Money and finances play an important role when you are considering whether or not to leave an abusive relationship. Research shows that the main reason why victims of domestic violence stay in the abusive relationships is because they lack financial knowledge and resources. So, regardless of whether you are planning to leave or stay, it is important to educate yourself about finance.
Saving is the first thing you need to start doing if you haven’t so far, because it is a great way to make sure you have enough resources in case you decide to leave.
Here you can find some information on how to save money and handle finances.
Remember! It’s important to plan this carefully so it can be done as safely as possible avoiding any risk for yourself or your children.
How to create an emergency escape fund
These are only ideas and while some may be possible for you to do, others may not be as viable. Do this only if you can do so carefully without making your husband and in-laws suspicious.
• If you get pocket money from your husband and/or family, try to save some amount every month. It may not look like a lot at first but it will add up over time.
• Sell gold or silver jewellery – especially the little ones that may not be missed and that you don’t normally wear.
• It may also be a good idea, depending on your circumstances, to keep gold to sell later on.
• Sell sari or other expensive clothes.
• If you work – try to set aside some amount from your pay discretely.
• Ask friends of family to look after your money for you if you can trust them with your escape plan.
If you can’t trust them with your escape plan – here are some helpful excuses you can use to justify why you are giving them money for safe keeping: I want to buy a new dress I have had my eye on, I want a new mobile but he won’t let me buy one, I need to save money to buy my nephew/niece a gift for their birthday but he will make me spend it on his siblings etc.
• Set up a new bank account that your partner is not aware of – perhaps you could use a different bank and request statements are not sent to you. Another idea is to set up an online bank account over the internet. If you do use the internet then try to do so at work (if you are allowed), in a public library or at a friend’s house: if you are using the internet at home, try and clear the search history so you don’t get caught.
Be careful about who you borrow from
If they know you are planning to leave – keep them out of sight of your husband, family and in-laws. To keep them and yourself safe, it is best that your husband and other abusers know the least about them.
If they cannot be trusted with the information about your intent to leave – they may suspect you and tip your family off. This can become dangerous quite quickly. Be careful.
You can’t hide your family members from your husband and in-laws. Family can be a huge source of support but they can also be your biggest enemy. It’s easy to trust family because of the bond of love and trust you have shared throughout your life. However, it is important that you test your family first with hints and small information. See how they react. Cultural influence can be stronger than family bond. Be careful.
If they will support you to leave – you can start planning how to save for it with them.
If they will punish you for leaving – you have to be very careful how you give them money for safe keeping. You need to come up with a convincing story to avoid suspicion.
If they will kill you if you leave – do not involve them with anything related to your leaving or staying. Anything can arouse their suspicion.
• Mortgage (girvi) – If you decide to mortgage your wedding ring, use a jewellery shop that is unknown to your family and in-laws.
• Be careful when hearing Doorstep lenders with too-good-to-be-true loan deals. It may seem like the quickest way to get loan money but they will charge you extremely high rates of interest and you may be harassed by them in the future if you cannot upkeep the payments.
• You can also use credit cards to borrow, but again keep a close eye on how much you owe in total so that it doesn’t run out of control. Also, make sure the address on the bank card is not that of the house you share with your husband or in-laws but the house of a trusted friend. Your husband or his family may be able to track you from the credit card statements.
Budgeting Once You Are Safe
If you decide to leave your husband, then you will have some Chayn (peace) to start thinking about financial matters that will concern you. Don’t stress! Budgeting can be great to give you some peace of mind:
1. Think through your circumstances, get a clear idea of what money is coming in and going out and deal with any particular problems.
2. Work out which income is regular and which is less regular.
3. Work out what is essential expenditure and what is not.
4. Identify which expenditures are regular and how often you have to make them.
5. Understand where your money goes and where you might be able to save money.
You may find it helpful to write your budget down (try using the table at the end of the page). Someone you trust may be able to look it over with you and check you have included everything. (Refuge UK, You Can Afford To Leave)
Things to remember when drawing up your budget
• You don’t have to account for every last penny, but make sure that you don’t forget about any regular small expenditure which can add up over time.
• When you first draw up a budget, you might not yet know everything about the benefits that you can get, or how you are going to pay off any debts. You might find it useful to repeat your initial budgeting exercise once things become clearer. You may also find it useful to repeat it every couple of months to check that you are still on the right track.
Five key things that you may need to think about are
1. Budgeting – writing down what money you receive and have versus what your expenditure is. Plan how to use what you have most effectively and figure out ways to return the loans you may have taken.
2. Government and/or NGO Benefits – maximising support available from local organisations or government schemes.
3. Bank account – it is crucial to get a bank account if you don’t already have one because not only is it a safe way to store and spend money – it also serves as a proof of identity and requirement for various support programs, universities and visa situations.
4. Sorting any financial ties from your husband – figuring out the financial relationship between yourself and your partner.
5. Dealing with debts and loans – planning how to manage repaying your loans and debts.
What do I need to live alone (with or without kids)?