Tag Archives: Domestic Violence

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:

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

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

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 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:

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.

Getting Help: LGBTQ+ Domestic Violence Survivors

Note: This post may contain triggers for those who have been in abusive relationships.

The month of October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. To highlight the issues that victims face physically, emotionally and economically, Femme Frugality will be discussing the issue every Friday. We will do this through a mix of stories, conversations and factual articles. To help raise awareness, please use the hashtag #DVAM when sharing these articles.

Today we are joined by Andi Tremonte of The Utah Domestic Violence Coalition. Andi is the rural LGBTQ+ cultural competency trainer for the organization. He trains domestic violence shelters, police stations and other organizations that serve survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence on how to effectively advocate for survivors from the LGBTQ+ community and other under-served populations.

To support UDVC’s mission, you can make a tax-deductible donation here.

I didn't realize how many barriers---or resources---there were when you are an LGBTQ+ domestic violence survivor.

Domestic Violence in the LGBTQ+ Community and Self-Reporting

Rates of occurrence of domestic violence are the same across heteronormative and LGBTQ populations.

Traditionally, “domestic violence” has referred to a woman that has been battered by a man, but through research we see reported rates of abuse being comparable in each population.

In my experience, I have seen far less survivors of intimate partner violence (AKA domestic violence) who openly identify as LGBTQ+ when seeking services. This is where we see the many barriers that the LGBTQ+ community faces when seeking even basic services.

The number of survivors who seek services will differ from the number of survivors who self-report intimate partner violence in surveys. Think for a moment about the barriers to each of these information sources. On one hand, we have a survey that may be administered at a known LGBTQ+ resource center, so the participants will mostly fall on the LGBTQ+ spectrum. However, in many domestic violence shelters this identifying information may not be collected or the survivor may not disclose their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Your Rights as an LGBTQ+ Survivor

VAWA 2013 (Violence Against Women Act revision of 2013) included protections for Gender Identity, Sexual Orientation, and Gender Expression. What this means is that all services are available for any survivor, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.

This is a wonderful tool that is used to help create more options for seeking and receiving services.

However, there are many places that do not have the cultural competency needed to effectively serve LGBTQ+ survivors. This includes how to safety plan for LGBTQ+ survivors–specifically for trans survivors. There are many things we have to be aware of when doing safety planning for this population.

First, trans folks may need copies of important documents, like name change, gender change, or update birth certificates.

Second, when safely planning for LGBTQ+ folks, isolation is a big issue. Instead of forcing a survivor to avoid the LGBTQ+ community, there would need to be planning around rebuilding a support system from that community and the possibilities of interacting with the abuser.

Bathroom and housing issues seem to rise when a trans survivor comes into shelter, but VAWA has guidelines for this. It is important to let a trans survivor choose where they stay. A trans woman should be allowed to be in women’s housing and the support group of their choosing.

We need to remember that it is not acceptable in any way to ask a trans survivor about their genitals, trans related surgeries or if they are on certain hormones. This is not information that is needed to serve that survivor. Gender identity should not be an issue or discussed with any other survivor. VAWA has specific privacy requirements related to any identifying information or combination of information.

Cultural Barriers to Accessing Resources

Historically we have seen domestic violence as a very heteronormative crime. We see this reflected in the names of organizations that service survivors of intimate partner violence.

Shelter names like “Women’s Crisis Center” can be very off putting for male and trans survivors. Transgender survivors have their identity constantly questioned and when seeking services. If there is no attempt to be inclusive, trauma informed and culturally competent then that survivor is less likely to continue to seek services. One of the main barriers is being outed.

For a trans person, being outed can be the difference between life and death.

There are many barriers that male survivors face. We live in a society where masculinity hinders men’s ability to express emotions in a healthy way, admit they were victimized and seek help when needed. We have this pressure for men to be strong, masculine, always ready for sex, aggressive and violent. This can make seeking services very difficult.

Masculinity is fragile and needs to be constantly proven, making reporting for men that much more difficult.

