Tag Archives: Domestic Violence

Economic Abuse: Silent Epidemic of Abused Children

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. In recognition, Femme Frugality is running a series on the topic every Monday. This series includes a mixture of factual pieces and personal stories.

The final post of the month is contributed by Kenisha Burke–a Communications Professor, Author and a Motivational Speaker. She has spent years motivating and inspiring audiences to tell their truth and empower themselves.

She is the author of Silence No More and the creator of the Silence No More Project which chronicles the effects of silence in her life and other sexual assault victims.

Please use the hashtag #DVAM2017 when sharing this article on social media.

Note: This post may contain triggers for survivors of abuse.

I didn't realize what a large economic toll being a victim of childhood abuse can take. Such an important story from an amazing survivor!

I grew up in a home where I never knew if the electricity would be on, the car would be repossessed or if there was enough food in the refrigerator. I was thirteen years old when my mother forged my age on a document so that I could get a job.

For most of my life I did not know this was unusual, but money is an issue for people from my community. A lack of education placed my family in a perpetual cycle of financial crisis where more was spent than earned, and there was never a nest egg to fall back on.

What’s Credit?

I will fully disclose that I am a survivor of childhood sexual abuse and that lead to some of my naivety as a child and a teen. I had to hide from people and keep secrets. As a result, I did not interact with people on the same level that other children did.

Entering the workforce at thirteen made me realize that my family needed money. Every time I got paid, I was asked to provide funds for a bill or food. When I was sixteen, I was working almost fulltime while attending high school.

I had no concept of credit or financial responsibility. I did not even know what it was. I watched my family bounce checks and accumulate bills–never thinking of the consequences.

My main concern in life was to do well in school so I could leave home and escape my abusive household.

Bad Credit

When I was a freshman in college I found out that I had bad credit.  This discovery changed the course of my life.

I remember walking through the quad and seeing all the credit card vendors soliciting. I stood in line with several of my friends to obtain my first credit card.

The exact same week a friend questioned me about not having a cell phone, which was something I had never even thought about. I did not have anyone to call and never really saw the need. My new friends were outraged that I did not have a phone and said that I needed one for safety purposes.

I thought about it for a while and a few weeks later, I went to the mall to obtain a cell phone.  It was while I was at the cellphone kiosk that I found out that I had bad credit. I was turned down for a cellphone account because of my credit. The same day when I arrived back to my dorm I received a rejection letter from the credit card company.

The Fall Out

I was upset and confused because I knew that I had never obtained anything with my credit before. The credit card denial came with the notification that I could obtain my credit report to find out why they turned me down for credit.

I contacted the credit agency and requested my credit report.  While I was waiting for the report to come, I started doing research on credit.

When the report arrived, I was already aware of the consequences of these denials. What I was not prepared for was the amount of debt that had been accumulated in my name. I was thirty thousand dollars in debt and some of the accounts had been opened in the last year.

I Can Fix This

I contacted the campus lawyer and brought him my credit report. Thinking the bills were created without my knowledge and I was not old enough to create these bills, I was confident I could fix this and be able to start my life without bad credit.

I was wrong.

The campus attorney told me that to remove the items from my report I would have to press charges against the person who created the accounts. That person was my mother. I knew it was my mother because she was the only person who had access to my social security number.

When I contacted my mother to ask about the information on my credit report, she acted as if it was no big deal. She admitted to using my credit and said she would take care of it, but I knew she wouldn’t.

I never had the heart to press charges against my mother. I had bad credit and I could either pay the bills or wait seven years for some of the bills to be removed from my credit report.

My Solution to Economic Abuse

I went through college ignoring the fact that I had bad credit. I paid for everything in cash and if I could not afford it I did not buy it. I was supporting myself financially with two jobs while in school. I was unable to go on spring break or take road trips with my friends.

I was eventually able to get a cellphone in my senior year of college, when cell phone companies allowed people with blemished credit to get accounts.

After graduation, I found a car lot that would sell to consumers with poor credit and obtained a loan. I made sure to pay that loan on time, and within a few years I obtained a secured credit card.

I started to create positive credit in my name and payed for a credit monitoring service so I would know if any new accounts were opened in my name.  My mother tried to use my credit again, but I was notified by the monitoring company as soon as the attempt was being made. As a result, no more fraudulent accounts were ever established.

Where I am Today as a Survivor

I have done the hard work of repairing my credit on my own. It was not an easy journey. I am hypervigilant now about my credit and bills, but that is just a result of my past experiences. What I have found out is that I am not alone–there are a lot of children who have bad credit.

It is called identity theft, but it is the one that seems to be the least prosecuted and the easiest for parents to do. Until something is done to prevent the abuse of a child’s social security number this will remain a problem in America. Financial literacy is not taught in many schools, and most children will not know until they are adults that they have bad credit.

