Lara’s story and Financial Abuse

Hello, Enchanted Fam.

I just finished reading the Silent Wife by Kerry Fisher. It’s a thriller based on two-second wives to Italian Brothers. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes suspense as it is a book filled with unexpected twists and turns.

However, for this post, we will focus on Lara who is the second wife to Massimo. She was a high-powered career girl making her way up the corporate ladder when she falls in love with Massimo, who was the owner of the company and ten years her senior.  Massimo had divorced his first wife by the time they met. She falls for him because of his charm and his relentless pursuit of her affection. He would drive an hour every morning to pick her up for work and drop her back home for a whole year and showered her with gifts and praises.

She, in turn, craved his affection, in her opinion he was out of her league since he was powerful, wealthy, fit, loved by all and handsome. The start of their relationship was like a slowly blooming flower filled with gentleness and tenderness. However, that seemed to fade away soon after they had a son. A lot happens in their marriage and for the sake of those who would like to read the book, I will not get into it. I will instead focus on how he manipulated her using his financial strength.

She was given a daily allowance of not more than Ten pounds in case she needed to buy anything that ran out like the salt.  She had no access to their bank accounts and even her personal bank cards had been taken from her. She was not allowed to drive anywhere and the grocery shopping was done and paid for by Massimo. She has no funds to her name though she lacked nothing. She had designer clothes and shoes. The house was furnished with the best-imported furniture and her son lacked nothing. Her father was in a top class nursing home with the best care.

However because her father was in the best possible nursing home, Massimo would threaten her that if she ever left no one would take care of him, as she could not do it and work fill time since he had Alzheimer’s disease. He had taken her cards and slowly persuaded not to go back to work because at first, she suffered from postnatal depression and she needed to heal, then she needed to concrete on raising their son until he was old enough to go to pre-school and when he was old enough the story changed again. So slowly the walls closed in on her and she ended up a housewife who had everything and yet had nothing to her name.

The novel is interesting and the story is complex especially considering the story of the other wife married to Massimo’s brother. Buy the book here.

Lara’s story got me thinking about financial abuse and how common it is. It can start off with someone volunteering to take care of the bills and give you fewer things to stress over but they can end up pulling all the strings and you could end up like Lara, lacking nothing but with nothing.  There is a warped sense of freedom when you think someone is taking care of you financially, but true freedom comes when you embrace responsibility and make your own choices.

What is Financial Abuse?

Financial abuse prevents victims from acquiring, using or maintaining financial resources. Financial abuse is just as effective in controlling a victim as a lock and key.  In 99% of all domestic violence cases, whether you are dating or married, financial abuse helps keep victims trapped in the abusive relationship.

Like most forms of abuse, it often begins subtly and progresses over time. Financial abuse is a tactic used to control relationships by preventing access to money or other financial resources. It can be difficult for couples to navigate the complexities of finances and almost all couples have arguments about money. However, in financially healthy relationships, couples successfully negotiate their wants and needs. The following image shows the difference between how a healthy and unhealthy relationship deals with finances.

Healthy vs Unhealthy Relationships_ Finances-4

The Impact of Financial Abuse

The short and long term effects of financial abuse can be devastating. In the short term, access to assets is imperative to staying safe. Without assets, survivors are often unable to obtain safe and affordable housing or the funds to provide for themselves or their children. With realistic fears of homelessness, it is little wonder that survivors sometimes return to the battering relationship.

For those who manage to escape the abuse and survive initially, they often face overwhelming odds in obtaining long-term security and safety. Ruined credit scores, sporadic employment histories and legal issues caused by the battering make it extremely difficult to gain independence, safety, and long-term security.

What to do if you find yourself in an abusive relationship?

Contact a counselor or a local domestic abuse shelter or hotline as they will have the resources to assist you.

Do some investigative work to find financial documents and make copies of these documents to hide in a safe place.

Find a way to save some cash for yourself for emergencies or if you need to escape the relationship on short notice. This may not be easy and may be a long process but it is possible. One way of doing this is by saving change from purchases and saving it in a safe place or secret bank account or by having raises or bonuses from work deposited directly into an account that your abusive partner is unaware of.

Educate and improve your financial literacy. A good resource is  The Allstate Foundation’s Moving Ahead Through Financial Management curriculum which is a comprehensive package of tools and information designed to empower survivors to understand and manage their finances. Find it here.

Until next time, take care, share this post and remember that you are Precious!