If you’re in an abusive relationship, finding a way to leave is almost impossible at times. You may feel stuck, afraid, threatened, and fragile. First and most importantly, if you haven’t already, call the domestic violence hotline at 1.800.799.SAFE (7233). They can help you.
If you’re ready to leave your situation, you’ll want to keep a few things in mind financially. Often, abusers take away financial support and resources so that we can’t leave. It can feel terrifying to think that you’d be left with nothing if you did leave. However, there are options.
Here are six financial tips and support options for women leaving in a domestic violence situation.
1. Open a Bank Account
For some women in abusive situations, opening a bank account may not be possible. Perhaps your partner is always watching you or doesn’t let you leave the house without them. There are some possible ways around this.
If you do have access to a phone, tablet, or computer, you can open a bank account online. Some accounts are entirely online and don’t require a considerable credit check. You can open it entirely in your name, and they can send your card to any address. If you don’t want to send a debit card to your address for safety reasons, see if you can send it to a family member or friend who can safely deliver it to you.
If you do not have the option to set up an account online, you may only have the option to set up a bank account once you leave. Have someone accompany you to the bank when you’re in a safe location. If you don’t have anyone, a domestic abuse advocate may be able to help you. You’ll want to have this bank account, so none of your assets are tied to your abuser.
2. Save Up Money
If you do not have a job, it may be hard to find ways to save money while still in an abusive situation. Here are some ideas that may work for you:
- Offer to babysit while your partner is at work
- Offer dog-walking through an app
- Make arts and crafts at home and open an Etsy shop to sell them
- If you have children, offer baked goods for their school’s bake sale
- Sell fruits and vegetables or eggs from your farm
- Try freelance work online
If you do not have a bank account or card to send money to, you may want to try the options that allow you to get paid in cash, such as babysitting and dog walking or even housekeeping. Put your money in a safe location where no one can find it.
When you’re ready to leave, take the money with you, and once you open a bank account, deposit it and take out a debit card.
You may also want to take out a personal loan if your credit score is good. Some lenders offer higher rates for those with a lower or average score, which you can still apply for. You may need to have a job secured before applying for a loan.
3. Find Someone to Support You
Some people in abusive situations do not have family or friends to support them. A lot of times, abusers can take away your social resources and turn people against you. It is an abuse tactic called isolation. This tactic is especially easy during the Covid-19 pandemic, where abuse rates have risen with isolation.
If you feel that you are alone, move to the next step. If you do have someone in your life, read this section.
It may be hard to let someone in your family or social circle know that you’re in domestic violence or emotionally abusive situations. If your partner is always listening in on calls or checking your history, you may not know how to do it. Here are some great ideas for getting the word out on getting support:
- Write a letter to the person letting them know your situation and the day you plan to leave. Ask them if you can stay with them until you find a better resource.
- If you have the ability, purchase a cheap pay-per-use phone at Walmart or another store. Call or text your friend/family member and let them know you need help. Call the domestic abuse hotline listed above as well.
- Ask your social network if they can help you find somewhere to live or financial resources in your area.
If you’re in a life-threatening situation, always call 911. If you can’t let your partner know you’re on the phone with 911, have someone else call for you or try ordering a pizza. The person on the other line may understand that you need help and will ask you some yes or no questions.
4. Find Financial Resources in Your Area
You’ll want to find resources in your area before leaving. Many cities have a domestic abuse shelter, which offers somewhere to stay for women leaving abusive relationships.
The great thing about these shelters is that many of them also offer financial advice and help get a job. They will help you contact authorities, go through court, go through a divorce, and even help find resources for your children and custody.
If you don’t know of a shelter, the domestic abuse hotline can help you find one. You may also be able to find a free or low-cost abuse advocate to help you out. If you have health insurance, you can also start therapy.
5. File for Divorce Once You’re Out
Financially, you’ll want to cut yourself out of your partner’s life as soon as possible. Filing for divorce gets things started on that front. Having a domestic abuse advocate or family to help you in court may be necessary. Your partner may file for an uncontested divorce, and you may go through some custody battles.
Depending on your original marriage contract, you may not get to keep some things from the marriage. However, in some cases, the abusive partner has to pay settlements and child support, which can be extremely helpful when you’re getting back on your feet.
You may want to also consider filing for a restraining order.
If you want to learn more about domestic violence, check out BetterHelp’s advice section here: https://www.betterhelp.com/advice/domestic-violence/.