 

 

Related Domestic Abuse Content

To learn more about domestic violence or abuse, or to find more ways to get help, check out other articles in this series:

Domestic abuse can take many forms, including child abuse and economica abuse. This is Dr. Burke's story of overcoming identity theft as a survivor.

Economic Abuse: Silent Epidemic of Abused Children

Survivors of childhood abuse encounter unique challenges, even in the realm of economic abuse. Read Dr. Kenisha Burke's story of overcoming identity theft.

The Silver Lining Behind My Debt

There is a lot of stigma around debt. There is a lot of stigma around domestic abuse. But debt is a useful tool that can help you become a survivor.

8 Signs You May Be in an Abusive Relationship

Many abuse victims don't realize their relationship is unhealthy until it is too late. Here are red flags to watch for from a domestic violence survivor.

LGBTQ+ Intimate Partner Violence

Unique Economic Obstacles for LGBTQ+ IPV Survivors

While intimate partner violence happens at a comparable rate in the LGBTQ+ community, survivors face additional financial barriers.

long term effects of ptsd

The Long-Term Financial Effects of PTSD

PTSD affects combat veterans and survivors of domestic abuse alike. Learn what it can do to your finances, and what you can do about it.

Getting Help: LGBTQ+ Domestic Violence Survivors

Domestic violence does happen in the LGBTQ+ community. Here's how to get help if you need it, and how society can better help survivors.

You could be the victim of financial abuse even if you're the primary breadwinner.

Financial Abuse: My Partner Nearly Drained Me Dry

Financial abuse doesn't just happen when a partner tries to limit your income; it can also happen when they try to take over the money you're bringing in.

8 Ways to Help Loved Ones in Abusive Relationships

Having a friend or family member who is in an abusive relationship is hard. This article gives you tips to help from a domestic violence survivor.

Feeling trapped in a relationship because of money

What is Financial Abuse?

Financial abuse is something many go through, but not all recognize it even as it's happening. Read on to learn how to identify this type of abuse.

Here's where you can find money to leave an abusive relationship.

I Have No Money: Leaving an Abusive Relationship

Leaving an abusive relationship is difficult, complex and nuanced. One major hurdle is finances. Lessen that problem with these resources and grants.

The Silver Lining Behind My Debt

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. In recognition, Femme Frugality is running a series on the topic every Monday. This series includes a mixture of factual pieces and personal stories.

Today’s post is contributed by Michelle Bobrow–the Chief of Cha-Ching at The Holistic Wallet where she teaches the creatively-inclined how to manage their money with ease.

As a self-proclaimed recovering personal finance addict, Michelle focuses on money psychology to integrate healthy and balanced financial habits into our lives. Through strategic planning and mindful coaching, Michelle turns numbers into a work of art as she designs holistic budgets and sustainable systems for you to pay off your past, save for your future, and enjoy the present.

You can follow Michelle on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram.

Please use the hashtag #DVAM2017 when sharing this article on social media.

Note: This post may contain triggers for survivors of abuse.

This woman is crazy strong to live through the abuse. Just goes to show debt isn't always evil.

Personal finance is so important to me because the factor of money is often what keeps us from pursuing truly autonomous and authentic lives. Personally, I’m no stranger to choosing financial stability over jumping into the unknown of my self-sufficiency.

But it was an abusive relationship that pushed me to make the leap. Running from my ex meant running into debt. Although this is frowned upon in personal finance circles, I can guarantee it was a safer option than staying in such a toxic relationship.

While I can certainly empathize how staying in an abusive relationship can seem like the only option at times – financial and otherwise – leaving such a relationship can be a positive move, even if you can’t immediately see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Today I write to you as a survivor of debt and domestic abuse and I would like to take this opportunity to share my story in the event that speaking my truth can help someone else.

Taking on Debt to Escape an Abusive Relationship

Earlier this year, I called off my engagement and moved 1,500 miles across the country to escape months of narcissistic abuse that had a devastating impact on my psychological health. I never understood quite how resilient the human spirit is until I summoned the courage to get out.

I’m still working on forgiving myself for letting that relationship go on for as long as it did, but leaving it was the greatest act of self-love and self-care I have ever committed. However, it didn’t have quite as positive of an impact on my financial health. (Well, not yet. It will pay off in the end because financial abuse is no joke either but that’s a story for another time.)

I am writing to you now with $5,566 of credit card debt and $2,813 of medical debt that I am scheduled to pay off in 18 months costing $479 in interest. With the interest-free credit options available to me, I assure you I’m getting off easy.

I’m sure there are plenty of ways I could have started this new chapter of my life more frugally – six separate households offered to take me in indefinitely and I lost count of all the hand-me-down furniture offers – but I accepted as many favors as I could stomach while also rebuilding my sense of independence and self-sufficiency.

Debt Bought My Freedom

Debt isn’t quite synonymous with freedom, but for me it most definitely is.

