The presents are opened, the festive dinner is well and truly eaten – and in the Christmas aftermath, the mammoth cleanup lies ahead! Today, here’s some thoughts on taking out the trash and tackling financial abuse.
“Have nothing in your home that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.”—William Morris
DAY NINE if you are living with your abuser
Your abuser is the King of Chaos. Not only does he refuse to help with household chores (wouldn’t we all like to abdicate responsibility on that?), he leaves a trail of emotional, financial, and personal devastation in his wake as he bounces from one crisis to another. It’s exhausting looking after this adult-child – especially since the mess that he creates is vastly harder to fix up than your toddler’s!
WHY NOT do this today?
While he sits around like an ugly Christmas ornament you’ve inherited from your Great Aunt Mabel but haven’t yet had the heart to throw out, you can get started on clearing out some of the trash. I don’t mean slinging his beer cans into the rubbish bin (though you’ll doubtless do that too). I mean getting your finances in order – and in doing so, giving yourself more options you may need in future. Here’s some things to think about:
- If you share an account bank or checking account, can you open one in just your name? You can use this to secretly squirrel money away – cash that you’ll need to gain more financial independence, or to use as an escape fund. If you have a trusted family member, perhaps you could give their address so financial correspondence never comes to the home you share with your abuser. Or, consider an online account, which you can access wherever you are and don’t come with the worry of him finding your paper bank statement.
- If you already have your own bank account, change your PIN and consider opening a new one instead. This will protect you if he tries to empty your account or siphon off cash to pay for whatever illicit habit is currently flavour of the month.
- Think about whether you can get your name taken off any joint credit cards. If there are any deals on credit cards, perhaps you can suggest that he does a balance transfer (preferably solely in his name) to get that good interest rate!
- If you have your own credit card, go ahead and get that PIN changed so he can’t use and abuse it.
- Investigate what benefits, grants and other support you may be entitled to if you choose to leave your abuser. Women’s Aid provide a useful guide to money issues for women in the UK.
DAY NINE if you have escaped your abuser
You’ve probably already severed most of the financial ties to your abuser, but how about those emotional ones? If you’re anything like me, you’ve a secret horde of mementos of happier times that you just can’t bear to part with yet. Still, these personal items are regular triggers back to happier days before he let his mask slip, or – even worse – they set off a train of painful memories.
WHY NOT do this today?
Today, lets de-clutter! If you have children, you may want to keep a few items for their sake. If they are old enough to ask – ask them what they want to keep, and give them a shoebox in which they can store the trinkets themselves, so you don’t have to. If they are too young, pick out a few bits and pieces – such as photos of him and any sentimental jewelry – and store them safely away in a box marked DO NOT OPEN, until the kids are old enough to receive them.
That done, everything else is disposable. So lets do it! Gather together photos, ticket stubs, that pair of old socks, the half-empty bottle of aftershave, the vase in which you placed his first bunch of flowers, that pair of ‘I’m sorry’ earrings…
Items with any value – such as gold jewelry, CDs etc – can be sold. You can use the money to treat yourself and the kids, so buy something beautiful with the money. Something he’d never let you buy, or which reminds you that life is too precious to be wasted on a loser.
Other things will make a great bonfire of the vanities. If you wish, you could make it something of a ceremony (though you need only dance around the firepit if you want to!) As you consign each item to the flames, draw up the memory that it holds, and burn them both. Watch the smoke rise and dissipate into the air, never to be seen again.
Check out my post, An Abuse Survivor’s Guide to Christmas, for more tips on keeping safe and happy this festive season.
© Avalanche of the Soul, 2013-14