Podcast Episode - Survivors of Financial Abuse: A Conversation With Ayanna


Family, Financial Planning, Financial Security


November 17, 2019

Listen to Podcast Episode:

One of the focuses of the Women & Money podcast is shining the light on financial abuse. In 2018, The National Domestic Abuse Hotline teamed up with Avon & asked Suze to speak with several survivors.


Podcast Transcript:

Like that theme song? I do, I love listening to it, it kind of makes me happy every time I hear it. That's by Effie, by the way, Together We Will Rise, and you can get it on Spotify. But the words are interesting today because I'm hearing them in a different kind of mindset. And the mindset is, while it's true, together we will rise, it's also true that sometimes you just have to do it on your own. I'm thinking about that because recently I've been in communication and actually I've been in communication with this woman now for over a year, and her name is Ayanna. And Ayanna is one of the seven survivors of domestic abuse that I interviewed for Avon about a year ago, and I've been playing those interviews for you and I want to play Ayanna's interview for you today.But the reason that I'm thinking about this is that recently I got a text from Ayanna. Suze, I just have to vent, I have to vent. I work so hard, I've done everything. I went and I got a degree and now I've gotten a job, and now I only get $15 an hour, and I'm working 35 or 40 hours a week, and I have two kids. I have a seven-year-old and I have a 15-year-old. I'm out of the house by 5:00 in the morning, and then I have to go two and a half hours to get my kids into the city. She lives in New York, into the city so that they can go to a good school, and then I have to go to work. And then I have to come and pick up my kids and go back two and a half hours, and then it's all the time. It's like now it's 9:00 at night, and I don't feel well, and I broke my foot, and I'd have this, and I have that, and I don't have any food in my refrigerator, and I got to do something to get ahead. I don't understand, I'm trying so so hard. What should I do, Suze Orman?And I'm sitting there going oh, my God. It's well, you work 35 hours a week. Maybe you now need to work 45, 55, 65, 75. You need to figure this out. But Ayanna, I know that you can do this. And she gets down, she gets depressed. Then all of a sudden she comes back and she's like, this fighter. She's like, yeah, I'm going to do that. I'm gonna get a job on the weekend, I can't let my kids down, I have to do this. I'm going to do this.And while I know that it would be easy for me to help her out financially,that's not what Ayanna needs. Ayanna needs to know that against all odds, against all odds, she can do this on her own. She can pick herself and her kids up and she can rise. You know, I've had this deep belief that we're never given more than we can handle. And sometimes when you were given a lot, we have a lot on our plate, it's there to show us how strong we really are and we don't even know we are that strong. I wanted to play this interview today because it's just a week or two before Thanksgiving, and I really hope that every one of us in these weeks approaching the holidays, that we know that the true gift, the true gift I want you to be thankful for is that gift of, you have what it takes to pick yourself up. You have what it takes to rise. And as much as I know it's easier to count on others and to ask others for help and everything, in the end, it always comes down to just you. All right, let's take a listen to the interview with Ayanna.Ayanna, your story is different than all the other women because your story of abuse started when you were very, very young. You're 35 right now, you have two kids, 13-year-old and a seven-year-old. But at the age of eight is when your first abuse happened. Tell me about it.Well, my mother was traveling, she was a reggae culture singer. She used to sing with a lot of artists, she always was traveling. My father was doing his thing in the streets, and so we were with my grandmother. My grandmother took care of all the cousins, and so I was one of those kids that just went outside and would never listen. The guy across the hall used to always give me things, and when he gave me things that made me happy as a little girl. So, he did what he did, and it became a habit.And what did he do, say it?Sexually abused me.And when you were eight years old and he was sexually abusing you, you do know that you were being abused then?No.So that became your foundation off abuse without even knowing that you were being abused. Did your mother or anybody ever know about it?No, because they were really never around.And did he ever say to you, don't tell anybody?Yeah.And is this the first time that you've let it out?Yes, it is.And you're eight years old, you're being abused. When's the next time you're being abused? When I met him when I was 15.And then who is him?The father of my daughter, my firstborn.Where did you meet him?In the streets.And what attracted you to him?He made me laugh. He made me laugh, and he was brave. He was a thug, and you know, I wanted to be down. So I just started living with him.And so now you're with him, and what happens?One day he just hit me.And what? And how did he hit you? Take me there.We're home and he just punched me in the face.For what reason?I guess he was high or drunk. But I'm high and drunk with him, so I don't know. So he hits you, and what do you think?It's normal.It's normal? And what was normal about it?Because I was a fighter too, so I will hit him back.And so when you hit him back, does he hit you even harder?Black eyes, broken leg. We'd have bloody fights.And did you ever physically hurt him?A little, but not as bad. A man's strength is stronger than a woman.And now you're pregnant and you have a baby. And what happens?I came from school, we rent out the apartment and he had another woman in the bed. I sat and I just waited until they do what they did. She left and then I went into the room, and then he started to hit me. And then we just started going at it. And then I said, I'm leaving, and I left and he kicked me in my belly and I hit the steps. And I just I went and I called, I think it was Safe Horizon. And they sent me all the way to Poughkeepsie. But I never told them that I was in an abusive relationship, just that I left New York and moved to Poughkeepsie.So here you are, because when you hit your belly, it's like, nobody's going to hurt my child. And you just left, and that was it. Did you ever see him again?Yeah. When I had my daughter in the hospital in Poughkeepsie, I called him.You called