit he got extremely angry. He repeatedly hit my dashboard and pulled on the emergency brake while I drove. I pulled to the nearest parking lot, which happened to be the mall, out of fear for my life. I parked the car and he took everything out of my glove box and threw it out the window. When I got out to pick it up, he climbed to the other seat and drove off. When he came back, I begged for my car. We were making a huge scene and it was so embarrassing. It would have continued until a bystander threatened to call the police. (Oh how I wish he had, in retrospect!) My ex threatened for me to get in the car or he’d divorce me, so I got in and we sped off before the cops could come. When I got in the car he slapped me across the face and we went home.
The point of all this, is that our arguments about finances would always start out small. But it would always end up so bad that he physically attacked me. He would often choke me so bad he could have killed me and/or my unborn child.
Financial tactics abusers use: not allowing you to have an income, controlling what you spend, ruining your credit by putting everything in your name, not getting a job, spending everything you have, giving you an “allowance”, etc. Don’t take this lightly. As you can see, even financial abuse can lead to harmful and even fatal physical abuse.