At the beginning, her story made everyone envious. Carla was a 21-year-old backpacker and met a handsome, successful French man in Paris and they fell in love. They both thought it would be a holiday romance. But it wasn’t. After years of Carla travelling between Australia and Paris they flew family and a few friends to be together and they married.
Their life was so shiny. They holidayed in exotic locations and lived in a beautiful apartment overlooking markets on the Right Bank. Even though she had a university degree, Carla never needed a “proper” job in Paris and she worked a few days a week in an English speaking book store. They had three children and Carla stayed at home to raise them.
She missed Australia, but thought everything was fine. This was her life. Kids and school, activities, weekends away and looking after her family. Her husband looked after the finances. He gave her a very generous allowance every week to live off and he liked to know how she spent it. He worked hard. He was also working hard at having affairs and when they started divorce proceedings when the youngest was six she found she didn’t even know how much money he made a year, or where all his bank accounts were, or that her name wasn’t on the title for their seaside property.
Carla hadn’t had a job for 12 years. She had no support network. She never had to worry about finances. The only thing Carla knew was that she was going to lose in this divorce. He had been planning this day for a long time.
In Australia, three in five women in relationships are leaving themselves open to financial abuse, this is according to recent research by CoreData.
Three in five women are vulnerable because they don’t have assets or savings of their own. Maybe they’ve left the workforce to have children, maybe they’ve returned to the work force part-time. Maybe everything is in their partner’s name, because their partner is the breadwinner and “takes control” of the finances.
However it’s happened, these women are exposed.
And this financial exposure so often comes alongside, and can even enable, domestic violence and other forms of abuse. Staying in a abusive relationship is all the more likely, when you can’t afford to leave.
Women share experiences of emotional abuse on Twitter. Post continues below video.
Financial abuse can be tricky though. It’s not always so easy to pin-point, and can often be hidden under the guise of ‘providing for the family’ or ‘freeing you up for more time with the kids’.
Signs to look out for include:
“Oh that’s not your concern, you don’t have to worry about that.”
This type of language, alongside secrecy around earning and spending, renders one person powerless and allows one person complete control. It might be used when talking about finances in general, or in the specifics of buying and selling properties and assets.
Knowledge, after all, is power. If one person is aware of what’s going on financially, they’re going to be more prepared and equipped to make decisions that will steer the relationship (or the separation, if it comes to that). The other person will have no choice but to follow along – they don’t know the state of things, so they have no idea of their options.