The debt I carry now is directly related to that traumatic period of my life. It is the cost of leaving and the cost of surviving. It is symbolic of being both a victim and a survivor. And because of that, I am proud of my debt.

See, in the months before I left, I thought I had to fake being happy until one of us died. Because there was no other way out. My life would be intolerable if I stood up to her and walked away.

Writing that seems petty now that I’m on the surviving side but I was so traumatized by my ex’s erratic behavior – the fear of the financial mess it would create, of the violent retaliation and public defamation, and of losing everything I had worked so hard for over the past several years – that I just didn’t think I was capable of watching it all come crashing down.

I Became My Own Hero

The break-up was just as messy and painful as I anticipated it would be but I got through it because I knew I had to prove to myself that I could be my own hero. And as someone who coaches women on economic empowerment, it would be hypocritical of me for financial matters to stand in the way of a healthy and safe life.

Let me be clear: If you don’t like where you are, you can leave. Your safety is more important than the price tag, the stigmas, and the messiness. I’ll never say that it is easy, but it is attainable. And we all deserve to be safe and to be treated with kindness.

NOTE: Before you make any moves, be sure to set a safety plan in place for your specific situation as leaving can be the most dangerous time—even if your partner hasn’t gotten physical to date. You can get help making this plan by calling the National Domestic Violence Hotline.

I am writing this now with a HUGE bittersweet grin on my face because I have been the happiest and healthiest I have ever been in my entire life these past few months. I am very, very, very grateful I am here right now to experience this.

I don’t remember when it clicked, but now I see my debt as a trophy of survival. I make a $500 payment every month as my big middle finger to the stigmas of debt, domestic abuse, and psychological trauma.

Your Net Worth Does Not Define You

There are times when I feel like a fraud in my industry because I am simultaneously ashamed and proud of my debt. This industry still does a good job at debt-shaming which is ridiculous because our entire economy is built upon debt – businesses have it, banks have it, the government has it – but I digress.

I try to speak to myself as I would speak to anyone else who would come to me with a similar situation. And I said “Your story is not over yet. Your debt will not define you. This struggle will not be as permanent as death.”

Debt is not the end of the story.

Debt is not defeat. Debt can be resilience.

I can tell you this with certainty because I have debt and it feels like both a horribly traumatic mistake and a modern financial tool that has saved my life.

There is always something else on the other side of that debt or depleted savings. It does not appear out of nothing. Maybe it’s something tangible that you own like a couch or an education. Maybe it’s just a story, a lesson, or a personal growth experience.

That is not to say that my debt in the past wasn’t shameful, that a big number of negative dollars didn’t feel like it would follow me for as long as I lived, that I didn’t consider I was worth more dead than alive once I had life insurance.

Debt can feel like a heavy burden to drag along. Debt can represent a mistake, a bad call, a distressing period of your life. It can be another big thing you have to worry about when you’re already worrying about so much.

Whether it’s medical debt for a false alarm or a life-saving surgery, whether it’s a destructive shopping habit or daily life essentials on your credit cards, whether it’s a mortgage-sized amount of student loans for a degree you never used or one that led you to your dream job…

Whether that debt is your escape route out of a relationship that is destroying your mind, body, and soul…

Know this: You did what you had to do with the means and mindset available to you at the time. You are here now. And you are breathing.

Debt is Not Permanent

If your debt does not represent a personal triumph, if your debt is the trauma itself, I promise you it is not permanent. I promise you will have other wins. I can easily name 50 things I am grateful for now that I am still here to write this article.

I still cannot find the words to express how liberated I feel these days that I still have a voice. I am still afraid to use it at times, especially being a public figure on the internet, knowing my livelihood can be destroyed in a very public way and I will have no power to stop it.

But I have faced this beast before and I will let my body decide when my time is up before my mind does. I hope you continue to stand up to your beasts, too – debt or otherwise.

 

 

 

Related Domestic Abuse Content

To learn more about domestic violence or abuse, or to find more ways to get help, check out other articles in this series:

Domestic abuse can take many forms, including child abuse and economica abuse. This is Dr. Burke's story of overcoming identity theft as a survivor.

Economic Abuse: Silent Epidemic of Abused Children

Survivors of childhood abuse encounter unique challenges, even in the realm of economic abuse. Read Dr. Kenisha Burke's story of overcoming identity theft.

The Silver Lining Behind My Debt

There is a lot of stigma around debt. There is a lot of stigma around domestic abuse. But debt is a useful tool that can help you become a survivor.

8 Signs You May Be in an Abusive Relationship

Many abuse victims don't realize their relationship is unhealthy until it is too late. Here are red flags to watch for from a domestic violence survivor.

