Why do I work mostly with women? Part 2
I am continuing my series of why I work mostly with women. Click here to read part one of this series.
This month, I want to talk about spousal financial abuse, and I will start with a disclaimer that yes, I know financial abuse is not gendered specific and that men also are victims of this. This article, however, focuses on women and folks who identify as women including the non-binary.
Let me tell you a story about a client who I will call Jane (not her real name).
Jane is 35 years old and has 5 children. She has a university degree in communications and dreams of working with entrepreneurs to help them build their brand and presence.
Jane met her husband during her last year of university. He was in his last year of medical school. They fell in love almost instantly and were married three months after Jane graduated.
Jane’s husband, who I will call John, said to her that it would make more sense to start having children immediately, that way, she can stay at home with them until they are ready to start school. Once they’re in school, he said, she can then focus on her career.
By their first wedding anniversary, Jane and John had a bouncing baby boy and when he was about to turn one, John suggested that they have their second child right away. This way, she can start her career sooner, he told her. Jane felt it made sense since she had this amazing opportunity to be at home with her children, while her husband brought in good money. She enjoyed the lifestyle.
When her oldest was about to start preschool, Jane thought it would be a good idea to start looking for part-time work as a way to ease into the workforce. However, her husband didn’t think that was a good idea since he didn’t “want strangers taking care of his children” while his wife worked. It was around this time that John started talking about trying to give their sons “a baby sister”. He said a little girl would make the family complete.
Jane got pregnant for the third time and did have a beautiful little girl. Of course, now with three young children, it was very difficult to even think about work.
But Jane was intent on following her dreams and working in her field. She thought while she was at home with the children, she could do some upgrading courses in communications since it was now about 4-5 since she graduated. She signed up for an online certificate program at her local college and was very excited to start.
She expected John to be proud of her for taking the initiative to upgrade her skills but instead, he was furious. He was furious that she spent the money without first checking with him, he was furious that she felt it was ok to take time away from “his” children by attending classes, but the most hurtful of all was when he said to her that she was delusional to think that she could get a job in communications when the only experience she had was communicating with infants and toddlers.
Fast forward to now and Jane has 5 children. Jane reached out to me after hearing me on a CBC talk show about financial abuse. She didn’t know there was a name for what she was going through, and she was grateful to now have the words.
Jane explained to me that she no longer had access to any credit cards because John said she broke his trust. She didn’t even have her own bank account and John threatened to file for divorce if she ever opened her own bank account.
Within a few months of that initial call, Jane did open her own bank account AND she was the one to file for the divorce.
Jane was able to get an entry-level position in her field and is slowly building her career. She has her children 50% of the time and when she doesn’t, she spends her time writing and hiking.
Jane feels confident about her future and her finances and vows to never give up control of her finances again.
We can be in a financially abusive relationship and not realize it. Here are some things to look for:
- Withholding money and information about finances – an example of this could be that you don’t know how much money your spouse makes.
- Taking control of all the finances and making you feel that you cannot handle financial decisions.
- When you ask financial questions, it leads to arguments.
- You are given a limited spending allowance.
- Credit is opened in your name without your consent and/or damaging your credit history.
- You are forced to account for all spending or show receipts when your partner does not do the same.
- You are not allowed to work, or you are forced to work in low-paying jobs.
- Your partner spends household money (i.e., grocery money) on themselves.
- Your partner threatens to leave and not provide any financial support.
- Interfering with your job to put your employment at risk.
- Monitoring your emails, calls, texts, etc.
If you would like to reach out to me but have concerns that your spouse might see it, please send me an email or text and ask me about my bread recipe or ask me where I got my sofa.