Financial Abuse[April 20, 2017] – When we were first married, we both worked in the restaurant industry. I always had wads of cash in my apron at the end of each shift. He wanted to be helpful, and wanted to be my “personal financial assistant,” so he’d make deposits for me.

From there, he became an accountant, and he suggested that we have a joint account only. My paychecks were directly deposited into this account, which he managed. He put us on a strict allowance, and for several years, I did not even have an ATM card. I couldn’t socialize with friends and coworkers very often because I couldn’t afford it. I was completely disempowered.

I later found out that he defaulted on my student loans, mortgage and tax payments. I had no property, no credit, unpaid taxes, and huge legal bills from my two-year fight for a divorce.

I was not alone. 98% of survivors experience financial abuse. Without knowledge of financial literacy and domestic violence, the signs of financial abuse are many times very easy to miss. Also, the shame of being put on an allowance and controlled to the last penny makes opening up and asking for help really difficult.

It took me years to grasp what had happened to me, and even longer to undo the damage of many years of financial abuse. I did it. I’m still doing it penny by penny.

For those looking for resources, visit the Allstate Purple Purse Foundation:

Over the next three weeks, please join SOAR for our Economic Empowerment Tweet Chat series #talkingchange, where we'll be shining a light on the hidden truths of financial abuse through the real life stories of those who have experienced it. Follow nine brave, resourceful women from SOAR on their journey to safety and financial security. By way of their own resilience and empowerment, they have overcome abuse, and now they are #talkingchange.

- Kirsten, SOAR Member

Pictured: In June 2016, the Allstate Foundation Purple Purse launched #FreetoWalk, an awareness campaign about the barriers that keep women trapped in abusive relationships. The campaign kicked off with the release of the online film "America's Largest Prison Break," the true story of a financial abuse survivor's 700-day journey to freedom.