LGBTQ+ Intimate Partner Violence

Unique Economic Obstacles for LGBTQ+ IPV Survivors

While intimate partner violence happens at a comparable rate in the LGBTQ+ community, survivors face additional financial barriers.

long term effects of ptsd

The Long-Term Financial Effects of PTSD

PTSD affects combat veterans and survivors of domestic abuse alike. Learn what it can do to your finances, and what you can do about it.

Getting Help: LGBTQ+ Domestic Violence Survivors

Domestic violence does happen in the LGBTQ+ community. Here's how to get help if you need it, and how society can better help survivors.

You could be the victim of financial abuse even if you're the primary breadwinner.

Financial Abuse: My Partner Nearly Drained Me Dry

Financial abuse doesn't just happen when a partner tries to limit your income; it can also happen when they try to take over the money you're bringing in.

8 Ways to Help Loved Ones in Abusive Relationships

Having a friend or family member who is in an abusive relationship is hard. This article gives you tips to help from a domestic violence survivor.

Feeling trapped in a relationship because of money

What is Financial Abuse?

Financial abuse is something many go through, but not all recognize it even as it's happening. Read on to learn how to identify this type of abuse.

Here's where you can find money to leave an abusive relationship.

I Have No Money: Leaving an Abusive Relationship

Leaving an abusive relationship is difficult, complex and nuanced. One major hurdle is finances. Lessen that problem with these resources and grants.

8 Signs You May Be in an Abusive Relationship

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. In recognition, Femme Frugality is running a series on the topic every Monday. This series includes a mixture of factual pieces and personal stories.

Today’s post is contributed by Laurie Blank–a successful freelance writer who spent many tough years surviving through two abusive relationships; one physically abusive relationship and one emotionally abusive relationship.

Through education and perseverance she has learned how to find her voice and set healthy boundaries that ensure others treat her with love and respect. You can find her blogging about faith, family and finances at LaurieBlank.com.

Please use the hashtag #DVAM2017 when sharing this article on social media.

Note: This post may contain triggers for survivors of abuse.

Saving for my sister. Signs you might be in an abuse relationship. Good things to look out for before things develop into violence.

When you think of domestic abuse, do you picture a man or woman being subjected to physical harm by a partner or spouse?

The truth about domestic violence is that it can take on many forms. Along with physical abuse, an abuser might also inflict harm on a partner by subjecting them to:

  • Verbal abuse
  • Emotional neglect
  • Financial abuse
  • Manipulation and control tactics

Domestic abuse is about much more than the physical act of hitting, punching or shoving someone. Both men and women can be victims of domestic abuse, and both men and women can be abusers.

Often times domestic abuse is very subtle. What might come off as loving and protective is often abusive.

How can you know the difference and stop yourself from becoming a victim of domestic violence?

The first step is in recognizing abusive behaviors, no matter how subtle or masked those behaviors might be.

Here are eight things to watch for that might be signs that your partner is abusive:

1. Your partner is overprotective or jealous.

While on some level it might feel nice to have someone love you so intensely that he or she gets jealous of your other relationships, it’s not healthy for a partner to be jealous of people or interests in your life.

If your partner gets upset when you want to do things on your own or when you have your own interests, this could be a sign that things are at or heading toward an abusive level.

2. Your partner doesn’t like spending time with your family or friends, and doesn’t want you to, either.

Abusers often dominate their partners via isolation. Does your partner seem to not like any of your friends or family members? Does he or she get angry when you suggest attending family gatherings?

Do they insist you stop seeing your friends? All of these behaviors are signs that your partner may be trying to isolate you from people who might call out their abusive behavior if they recognize it.

3. Your partner exhibits controlling behaviors.

Abusers control their partners in a number of ways. An abuser may work to control:

  • Where you work
  • Who you hang out with
  • What types of activities you partake in
  • How the money in your relationship is managed

Or any other number of things in your life. Financial abuse is becoming increasingly common. A financial abuser may cut off their partner’s access to the family money or put them on a limited and unrealistic budget.

A financial abuser may also refuse to let their partner see bank, credit card and loan statements.

All of these types of control tactics are a means to keep you under emotional–and sometimes physical–lock and key. If your partner is exhibiting these types of behaviors it’s time to seek help.

4. Your partner has unrealistic expectations.

Abusers often have unrealistic expectations of a partner’s performance, appearance or time commitments.

An abuser may expect their partner to look perfect at all times, to keep a spotless house or to behave a certain way around outsiders.

5. Your partner doesn’t take responsibility for their actions.

Most abusers, when called out on their abusive behavior, are quick to blame other people or circumstances.

They might deny an incident or behavior altogether, or they might absolve themselves of responsibility for the behavior by blaming you, their job, their parents or whatever other convenient scapegoat they can come up with.

A healthy person not only acknowledges their own unhealthy behaviors; they seek to change them as well.

As an abused person, you might not be able to pinpoint exactly what the other person is doing, however you can notice a gradual change in your feelings. You might be struggling with feelings such as the three listed below.

