What I Wasn’t Prepared for When Leaving My Abuser
Guest Post by “Julie”
It’s the little things that caught me off guard. As a victim trying to escape the anguish my children and I were living in, I was encouraged to watch other victims of domestic abuse leave their abusers. But then they’d go back. It seemed to me that they would always return is because of money. My abuser controlled all my income, so I got a very part-time second job without telling him. I saved up for six months to finally be able to afford to leave. It was a huge amount to me at the time, what I thought would cover the children and me until child support and other assistance would kick in.
There would be no going back for me. I’d already done that once with his promises to change. He seemingly transformed overnight into a repentant man who’d rediscovered Jesus. The abuse was worse after that and was even more hidden as he played up his newfound role of living a life of holiness. I saved enough to budget for two months’ worth of rent, bills, gas, groceries. The child support agent told me it took 4-6 weeks for that process and I knew food stamps would be similar. I thought if I could make it until then, I’d be okay and could work on building my income. It was as solid of a plan as I could make and I didn’t have any more time. I never knew what would cause the next explosion and if he would target me or the children.
I stepped out bravely into what I thought would be rebuilding my new life. I wasn’t expecting a gazillion trips to my attorney’s office, the domestic abuse center, and court, including parking fees each day I had to go. I wasn’t expecting medical appointments for the children and the expenses that my husband refused to reimburse. Child support took six months to get settled. None of that was in my plan. I ran out of money after one and a half months. My bills were starting to hit past due dates. I opened a few credit cards and mostly maxed them out with attorney fees and living expenses. I fed my children by going to food banks twice a week. I often went without myself because there just wasn’t enough food to go around.
Luckily for me, Called to Peace was there. They helped me catch up on past due bills and gave me gift cards for gas. I felt like I could breathe a little. In a few months, my income increased because I was able to work more. Some months I was still short, and those gas cards were what I remember because I carried it with me. For me, a gas card is not just another bill, but someone telling me they think I’m valuable enough to be able to get out in the world and take care of business. The gas cards represented someone believing I deserved a better life so much that they were willing to invest in it. They meant someone trusted me to use gas wisely.
In my marriage, I’d been given a strict gas budget for my vehicle and was out of luck if it was used and I still had places to go, including work and church- even if it had been used up because my husband had driven the vehicle, even if it was used because of extra medical appointments. I was harshly criticized if I ran out because “You should have budgeted better.”
Called to Peace understood the financial valley I was trying to climb out of because it’s so common for a woman in an abusive household to have these same challenges. I’ve watched fellow survivors climb out of the same valleys. At one time, I was working for five companies. I still work for more than one company, but I only made it this far because Called to Peace helped me. Since then, I’ve gotten a promotion at work. I can pay all my bills. I’m working to pay off the massive debts, but I know I’ll make it. My confidence has a lot to do with Called to Peace believing in me, which they demonstrated to me with gas cards, advocacy, counseling, and a lot of prayer and love.
If you would like to help other women like “Julie” who are facing economic hardship, please prayerfully consider donating to Called to Peace Ministries’ Emergency Fund by visiting www.calledtopeace.org— 100% of contributions to this fund go directly to help victims and survivors of domestic abuse.