Women that have suffered through an abusive relationship face many of the same hurdles than any women do when going through a divorce. The only difference is that each step of the long divorce process is made more difficult by the looming presence of an abusive spouse.
It’s often the case that women in abusive relationships have no access to money, no financial documents, no clue of how much money exists in the accounts or how many accounts there are to begin with. They may not have a credit card or checking account in their own name and may be used to detailing how every penny has been spent. Such controlling relationships present ample opportunities for the husband to squirrel away assets because, after all, questioning isn’t permitted.
If you feel trapped in an abusive relationship, there are steps you can take to begin to secure your finances and prepare for an exit. If it can be done safely, you should consider the following suggestions:
• Get a post office box so you can get your mail safely and securely.
• Open a bank account in your own name and start putting away money. Make sure your paycheck is direct deposited into your account rather than the joint checking.
• Keep copies of your important paperwork, including bank statements, marriage certificates, social security numbers, etc. It’s probably a good idea to have a safe place outside of the home to store such documents.
• Obtain a credit card so you have access to money if you find yourself cut off from your husband.
• Open a new, private email account that you can use to securely communicate with an attorney and other divorce professionals. You can even use a public library to access the account if you’re worried that your home computer is not safe or has malware or key logging software installed.
• Change your PIN’s to a number that your husband won’t easily guess.
• If at all possible, avoid signing any documents handed to you by your husband.
• Finally, and most important, make arrangements with family or friends for you and your children to move out of the house at a safe time.
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