6. You feel afraid to share your true feelings or “rock the boat.”

A person who’s been subjected to subtle forms of abuse might be afraid to talk with their partner about the behaviors that make them feel uncomfortable.

They might feel it’s their responsibility to do what is asked of them to avoid upsetting the apple cart. If you feel you can’t share uncomfortable feelings with your partner, something is wrong.

7. You feel you can’t be honest with your partner about the things you do.

Do you have to lie or hide information about what you do and who you are with out of fear of a negative reaction from your partner?

This might be a sign you’re in an abusive relationship. Healthy partners encourage their spouses to grow and improve themselves, and that includes having individual activities and having relationships with those outside of the marriage or partnership.

8. You are unhappy in your relationship, but feel powerless to do anything about it.

Are you unhappy in your relationship but are afraid to do anything to help improve it? This could be a sign that your partner is an abuser.

In healthy relationships, each partner feels free to talk about things that they would like to see changed or improved upon.

You should always feel comfortable going to your partner to suggest changes or improvements in your relationship as long as those changes are ones that will make your relationship healthier.

What to Do if You Are in an Abusive Relationship

If you think you might be in an abusive relationship, the time to get help is NOW. If the abuse is non-life threatening, you may be able to talk with your partner about going together for counseling.

If you are feeling afraid of your partner or if your partner has made it clear that you are in imminent danger you need to find a safe way to get out quickly without being noticed.

Contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline to get professional help and advice about leaving. This is important because the most dangerous time in an abusive relationship is when you attempt to leave.

Even those who “only” enforce abuse via psychological or economic means will sometimes snap and turn violent when they can no longer exert psychological or financial control over you anymore.

The National Domestic Violence Hotline can help you locate a local domestic violence shelter – or even connect you with your local police or sheriff if necessary – for immediate help with your situation.

Don’t allow yourself–or your children–to be abused any longer. Get help today and get started on living the life you deserve to live.

 

 

Related Domestic Abuse Content

To learn more about domestic violence or abuse, or to find more ways to get help, check out other articles in this series:

Domestic abuse can take many forms, including child abuse and economica abuse. This is Dr. Burke's story of overcoming identity theft as a survivor.

Economic Abuse: Silent Epidemic of Abused Children

Survivors of childhood abuse encounter unique challenges, even in the realm of economic abuse. Read Dr. Kenisha Burke's story of overcoming identity theft.

The Silver Lining Behind My Debt

There is a lot of stigma around debt. There is a lot of stigma around domestic abuse. But debt is a useful tool that can help you become a survivor.

8 Signs You May Be in an Abusive Relationship

Many abuse victims don't realize their relationship is unhealthy until it is too late. Here are red flags to watch for from a domestic violence survivor.

LGBTQ+ Intimate Partner Violence

Unique Economic Obstacles for LGBTQ+ IPV Survivors

While intimate partner violence happens at a comparable rate in the LGBTQ+ community, survivors face additional financial barriers.

long term effects of ptsd

The Long-Term Financial Effects of PTSD

PTSD affects combat veterans and survivors of domestic abuse alike. Learn what it can do to your finances, and what you can do about it.

Getting Help: LGBTQ+ Domestic Violence Survivors

Domestic violence does happen in the LGBTQ+ community. Here's how to get help if you need it, and how society can better help survivors.

You could be the victim of financial abuse even if you're the primary breadwinner.

Financial Abuse: My Partner Nearly Drained Me Dry

Financial abuse doesn't just happen when a partner tries to limit your income; it can also happen when they try to take over the money you're bringing in.

8 Ways to Help Loved Ones in Abusive Relationships

Having a friend or family member who is in an abusive relationship is hard. This article gives you tips to help from a domestic violence survivor.

Feeling trapped in a relationship because of money

What is Financial Abuse?

Financial abuse is something many go through, but not all recognize it even as it's happening. Read on to learn how to identify this type of abuse.

Here's where you can find money to leave an abusive relationship.

I Have No Money: Leaving an Abusive Relationship

Leaving an abusive relationship is difficult, complex and nuanced. One major hurdle is finances. Lessen that problem with these resources and grants.

Unique Economic Obstacles for LGBTQ+ IPV Survivors

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. In recognition, Femme Frugality is running a series on the topic every Monday. This series will include a mixture of factual pieces and personal stories.

Please use the hashtag #DVAM2017 when sharing this article on social media.

Note: This post may contain triggers for survivors of abuse.

I didn't know intimate partner violence happened at the same rate in the LGBT community. These added hurdles are so messed up, too. Why are there not protections?

 

Over 35% of American women have experienced intimate partner violence (IPV.) While violence isn’t a prerequisite for financial abuse, when physical or sexual abuse is present, 94%-99% of the time, financial abuse comes along with it.

