The statistics are staggering. Researchers now estimate that one in four women — 25 percent — has experienced domestic violence in her lifetime, and that in the U.S., more than five million women are physically abused by their husbands or boyfriends each year.
Compounding the problem, many of these women are unable to break free from their abusive relationships. Why? Because not only do abused women live in constant fear, they also feel powerless. Since their controlling husbands can be extremely secretive about financial matters, women in abusive marriages typically know very little about their family finances or how to establish their own financial independence.
Unfortunately, I’ve seen this scenario play out all too frequently: A woman finally takes steps to initiate divorce proceedings only to discover her abusive husband controls all the purse strings — and the house, the cars and everything that’s in the portfolio, too. She’s left with very few options, and if that wasn’t difficult enough, when there are children involved, the circumstances become infinitely more emotional and more complex.
But abused women don’t have to feel hopeless. They don’t have to feel trapped, with nowhere to turn.
Over the years, I have been retained by several women who have managed to get the professional support they need to break free from their abusers and eventually, start new lives grounded in secure personal finances. Yes, it can be done — but that doesn’t mean it will be easy.
Clearly, women ending abusive marriages need to take all the same financial steps that any woman going through a divorce needs to take. However, in most cases, each one of these steps will be exceedingly more complicated (and potentially dangerous). For example, as I have already mentioned, an abused woman may not have discretionary access to marital funds, and her controlling husband may demand a precise accounting of every penny spent from a checking account or on a credit card.
Read more: Jeffrey Landers, Huffington Post