Abuse Tactics Unique to LGBTQ+ Survivors

Understanding unique abuse tactics that are used against LGBTQ+ survivors is extremely important. Specific abuse tactics  can include, but are not limited to:

  • being outed.
  • isolation from the community.
  • inability to attend support groups.
  • blaming abuse on the survivor’s identity (i.e. if they were not gay then they would not be in this situation.)
  • being told that abuse is normal in LGBTQ+ relationships.

Looking at this small list of abuse tactics may seem like there are not many differences between the experiences between LGBTQ+ survivors and other survivors, however, the big piece of this is that these tactics are aimed at the person’s LGBTQ+ identity.

Often, we see a person’s identity being blamed for their abuse, especially when they seek services or help. Someone’s gender identity or sexual orientation is never a reason why someone deserves to be abused.

No one ever deserves to be abused.

This is a way to victim blame LGBTQ+ survivors. They caused their own abuse by choosing to be LGBTQ+.

Trans survivors face additional abuse tactics. Things like:

  • misgendering (using wrong pronouns and names.)
  • saying, “You’re not a real man/woman.”
  • withholding medical attention or hormones.
  • using “it” pronouns.

Notice how many of these tactics are dehumanizing. They strip the survivor of their identity and humanity, they are reduced to objects.

On Being Outed: Non-Discrimination Acts are Important for Everyone

When someone is outed, meaning, their gender identity or sexual orientation is disclosed intentionally or unintentionally, it can lead to disastrous consequences. In places without Non-Discrimination Acts (NDA,) LGBTQ+ folks can lose their job or their housing based on a LGBTQ+ identity.

This is on top of the other losses that an LGBTQ+ person can face if outed, like loss of community, family, friends, support systems and religious affiliations, to name a few.

This highlights the importance of NDA for everyone, not just LGBTQ+ folks. Without NDA, people can lose their job or housing based on the perception of an LGBTQ+ identity. That means regardless if you do or do not have and LGBTQ+ identity, you can face discrimination if you are thought to have an LGBTQ+ identity.

NDA can help to lower barriers for survivors and help them heal after abuse.

LGBTQ+ Relationships are Not Based on Abuse

LGBTQ+ relationships are not based on abuse. LGBTQ relationships have similar dynamics to heterosexual relationships. The biggest difference would be the lack of traditional gender roles, which allows more freedom within the relationship. People choose their roles, rather than having them chosen for them because of gender.

What to Do if You’re LGBTQ+ and in an Abusive Relationship

Go to a domestic violence center/shelter and meet with an advocate. They can help you with protective orders, safety planning and offer other services that can greatly increase your safety.

Remember that the most dangerous time for a survivor is when they are about to leave and right after they leave their abuser. A significantly higher amount of people are killed by their abusive partner after they have left the situation.

Please, get the support of your local domestic violence service. Call the national line or a local hotline. The best thing you can do is have support.

Additionally, get a hold of your local LGBTQ+ resource center and see what support they can give for survivors. Local and state coalitions for sexual assault and domestic violence prevention are a great tool, as well!

National Resources

Thank you so much to Andi for sharing his expertise with us today! If you are seeking out resources for LGBTQ+ survivors and don’t know where to start, here are some at the national level:

National Domestic Violence Hotline

National Coalition Against Domestic Violence

RAINN

National Network to end Domestic Violence

Local Resources

While the following resources certainly don’t cover everything available across the entire country, they are good local resources for specific regions:

Utah Domestic Violence Coalition Utah

The NW Network Pacific Northwest

The Network la Red Boston, Massachusetts

The Anti-Violence Project New York City

Domestic Violence Brochures

Andi has also been kind enough to provide us with the following brochures to further assist readers:

Healthy LGBTQ Relationships

LGBTQ Dating Safety

Intimate Partner Violence

LGBTQ Intimate Partner Violence

Asexual Intimate Partner Violence

Bisexual Intimate Partner Violence

Intersex Intimate Partner Violence

Non-Binary Intimate Partner Violence

Trans Intimate Partner Violence

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:

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.