When we think of of abuse, we typically think of women in relationships with men. We assume these women are heterosexual, even though they may fall on a different point of the spectrum of sexual orientation. For example, bisexual women or pansexual women may be in a relationship that appears to meet our cultural perception of heteronormativity.

But abuse doesn’t just happen in 1:1, male:female relationships. In fact, it has a comparable rate of occurence in LGBTQ+ relationships to heterosexual relationships.

Financial abuse is a problem here, too. In fact, there are additional forms of abuse LGBTQ+ individuals are subject to. These abuses affect their personal finances in real and potentially devastating ways.

What is financial abuse?

Financial abuse is when your partner attempts to entrap  you in a relationship by robbing you of your economic power. Abuse in all its forms is a way to assert control.

Your partner doesn’t have to be the primary breadwinner to pursue financial abuse. You can be bringing in the money and still be robbed of your control–and therefore your ability to leave.

To learn more about financial abuse, read this article.

Prejudices against the LGBTQ+ Community

We have come a long way in our country towards equal rights for some parts of the LGBTQ+ community. But we still have a very long way to go.

We hold prejudices we don’t even think about as we go about our day-to-day lives. We systemically oppress and allow these prejudices to influence policies and laws. This behavior is dangerous at all times, but it has a particularly pronounced effect on LGBTQ+ survivors.

Heteronormativity

Andi Tremonte, advocate with OUTreach Utah, defines heteronormativity as, “the assumption, in individuals or institutions, that everyone is heterosexual, and that heterosexuality is superior to homosexuality or bisexuality.”

Heteronormativity has real impacts on employees in the workplace–whether or not they are in an abusive relationship.

Heteronormativity gives birth to homophobia, which Tremonte describes as, “the irrational fear of homosexuals, homosexuality, or any behavior, belief or attitude of self or others, which does not conform to rigid stereotypes for relationships and attraction.”

Cisnormativity

For as hard of a time as our culture has denouncing heteronormativity, we have an even harder time distancing ourselves from cisnormativity.

Tremonte defines cisnormativity as, “the assumption, in individuals or institutions, that everyone is cisgender, and that being cisgender is superior to being trans.”

Cisgender simply means that you express the gender you were assigned at birth in a way that is viewed as acceptable to our society.

The thing is, gender expression is a spectrum, too. In fact, Tremonte notes that you’ll find a wide array of identities and expressions when you look at the trans community.

Cisnormativity can lead to transphobia, which Tremonte says is, “the irrational fear of trans people, transgenderism, or any behavior, belief or attitude of self or others, which does not conform to rigid sex and gender-role stereotypes.”

He also notes that the occurrence rate of domestic violence is higher for trans people in general, and even higher for trans women of color.

Financial Impacts of Heteronormativity and Cisnormativity on Survivors

Heteronormativity and cisnormativity in and of themselves inflict financial oppression. In states without appropriate Non-Discrimination Acts (NDAs,) workers can be fired simply because their boss thinks they may fall outside of heteronormative or cisnormative cultural expectations.

Only thirty-three states have some measure of employment protections based on sexual orientation. Even fewer extend these protections based on gender identity.

This map shows which states do–and don’t–have protective employment laws based on orientation or identity:


Employment isn’t the only area of concern, though. There are separate NDAs–or lack thereof–for the following areas, too:

  • Housing
  • Hate crimes
  • Access to healthcare
  • Access to education
  • Public accommodations

Because it is legal to discriminate in these areas in some states based on your sexual orientation or gender identity, you can run into some really serious financial problems if you are outed.

Tremonte notes that especially for trans individuals, it goes beyond finances: being outed can be the difference between life and death.

Cultural and Identity Abuse

LGBTQ+ survivors face unique types of abuse that heterosexual and cisgender survivors typically do not: cultural abuse and identity abuse.

One way these types of abuse manifest is when someone threatens to out you. They may out you for being gay, for being transgender, for being HIV+, etc.

Those who aren’t LGBTQ+ can face these types of abuse as they relate to religious practice or immigration status.

Cultural and identity abuse leak into so many areas of your life–including your personal finances. Because of the country’s generally weak stance on protective NDA laws, being a victim of cultural or identity abuse has the very real potential of making you permanently unemployable, homeless, or–as Tremonte pointed out–dead.

He also notes that a lack of NDAs are not just a concern for the LGBTQ+ community; if you are simply thought to be outside the bounds of heteronormative or cisnormative biases, you can face the same consequences.

Let’s take a minute to do an exercise.

