I Have No Money: Leaving an Abusive Relationship

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Domestic violence is a very real issue for many in this country. While it does affect both sexes, there is a bigger chance you will experience it if you are a woman.

Your odds of exposure will be greater depending on your sexual identity or orientation, household income, and race, according to the CDC:

Grants and resources for women leaving an abusive relationship


But let’s face it: when you’ve experienced that fear in your own home, the numbers don’t matter. What matters is that very visceral experience. It’s personal. It’s terrifying. And all too often, it feels like you can never get out.

A major reason women feel like they can’t escape is that they don’t know how they will manage their finances on their own. Maybe you’re in a one-income household where your partner brings in the money. Maybe your partner simply controls the money, or you don’t make enough on your own wages to support your children and start anew.

There are many reasons for not leaving. To say money is the only one would be naive. But since this blog primarily concerns itself with finances, we’re going to explore ways to solve the money problem today for partners who want to escape their abusive relationships. These are resources, but I’d highly encourage you to reach out to a counselor before finalizing any big plans. As mentioned, these situations are nuanced and dangerous.

If money is the thing holding you back, here are some solutions to that part of the puzzle:

Leaving an Abusive Relationship When You Have No Money

Sure, you could hustle. Sure, you could try to find a job and daycare if you have kids.

But immediately following your departure, you need to be focusing on keeping yourself (and your children if you have any) safe. There’s a lot that goes into that, and it interferes with pulling in extra cash.

Shelters and non-profits across the country recognize that. In fact, they have funds set aside to help you out through the transition. Check out the below resources for funding opportunities.

And remember, it’s not shameful to get help. You’re leaving a bad situation for a better tomorrow. It’s scary. The obstacles are real. Others recognize this. It’s why the money exists. Use it.

National Resources

State Resources

While they may not all have funds or grants to give you directly, get in touch with your state’s coalition against domestic violence. They can point you to state-run resources and other local organizations that may be able to lend a financial hand. You can find a full list for all 50 states here.

Local Resources

Many women’s shelters also provide grants for things like housing, education or even just cash financial needs. If you don’t know of a women’s shelter in your area, get in touch with the state coalition listed above or the National Domestic Violence Hotline. They’ll be able to point you in the right direction.

There is help.

Leaving is difficult. It’s complex. It has potential health and safety concerns. But if money is the thing holding you back, know that there are resources available. You can get out if you’re willing to reach out.

I’m rooting for you.



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38 thoughts on “I Have No Money: Leaving an Abusive Relationship

  1. Done by Forty

    Thanks so much for writing this post and sharing some resources & encouragement for those who might be in an abusive relationship. Like you said, safety is the number one concern…but it’s good to know there are resources out there to help on the financial side.

    1. femmefrugality

      Absolutely. If money is your only issue with leaving then hopefully this helps, but I’d call either the national hotline or the state coalition if there are any concerns beyond that, which there are in most cases. Need a full plan, and money is just part of it. Doesn’t always have to be a prohibitive part of it in certain cases, though.

  2. Prudence Debtfree

    “it’s not shameful to get help” – A huge obstacle that many face. What an important topic. Thank you for posting this. Great message. Practical information. “The obstacles are real. Others recognize this. It’s why the money exists. Use it.” Yes, yes, and yes.

    1. Femme Frugality

      It’s so hard… No one wants to feel like a charity case. I feel like there’s so much focus on individualism and bootstraps our society that it really shames people who need to reach out. And it shouldn’t. It takes a lot of bravery; those who do deserve admiration.

  3. Amanda @ centsiblyrich

    I love this post. Thank you so much for writing about this important issue. I used to (and sometimes still do) teach self-defense/safety classes to teens. Domestic violence is a big part of the discussion – when I tell the story about how abuse creeps in and develops in a relationship, I see recognition in more faces than you can imagine. Some have spoken about friends in abusive relationships. It’s an issue many face alone, but it’s so important to get help and help is available. Money can be a big obstacle – the information in your post is invaluable!

    1. Femme Frugality

      Thank you for sharing your story! I’m sure you help countless women who have been in these situations, and it’s probably super helpful that they can do so in relative anonymity, because coming forward is hard in so many ways.

  4. Julie Wood

    What is so terrible about being repeatedly abuse and traumatized by domestic violence that the longer a women stays in an abusive relationship her brain deteriorates and can become destroyed! It damages the brain is one of the terrible consequences of abuse.

    1. darmaglow

      that is exactly how i feel…my mind is not owned by me anymore….sad….I feel like i live in a magician’s world
      …..and I am the assistant who knows how all the tricks are performed. Everyone is fascinated but think I’m stupid …….no one sees how he treats me

      1. femmefrugality Post author

        This post just went live and *may* have some specific resources that could potentially help: https://femmefrugality.com/ptsd/

        It’s frustrating to know what’s happening to you and still not being able to control your own mind. Harm has been inflicted onto you. You are not stupid. We hear you here.

        And although it’s born from a dark place, your poetic analogy is powerful. Thank you for it.

