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How I Escaped Financial Abuse
by Tonya Rapley
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November 6, 2018

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How I Escaped Financial Abuse

Women are suffering and surviving in silence, ashamed of their past. We tell ourselves we are weak if we’ve been in an abusive relationship. That couldn’t be further from the truth.

 

Four years ago, I shared my story of financial and physical abuse because of the silence that exists about this matter in our community. Women are suffering and surviving in silence, ashamed of their past. We tell ourselves we are weak if we’ve been in an abusive relationship. That couldn’t be further from the truth.

Tonya Rapley of My Fab Finance
Finance Expert Tonya Rapley

For a long time, I was extremely hard on myself, because unlike what I considered a typical survivor, I came from a middle-class, two-parent home.  My parents were committed to being great parents with the goal of rearing two strong, intelligent women and that’s exactly what my childhood entailed. I was a proud, confident military child with the ability to make new friends and was that kid everyone’s parents didn’t mind having around in hopes my manners would rub off on their children. In the absence of excuses, I considered what happened to me, to be my fault.

You never believe that it will happen to you. In retrospect, he had issues written all over him, but at the time he was something different from what I usually dated, and that excited me.

The relationship was a series of terrible firsts. I will not go into all of the violent incidents, but it was the first time in my life I had my breath taken away from a punch to the stomach, it was the first time I ever had a loaded gun pulled on me, it was the first time I was choked until I was nearly unconscious, and the first time I received stitches (a result from a blow to my head which resulted in a permanent scar in my right brow). He began isolating me from my friends and family. In retrospect, I believe I stayed because I believed in his ability to be a better person. I wanted to help him out of his darkness, but instead he was pulling me into it.

Along with physical abuse came economic abuse. He basically refused to work. So the bills ended up falling on me. Being someone who believes in integrity and paying what I owe, I worked my ass off to keep us afloat. I took a job selling cars because the opportunity to make money was much better than other options available to me at the time. My entire income went to housing, groceries, and activities that he approved of. All of my money was spent staying afloat, and I didn’t have excess to put away for my escape. He also began stealing money from me.

Financial abuse doesn’t look the same for everyone, but in my case, I was so in debt and financially overextended that I didn’t have the resources needed to escape him.

I was able to leave thanks to my family who did not give up on me and helped me when I needed them most despite being estranged from them for months leading up to my escape. Once I got to my parent’s house I changed all of my contact information.

Cleaning up the mess from this abusive situation greatly contributed to me becoming a financial professional and starting MyFabFinance.com. I realize that so many people give away their power because of less than ideal financial situations, and I want people – women, in particular – to be financially whole and confident. I also want to empower people with options. When you have options, you’re less likely to remain in situations that no longer serve you or are harmful to your well being.

Signs of financial abuse include:

  1. Financial accounts that should be available to the both of you are hard to access.
  2. Sabotages employment or education opportunities.
  3. Uses an allowance or money to control your freedom and access to resources.
  4. Refuses to allow you to have your name on assets such as the house you both live in.
  5. Creates debt in your name without your permission.
  6. Intentionally ruins your credit or financial history and accounts.
  7. Scrutinizes your spending and controls what you are able to purchase while freely spending money on themselves.

 

If you or someone you love is in an abusive situation visit www.thehotline.org for to learn more about resources available to survivors in your area.

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