Here I want to pause. I want you, regardless of your orientation or identity, but especially if you meet heternomative or cisnormative expectations, to do the following three things:

  1. Think about what you would do if you were legally denied housing, employment, education and/or healthcare because of something you can’t change.
    What would you do for shelter?
    For money?
  2. Now, think about your preconceived notions about those who are of a different orientation or identity than yourself. Those prejudices that you may never say aloud, but still have trouble combating in your head.
    Do you see why they might exist after having performed step one?
    Do you see how these prejudices exist not based on anyone’s morality or work ethic, but because of the oppression our society inflicts?
  3. Now, think about how you see domestic violence survivors in general.
    Do you see why it might be hard to leave a relationship?
    Do you see why threatening to out someone can be a very effective form of manipulation?
    Do you see why some people in abusive relationships choose to stay–and that their decision may make them practical rather than weak?

What You Can Do About It

All of this can feel extremely overwhelming. But there are things you can do to help make the situation better.

Survivors: Know That You Have Rights

Leaving an abusive relationship is difficult for anyone, but when you’re not an apparently straight woman, things get even harder. There is limited shelter for men, and prejudices have historically made it difficult for LGBTQ+ women to get the help they need.

However, in 2013, the Violence Against Women Act was updated to provide more protection to the LGBTQ+ community. You can read about the updates here.

Voice Your Support to Your Legislators

Ideally, we would have clear and concise federal legislation that point blank protected the LGBTQ+ community from any discrimination. This would protect all Americans rather than just Americans in a select few states.

Until that day, we still need to keep putting pressure on our state legislators to do the right thing locally.

Write to or call your legislators to let them know you want to see stronger protective laws for the LGBTQ+ community. You can find out who your legislators are here.

Type in your address to find those that represent you at the federal level.

Select your state from the map to see the legislators that affect state laws where you live.

Change the Culture

Gay marriage was only achieved after decades of advocacy from the LGBTQ+ community. When the Supreme Court was finally convinced that American public opinion had shifted, equal rights in one realm were realized.

But we still have a long way to go, and equal rights in other realms are still out of reach. You have a voice. Use it.

When you see heteronormativity or cisnormativity in action, call it out. It doesn’t matter where you notice it–at work, around the dinner table, or coming out of your own mouth. Things are not going to change, and LGBTQ+ survivors will continue to face additional barriers in leaving abusive relationships, until we change public opinion and therefore legislation.

 

 

 Related Domestic Abuse Content

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The Long-Term Financial Effects of PTSD

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. In recognition, Femme Frugality will be running a series on the topic every Monday this month. This series will include a mixture of factual pieces and personal stories. Today we focus on the topic of PTSD, and what it can do to the long-term finances of survivors.

Please use the hashtag #DVAM2017 when sharing this article on social media.

Note: This post may contain triggers for those suffering from PTSD.

I never knew abuse could stay with you so long after the fact--or that PTSD could have an effect on your money.

PTSD is often thought of as a soldiers’ disorder. It is true that somewhere around 20% of combat veterans suffer from PTSD. These brave souls have been through truly traumatic and devastating events.

War is not the only place one can experience trauma, though. About 1 in 4 American women and 1 in 9 American men have experienced some type of domestic violence—whether that be physical abuse, sexual abuse or stalking—resulting in physical or psychological injury, according to the CDC.

In fact, there is a particularly strong correlation between PTSD and sexual trauma. This may explain in part why women are more than twice as likely to develop PTSD after a traumatic event.

How does having PTSD affect your long-term money situation? Today we’re delving in to find out.

The Effects of Macroeconomic Financial Shocks

Depression Babiesa study which focused on data from 1960 up until 2007—revealed that how the stock market has performed over your lifetime influences how much risk you’re willing to take on in your investments. For example, those who lived through the Great Depression are decidedly more conservative in their investments than those who entered the workforce in 1990.

PTSD’s Effect on Investing Behaviors

After reading Depression Babies, there was a lingering question in the air: if big, financial shocks impacted investing habits over the course of a lifetime, what effect would other types of trauma have on investment choices?

Vicki Bogan, associate professor of economics at Cornell University, worked together with colleagues David Just and Brian Wansink to find the answer to this question. Their findings were illuminating.

The study–Do Psychological Shocks Affect Financial Risk Taking Behavior?focused on the investment choices of WWII veterans who had experienced combat or war, and compared them to soldiers of the same age and era who had not lived through the same traumatic experiences.

It revealed that combat veterans were 14.10%-17.64% less likely to invest in risky assets such as stocks or mutual funds when compared to their combat-inexperienced peers. This is a problem because while these investments are riskier, they also hold more potential for growth.

Because this study focused on veterans, it notes that this data signals a need for heightened investment education for those who have seen combat.

Domestic Violence, PTSD and Investing

Research on the long-term effects of domestic violence on money habits is virtually nonexistent. Besides that, there isn’t a guarantee that living through abuse will result in PTSD.

However, because the rate of PTSD is comparatively high in women who have lived in abusive households, we can reasonably expect to see similar effects on their investment habits—until proven otherwise.