  5. Mel @ brokeGIRLrich

    I recently went to a new gynecologist and as part of my intake paperwork and interview they asked me a bunch of questions about whether I’d ever been forced to engage in activity I didn’t want to, if my relationships felt safe, if I needed help getting out of a bad situation… I kind of wondered about all those questions, but seeing the statistics in the infographic made them all make a lot more sense. I’m actually glad they’re asking them now since it’s probably a rare, safe opportunity for some women to speak up then.

    1. Femme Frugality

      Absolutely. Mine started doing the same thing. Plus they have a tear off number thing for shelters and counselors in the bathroom, so even more anonymous. Hope everyone starts doing stuff like this.

  6. Hayley @ Disease Called Debt

    This is such an important issue to tackle, thank you for writing this. The resources you’ve listed here are going to be incredibly helpful to women in this situation. Money worries shouldn’t be the reason to stay in an abusive relationship and it’s good to know that there is help out there.

  7. Pingback: What is Financial Abuse? | Femme Frugality

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  9. Cee

    I am in the midst of this uphill battle right now. I’ve been married for 11 years & was so beaten down, I had no idea that I was even a victim. I was always just so grateful when a day went by without anything bad happening. I would wrack my brain, trying to remember what it was I did that day to get it right so that I could repeat the behavior the next day; I’ve since learned that his behavior (aka illness/addiction) is not my fault & is not my responsibility.

    I’ve been gone for 2.5 months now, & am struggling greatly with the financial end of things. He still gives me an small allowance (threatening about once a week to take it away), which covers my basic bills; however, he has told me if I were to come home (the mortgage is half in my name, btw!), that he would cut me off completely, meaning no insurance, no cell phone, no gas to put in my car, no doctor’s appointments or prescriptions (I have several autoimmune diseases & have been told all my life I should be in a wheelchair…to this day, I stubbornly remain standing, just as I will continue to do in this crazy situation!). But I can’t continue to live without his support at this time–at least until I find a job that will allow me to work part-time from home (on my hours…eesh, I know, it sounds impossible!), & receive SSI disability SOON!

    Thanks for the info; it was very helpful & has many tips that I will be implementing in the future (including advising the police & perhaps asking for an escort when I go back to get my things & say goodbye to my pups, who I doubt I will ever see again.

    Blessings to you!!

    1. femmefrugality Post author

      Oh, Cee, I’m so sorry for all you’ve been through! Thank you for sharing your story—I like the stubbornness of standing, and hope you are able to find the resources to help you do so! Have you thought about looking for remote work? There’s a lot of scammy “opportunities,” but there are also a ton of legitimate ways to do it. It looks like you may have read some of the other posts in this series, but Kylie’s in particular talks about how this can be an option: https://femmefrugality.com/8-ways-help-loved-ones-abusive-relationships/

      I’m rooting for you! And yes, I’m so glad you’ll be getting help when you go to gather your things. This can be such a dangerous time and I think you’re very smart to do so.

      Things will get better eventually—keep going!

  10. Anonymous

    My daughter, 2 grandsons and I need help to get away from an abusive, drug addicted, controlling boyfriend. I get disability but it gets spent supporting the household when he won’t work. We have no car and no money and nowhere to go. Can you please help us?

    1. femmefrugality Post author

      First of all, you are so courageous to reach out for help. I am so sorry that you find yourself in this situation.
      Before even money, please make sure everyone is safe. While I cannot help with this particular aspect, the National Hotline for Domestic Violence can. Their phone number is 1-800-799-7233. They can help you create a safety plan and connect you with any local resources there may be.
      Some of those resources may include financial support. Some shelters do offer stipends to help you get back on your feet, and the hotline will be able to connect you with them. You can also check out Web of Benefits, mentioned in the above article. Their grants are small, but every little bit helps.
      Most importantly, please call the hotline. It really sounds like you need a trained professional in this field to make sure your family is safe, and the hotline can provide that for you.

  11. Anon for safety reasons

    Ugh. I’m trying to leave an emotional, financially, and mentally abusive relationship.
    None of the financial resources are available, in part, because of state politics. He has been violent, but never enough to qualify for shelter.

    That I’ve tried resources you’ve kindly listed and I’m slipping through…

    Thanks for trying. I’m glad this helps many.

    1. femmefrugality Post author

      I’m so sorry none of these turned anything up. I surprised the shelters would turn you away–many in this field recognize that emotional, verbal or ‘light’ violence lead to much greater danger. I know you’ve probably already seen this, but for Texas: https://hhs.texas.gov/family-violence-program They’d be more in tune with what’s available in your area than I could research.

      You’re in my heart. I will continue keeping my ear to the ground for you if that doesn’t turn anything up either.

      1. femmefrugality Post author

        I wanted to let you know that the United Way has been added as a resource. From my research, they’re the #1 funder of programs in the state of Texas–they may even fund more than the state government, but I’m not sure. If you haven’t found what you need, I’d call 2-1-1!

