Eco­nomic abuse is abuse

The Saratogian (Saratoga, NY) - - YOUR DAILY BREAK - An­nie Lane

DEAR AN­NIE >> I’ve been mar­ried for nearly 32 years to a fi­nan­cially abu­sive bully. For many years, when­ever I took out money that I needed with­out first seek­ing his ap­proval, he’d pun­ish me. His method for do­ing this was to ask me to go to the bank to get money out; when I’d try to do so, the tell­ers would let me know that there was not enough money in the ac­count — be­cause he’d with­drawn nearly all of the money and opened his own ac­counts with­out my name on them! See­ing the tell­ers whis­per and snicker to each other was so em­bar­rass­ing, and it was hurt­ful that he’d de­lib­er­ately hu­mil­i­ate me that way.

Some years ago, an at­tor­ney told him never to do this, and for the past five years he has not. But to this day, if I take money out of any ac­count, even for some­thing im­por­tant, his dirty looks, silent treat­ment and yelling and scream­ing are un­bear­able!

I don’t want to live like this any­more, but I’m afraid to leave. Any ad­vice?

— Bul­lied

DEAR BUL­LIED >> Your hus­band’s be­hav­ior is in­deed abu­sive. The Na­tional Do­mes­tic Vi­o­lence Hot­line de­scribes eco­nomic abusers as achiev­ing power over their part­ners in some of the fol­low­ing ways: “pre­vent­ing her from get­ting a job; mak­ing her ask for money; giv­ing her an al­lowance; tak­ing her money; not let­ting her know about or have ac­cess to fam­ily in­come.” To de­mean some­one this way, to de­lib­er­ately make them feel small and pow­er­less, is the op­po­site of love.

For your safety, it’s im­por­tant to for­mu­late an exit strat­egy that in­cludes the sup­port of a coun­selor, le­gal ad­viser and at least one trusted friend. For fur­ther guid­ance, I’d en­cour­age you to call the Na­tional Do­mes­tic Vi­o­lence Hot­line (1-800-7997233), which is avail­able 24/7, or visit their web­site (the­hot­line.org). Hold fast to the knowl­edge that you are wor­thy of so much more.

DEAR AN­NIE >> About two years ago, my hus­band had a re­la­tion­ship with another woman. The only rea­son I found out was that she called my home and told me all the sor­did de­tails. He then ad­mit­ted it was all true. My ques­tion to you now is: Should I trust him again or leave him?

— Tor­tured

DEAR TOR­TURED >> In­deed, those are the op­tions — be­cause you can­not stay with him with­out trusting him. But you can’t sim­ply force your­self to trust him, ei­ther. You’re go­ing to need a lot of help to get to that point.

Talk to your hus­band about seek­ing out that help to­gether through mar­riage coun­sel­ing.

Know that coun­sel­ing doesn’t have to be an in­def­i­nite, on­go­ing thing; even a few ses­sions can help equip you both with tools for re­pair­ing trust and re­build­ing your re­la­tion­ship. By do­ing the work, you two can come out the other side with a stronger foun­da­tion than ever.

DEAR AN­NIE >> My grown chil­dren don’t re­ally need any­thing for Christ­mas, so this year I did a fam­ily his­tory for them. I have books that were put to­gether by my mother and cousins. I also copied old pic­tures of my par­ents, grand­par­ents and great­grand­par­ents.

I sent some to my younger sib­lings, too, be­cause I re­al­ized while talk­ing to them that they were get­ting some of the fam­ily his­tory wrong, and I wanted them to know the cor­rect in­for­ma­tion.

— Jill, Wash­ing­ton

DEAR JILL >> What a beau­ti­ful gift, honor­ing your fam­ily in such a way. That is some­thing that ev­ery­one will keep for years to come. Thank you for shar­ing.

“Ask Me Any­thing: A Year of Ad­vice From Dear An­nie” is out now! An­nie Lane’s de­but book — fea­tur­ing fa­vorite col­umns on love, friend­ship, fam­ily and eti­quette — is avail­able as a pa­per­back and e-book. Visit http:// www. cre­ators pub­lish­ing. com for more in­for­ma­tion. Send your ques­tions for An­nie Lane to dear­an­[email protected]­ators.com.

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