him?Yeah to come, and he came and he slept in the hospital. But he wasn't in the delivery, my dad was.Then what happens to you?So I started off housekeeping, then I move up to patient transport, then I moved up to PCT, a patient care technician. And I was working there, I got my apartment, I got my car, I never was on public assistance. Everything was...Did you love that? You have freedom and independence for the first time. And then you get into another relationship?I felt lonely. I was lonely and so he gave me attention. I met my second baby father seven years after my first was born. And so I was traveling back and forth to Delaware. We had good times and everything. Then one day he just called me and said, you don't want the baby and you want nothing to do with me. And then I went into, like, I think a total breakdown when he told me to keep the pregnancy. And then at five months, I did not want to keep my baby. At five months, you make me think that we're gonna build a life after I told you everything I've been through with my first. And then you text me you don't want anything to do with me nor your child, and that was very abusive to me. Because now I'm stuck.So, you wanted an abortion and he talked you out of it? And now it's too late to have an abortion, and now you have this baby. He's out of your life and here you are a single mother of two children. What do you do?I didn't go to work, I didn't do anything. My oldest sister, she said, what are you doing? You're not eating, you're not going to work. I'm coming to get you. And she came and took me to Georgia. I left everything. I left my furniture, I left my clothes, I left everything. The landlord called me and said, what are you doing? I left my car, I had to voluntary repo it. And I went to Georgia and I stayed in that room until, only bathed and eat, until I had my second child. And my sister came into the delivery room and she said when I pushed out the baby, she said if you don't want her, I will keep her. And she took my daughter and threw it on me and say, look at your baby. And then I started to cry, and I fell right in love with her, and I have no regrets after that. And that's when I started, all right, then we do this again.I believe what I saw growing up, my mother and father fighting. I love my mother and father to death, they are amazing, but I just feel they were not guided to take care of me and my siblings. And it made me make the wrong decisions in life. And sometimes I just wanted, you know, my father to give me a hug and say it's OK, but he was always tough. So I think it started when I was young seeing it, and then when I got molested, and then it led me to the streets, and then I got affiliated in the gang, and I was dancing in the clubs, strip dancing, and everything. And I was getting beat up and hiding my abuse, you know, marks on my skin and everything. But when I had my daughter, I said no man ever going to put me in his room.What within you, within you, allows you to get through an eight-year-old being molested? A 15-year-old being abused? This, that, drugs, everything? And yet you sit here in front of me today. Why you? Why did God choose you, out of all the women that could have been chosen, to come in here and give these interviews, why you?Because he knows my heart, you know my heart is good.Do you know your heart is good?I'm now realizing that I am a good person.And what else do you know about yourself?I'm strong.Oh, you think? You think? You're really strong, aren't you? And do you have a dream for yourself?Yeah, I have a dream. I just want to help those in need, you know. I love the medical field, but I just felt the words I really can't read properly the way I pronounce things, and I was like, I'm not going to make it here. But I feel a gift when you put the human body in front of me, I know what to do. But the books, ugh.Listen to me, I never got a grade above a C I believe in college. I've been dyslexic my whole life. I've written nine, number-one New York Times Bestsellers. Ask me how many books I've ever read in my life.How many books have you ever read?None. My spelling is horrific. If it wasn't for the computer, you would think I was an absolute idiot, in terms of writing. Book learning has nothing to do with the strength that you have within you. Somebody is not ever going to hire you because of what you know, they're going to hire you because of who you are. So let's make a deal. Every thought, every word, every action that you take from this day forward has to pass through three gatekeepers. Is it kind, is it necessary, and it is true? If you think that your stupid that is not kind, it is not necessary, and it is not true, because girlfriend, I am here to tell you that your thoughts create your destiny. It is said that everything that you think you eventually say, everything that you say you eventually do. Your actions become your habits and your habits become your destiny. You have got to think great thoughts about yourself. You've got to say great thoughts about yourself because it's one thing to let somebody else abuse you. OK. It's another thing when you abuse yourself. Girlfriend, you have a long life ahead of you, your past is not going to define your future. You can create your future, but only when you have a belief in who you are, just like you are. You got that? I love you. All right, thank you. I love you too. Good. Remember, if you are being abused or you know someone who is being abused, please reach out to the National Domestic Violence Hotline or Purple First or write to me here at AskedSuzePodcast@gmail.com. In providing answers neither Suze Orman Media nor Suze Orman is acting as a Certified Financial Planner, advisor, a Certified Financial Analyst, an economist, CPA, accountant, or lawyer. Neither Suze Orman Media nor Suze Orman makes any recommendations as to any specific securities or investments. All content is for informational and general purposes only and does not constitute financial, accounting or legal advice. You should consult your own tax, legal and financial advisors regarding your particular situation. Neither Suze Orman Media nor Suze Orman accepts any responsibility for any loss, which may arise from accessing or reliance on the information in this podcast and to the fullest extent permitted by law, we exclude all liability for loss or damages, direct or indirect, arising from use of the information. To find the right Credit Union for you, visit https://www.mycreditunion.gov/. Interested in Suze's Must Have Documents? Go to https://shop.suzeorman.com/checkout/cart/index/.

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