Financial Abuse: My Partner Nearly Drained Me Dry

Note: This post may contain triggers for those who have been in abusive relationships.

The month of October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. To highlight the issues that victims face physically, emotionally and economically, Femme Frugality will be discussing the issue every Friday. We will do this through a mix of stories, conversations and factual articles. To help raise awareness, please use the hashtag #DVAM when sharing these articles.

Today an anonymous reader joins us to share their story about the other side of financial abuse. While some partners exercise this abuse by limiting the amount of income you are able to bring in, others will go to the opposite end of the spectrum and take advantage of you if you are the sole or primary breadwinner.

Thank you to today’s contributor for having the courage to share their story, and for having the wherewithal to acknowledge that this, too, is financial abuse.

I didn't realize that financial abuse is also when your partner tries to drain you dry...

I don’t like to think that I was in a financially abusive relationship. It’s hard to see it that way. Horrible to think that the person you love would take advantage of you.

But if it had been somebody else’s relationship that I was observing as an outsider, I would have called it financial abuse without hesitation and urged her to call it quits a lot earlier.

I can’t pinpoint exactly when a once functional relationship deteriorated into an unhealthy one. I suspect it was a slow and gradual decay rather than an overnight switch.

All this happened over the course of couple of years. He was in and out of employment during this time, with some temp/contract/casual stints in there too. In the meantime I changed jobs twice, enjoying significant pay rises each time. It hurts to think about how much further ahead I could be by now if we’d both been working that whole time – but there’s no point dwelling on what could have been.

In a way, I think that exacerbated the issue. I was bringing in even more than before, so what was the problem? Numbers-wise, I could support us both, so that gave him some room to figure things out, right? Earning more eased the pressure for sure, but it made me even more resentful, because I wasn’t really able to benefit from the money personally.

At the same time, I was also hustling and freelancing on top of all that. Busting my ass to earn as much as I could so that I could actually save money even while supporting two people on my income.

If I was underemployed or unemployed, you can bet I would be sticking to a budget. Looking for every opportunity to save money. Putting 150% into job hunting. Doing anything I could to earn money wherever I could. And taking care of everything at home.

The same was not true in reverse. Overspending, instead of frugality. Not pulling his weight around the house. What often seemed to be a half-hearted effort at job searching. And most egregiously, lending money to others – small amounts here and there, but still, lending my money, without asking. Nearly every time I logged in to look at our account history I would find unpleasant surprises. After multiple instances of this, I realized I could no longer trust him.

I accept and understand there were almost certainly issues at play on his side – loss of self confidence, maybe even mild depression, etc.

But what it came down to was the fact that the toll of being the sole income earner (while he failed to contribute to the relationship in any significant way) was seriously impacting my well-being – physical, mental, emotional. Stress is a killer. It finds its way out, one way or another.

I stuck in there until I could no longer ignore the ongoing effects on my health. That’s when I knew things had to change.

I felt like I was letting him down. Abandoning him at his lowest. I worried about what he would do and how he would support himself. But I realized that ultimately, I am not responsible for anybody else. I had willingly shouldered that burden for so long, and the only thing stopping me from letting it go was myself.

There’s a great list in this BBC piece on the 10 common signs of financial abuse that I recently came across. In hindsight, I could have ticked off a few more of those than I’d like to admit.

  • takes important financial decisions without you
  • uses your credit/debit card without asking
  • controls your access to money, through credit cards or a bank account
  • takes your benefit payments, or wages
  • refuses to contribute to household bills or children’s expenses
  • puts bills in your name, but does not contribute to them
  • takes out loans in your name – but does not help with repayments
  • takes money from your purse/ bank account
  • stops you working
  • uses you as a free source of labor

In my case, supporting a partner through a rough patch devolved into being taken for granted and taken advantage of, whether or not either of us truly realized it at the time.

I can safely say I’ll never make the same mistake again.

 

 

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:

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.