That means if you have PTSD resulting from abuse, you may want to check yourself to make sure you’re not investing more conservatively than you need to. Women with or without PTSD tend to set lower investing goals than men. We also tend to live longer.

Because we live longer, we need more money, yet we don’t shoot as high with our goals. If you’re avoiding risky assets unnecessarily, your behavior has real potential to delay how long it takes you to reach that already lowered bar.

What to Do if You Have PTSD

If you have experienced a traumatic event, like domestic violence or war, the first step to recovery is awareness. You have to recognize something is wrong before you can fix it.

If you’re concerned that PTSD may be affecting your investment habits or other parts of your life, talk to professionals. A therapist may help you work through the hypervigilance and fear—both of which may be keeping you away from stocks and riskier investments–while a financial professional can help you work out a sound investment strategy that matches your unique risk profile.

Riskier Investments Aren’t for Everyone

Bogan notes that taking on more stocks is not the right reaction for everyone.

“It [how much risk you should take] depends on a lot of factors,” she says. “One of the most important is your time horizon.”

For example, Bogan says that if you are saving money which you will need to access in the next couple of years, investing in stocks isn’t your best bet.

The stock market—over long periods of time—has reliably trended upwards. But in between the starting and ending points of that upward trend, there are a lot of ups and downs. If you invest in a stock and need the money in a year or two, there’s a reasonable chance that you will lose money on your investment.

However, she notes that if you have a longer time horizon—say, 10 or 20 years—you’re better able to ride out the ups and downs, taking advantage of that upwards trend. In these situations, you’re able to take on riskier investments.

Another major factor Bogan illuminates is risk aversion—or your level of comfort with investing in a greater percentage of stocks and mutual funds.

Because this is the area where PTSD could affect your judgement, it’s wise to work with a financial professional. Your own risk aversion may be heightened because of your experiences, even if all the other factors in your life, including time horizon, indicate that investing in more stocks and mutual funds is a wise move.

A professional can help evaluate your situation objectively without the cloud of bias that PTSD casts over riskier investments.

Get PTSD Treatment

Your retirement savings is extremely important. But if you have PTSD, you most likely have even more immediate needs right in front of you. What you’re going through is real, and other people have been there.

You might have PTSD if you’re exemplifying some—though not necessarily all–of these symptoms.

  • Nightmares, intrusive thoughts or flashbacks.
  • Emotional distress or physical pain/illness after exposure to triggers.
  • You try to avoid thinking about the trauma.
  • You can’t remember the details of the traumatic incident.
  • Loss of interest in activities you used to enjoy.
  • Isolation from friends and family.
  • Irritability or aggression.
  • Hypervigilance.
  • Trouble sleeping or concentrating.

The good news is that other people haven’t just been where you are right now—they’ve come out the other side.

The VA has stepped up their PTSD efforts in recent years. While not geared towards domestic violence survivors, the VA’s resources are still worth a look from all affected parties.

If you’re nervous about getting treatment for PTSD, visit About Face. The VA has put this resource together to encourage those suffering from the disorder to learn more, and to seek treatment.

Those people who have made it out the other side?

You’ll find them there, sharing their stories and the experiences they had while they walked the path of recovery.

Where to Find PTSD Treatment

Once you’ve decided you want to work towards recovery, seek out a mental health professional in your area. Preferentially, you’ll get someone with experience with domestic violence and/or PTSD. You can search local psychologists and licensed clinical social workers (LCSWs) by their specialties on Psychology Today.

If you’re in an area where health insurance is scant, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline. They will be able to connect you with any local resources that may exist.

While you’re waiting to be connected, you can also take a look at the VA’s PTSD Coach Online. It’s not a substitute for personalized therapy, but it is a place to start.

Related Domestic Abuse Content

To learn more about domestic violence or abuse, or to find more ways to get help, check out other articles in this series:

Domestic abuse can take many forms, including child abuse and economica abuse. This is Dr. Burke's story of overcoming identity theft as a survivor.

Economic Abuse: Silent Epidemic of Abused Children

Survivors of childhood abuse encounter unique challenges, even in the realm of economic abuse. Read Dr. Kenisha Burke's story of overcoming identity theft.

The Silver Lining Behind My Debt

There is a lot of stigma around debt. There is a lot of stigma around domestic abuse. But debt is a useful tool that can help you become a survivor.

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Many abuse victims don't realize their relationship is unhealthy until it is too late. Here are red flags to watch for from a domestic violence survivor.

LGBTQ+ Intimate Partner Violence

Unique Economic Obstacles for LGBTQ+ IPV Survivors

While intimate partner violence happens at a comparable rate in the LGBTQ+ community, survivors face additional financial barriers.

long term effects of ptsd

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Financial Abuse: My Partner Nearly Drained Me Dry

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Leaving an abusive relationship is difficult, complex and nuanced. One major hurdle is finances. Lessen that problem with these resources and grants.