  12. Paula Smith

    i don’t know if its a reason to leave..I married my 1st husband at 16, we had 2 children, we were married 21years, He cheated. I left. Leaving my daughter 20 and son 14 behind( their choice to stay with him). being so alone, i met, dated and married my 2nd husband, He works, won’t allow me to work(I did before marriage). I cook, clean, do all domestic work , help cut fire wood on weekends,stack and carry all fire wood. do all gardening, feed all animals, ect..my day is 5am-12:30 am, his day is 5am-5pm( work hours) home by 6pm and asleep by 7:30. when I ask for help on a repair or plow garden or anything that I can not do..I get cussed at, ( my lazy ass does nothing all day!!!!! why does he have to help me????) i have suggested hiring someone to do small repairs,No one is allowed to come on HIS property..I’m here alone all day, I have to be here to answer the phone at noon(he checks in), so if I go to town its too early to visit anyone.My sister says he is controling me, my home is falling apart and our marriage is over( i can’t respect someone that cusses me..but I have a farm that I can’t walk away from…

    1. femmefrugality Post author

      Paula, I am so sorry you are going through this. Every time I hear a story similar to yours, I wish I could just tell every single person to leave, because it makes me so upset to hear about these abuses.

      But the reality is that safety is the number one issue, and that economic obstacles are real. I can’t tell you if you should leave or not, but I can direct you to some people who can. If you feel like you can do so safely, please contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233.

      Not only can they help you make the safest decision for your specific situation, but they can also link you with local resources that may be able to help on the financial or legal side of things.

      Know that you have people who understand and are thinking of you. Your sister. And us. And I’m sure many others in your personal life, too…even if you haven’t been able to keep in touch with them for a while. Keep reaching out where you can do so safely.

  13. Janet

    I have a solid career, great job, good income, but poor credit. I’m not able to rent or purchase anything. Myself and my 5 children are tired of living with an Alcoholic. He either doesn’t work, and we are broke. Or he works and drinks and spends money everyday. I’m in Texas and I want out desperately. I don’t want to live with family. My only option is the monthly motel suites.

    1. femmefrugality Post author

      Oh, man. And with a good income you’re probably disqualified from a lot of the available programs and housing…such a tough situation!

      I will say that except in rare cases, time is the only thing that can heal a credit report. While I’m not advising you to leave or stay–I’ll leave that to the professionals—it sounds like if you leave the credit side of things may start to heal. Will probably lead to less-than-ideal living arrangements in the short-term, and with children I understand the hesitation, but long-term things can get better as you start implementing better credit practices solo.

      If you do leave and want to try speeding things up a little, a documented case of domestic violence may help in writing a goodwill letter to creditors: https://femmefrugality.com/how-to-write-a-goodwill-letter/

      I’d highly encourage the use of the national hotline. They can help you get a plan in place and help you decide if leaving or staying is right for you. It goes beyond the money into safety and logistics of building a new life.

      I’m rooting for you!

  14. Midori S.

    Man, why so many men abuse their women?? This is part of the reason why I don’t have kids. I won’t know what I’d do if my son/daughter had caused to another human beings such pain. The pain that can alter the persons personality, and rips their souls to pieces. And he/she is a product of mine. The one I thought I did everything right to raise him/her. As a victim of domestic abuse myself, I don’t want to be a part of that.

    But seriously, with all the information and stories shared today, why the abusers still continue to abuse without feeling any shame? They can always get help. Don’t they know it’s pretty embarrassing??

    1. femmefrugality Post author

      I understand the concern after the trauma, and while I think there’s a lot of good that parents can do as far as influencing their children, I think the idea of the sins of the parent not reflecting on the child goes the other way most of the time, too. Sometimes you do everything right, but…
      I don’t know how people can do it, period, except the fact that as human beings, we have this capability of justifying most of our own actions. That doesn’t make it right, and I would hope the abusers themselves would reach out for help, too. It’s so hard to make people see the light, though. And so incredibly sad.

  15. InvisiBlonde

    Just FYI: I went to Web of Benefit just now, and there is a note from its founder announcing its closure after twelve years.

    1. femmefrugality Post author

      Thank you for letting me know! Going in to remove it right now–hopefully I’ll be able to find another resource to replace it.

        1. femmefrugality Post author

          Have to be honest and say I don’t know, but I might guess lack of funding?

          I did replace it with United Way, which is admittedly not exclusively dedicated to Domestic Violence, but does partner with local organizations in each individual district. They’re good people to talk to if you’re looking for resources close to home!

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  17. darmaglow

    How can he say he loves me and hates me in the same sentence…but switches it around? I don’t even like him anymore, just stuck. Tried to walk to a womens shelter and thought I made it….turned out to be a historical residence and police brought me back to him…..they both had a good laugh at my expense.

    1. femmefrugality Post author

      There is nothing wrong with you that’s making him do this. It’s him. I’m sorry your local law enforcement is not doing their jobs. Frankly, if they know what’s going on they’re making a mockery of serve and protect.

      Have you tried calling the National Domestic Violence Hotline? I know in some areas, shelters have received donations of free rides from ride sharing services. Maybe there’s something like that locally.

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