August 09, 2020
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On this podcast of Women & Money, Suze shares an email from podcast listener Natalie, who describes her heartbreaking experience with financial abuse.
Suze Orman's Women and Money podcast is proudly sponsored by credit unions; a safe home for your money, rain or shine. Suze O. here. Now, listen to me, everybody. While I am healing, Sarah and Robert are going to present the following "Best Of" episode of the Women and Money podcast, as well as the men smart enough to listen, and briefly explain why they chose it for you to hear. So, everybody, enjoy the "Best Of" podcast. See you soon. Hi everyone, this is Sarah, and this is Robert. Today is Sunday, August 9, 2020. Uh, already August 9. So here we are on episode five of the "Best Of Best Of" episodes and today, we picked a really important one. But before we do that, I wanted to read a few messages for Suze because I know she's listening as she continues to recover at home in Florida. So Suze, Fran Steal says, hi, Suze. Stay strong, girlfriend, you got this. Corrie James says, Suze, your grit and determination are inspiring, and we know you're putting in all the hard work to get well. OK, so remember, if you've got a message for Suze and you want us to read it on the podcast, all you have to do is log in to the free, 100% free, Women and Money Community app. You can download it on the Apple App Store or Google Play, and all you need to do is search Suze Orman and it will come right to the top of the feed. OK, Robert, what do we have cued up for today? Well, Sarah, today's highlight it's a little heavy, but really, really worth hearing. The episode was called Changing the World, One Woman at a Time, and it was originally published on June 9, 2019. Now, lately, there's been a lot in the news about injustice, and we figured it may be a good time to remind ourselves about financial abuse. And one of the important takeaways that came out as we were putting this episode together was, are we asking the right questions? Are we having the right conversations? And are we speaking up specifically around abuse and financial abuse? And it's a question that I, as one of the men smart enough to listen, ask myself regularly. Are we doing enough? You're right, Robert. And I also think right now it's important, you know, financial abuse is actually really a lot more prominent than people think. Suze's done a lot of work on this, and I think it's really important to remind everybody, if you're a victim of financial abuse or you know somebody, or really any type of domestic abuse, you should head to www.TheHotline.org for support. We love the work they do. They've got great resources and it's completely confidential and they will help you on the path, on a path forward. So with that, Robert, are we ready to roll the tape and get into this one? Yes, we are Sarah. So remember, listening is so vital. So why don't we all do that right now? Sometimes when I sit down to do these podcasts and think, what is it that you really want to hear? What is it that I can talk with you about to make your lives be what I know you want them to be? Yes, I can give you financial lessons. I can tell you whether you should have a trust or not. You should have one in most cases by the way. Should you have a Roth or a traditional retirement account? You should have a Roth by the way, in most cases. Should you be investing in, should you be doing this? What about real estate? What about that? What about life insurance, which I hate in most cases unless it's term. I can tell you all that, but what it's really about, is it's about you. You know I'm the expert in personal finance. Sometimes people come up to me and say, what stocks should I buy? Where should I invest? What about marijuana stocks? What about Bitcoin? What do you think? And then I ask them simple questions such as, do you have debt? Yes. Are you having at least an eight-month emergency fund? No. All these things, credit card debt, emergency funds, student loan debt, and they say to me, no, I still have it. I go, well how old are you? And they go 50, and I go, and you're asking me about where to invest? And you still have student loan debt? Do you want to know one shocking thing about student loan debt, is that one in five people today that have student loans, those are people who are 50 years of age or older? Think about that. One in five of the $1.5 trillion that we have in student loan debt, $250 billion of it is with people who are older. They've been paying on the student loan debt forever. And when I really get into it and talk to them about it they say, well Suze, truthfully, I started to save. Everything was great and then all of a sudden, I got behind on everything. My spouse left me, I couldn't pay any of my bills, and so I just stopped paying my student loan debt and it just skyrocketed on me. It doubled, it tripled or quadrupled. So really, I have this debt because of the relationship that I was in. And then I go on to talk to them about the relationship that they were in, and nine out of 10 times, once again, we come back to financial abuse. This is a big topic everybody, financial abuse, and it can happen at the most subtle levels. People are still coming up to me today and they're still saying to me, what is this financial abuse that you are talking about? Can you just give me a definition of it? And even a little bit ago when I was on the island, you know I live on an island in the Bahamas, some man came up to me, this great man, and he said to me Suze, do you think I'm financially abusive to my wife? And I said, what would make you think that? And he said, I've been listening to you talk about financial abuse. When we're out to dinner, you're sitting at a table next to me, or whatever it is, you're always talking about it. And I'm wondering, maybe I'm financially abusive and I don't even know it. Can you talk to me about it? I love that because here was a man, a very wealthy man, who wanted to know if he was guilty. So, the question becomes, are you talking about this topic? Are you having the conversation like I'm having with you? And I'm always having, no matter where I am because it's so massive. Again, one out of four women in the United States of America is financially abused. And if you need more definitions on that, go back and listen to my financially abused podcast, there are many of them that I've done. But are you having the conversation? Are you speaking up? Are you doing that which you need to do to help those that may be in a financially abusive relationship, even if you're not? And recently I got an email from a Natalie who writes such a profound email that I just simply wanted to read it to you. Because you have a voice, you have thoughts, you have feelings that everybody should be hearing. And in this case, Natalie and what she had to say deserves to be heard by all. Suze, first off, thank you. You are an amazing advocate for women and their money, and more than that, you are an advocate for our next generations and their money, as women are the mothers of those generations, and still in 2019, the predominant care and support for the next generation. To give you some background, I am the victim of financial abuse. I was in a seven-and-a-half-year relationship with my ex before I really recognized the extent of this financial abuse last summer, and started to slowly admit to myself the extensive psychological and emotional abuse I had suffered the entire relationship. When I met him, I was a single mother in my second home that I bought on my own and had equity in. I had a pension from six years of state service. I also had small retirement accounts. When I met my partner, he was a self-employed consultant not paying his child support, living in a friend's condo with no more than a few boxes of items to his name, even wearing most of his friend's clothing. He had no money, no retirement and no equity in anything. When I met him, I thought he was down on his luck after a difficult divorce. I had been through the same thing with my first marriage and divorce and it had taken years for me to get on my feet again. I overlooked many red flags that are glaring at me now in hindsight. Before I go on, the reason that I am reading this email from Natalie, is I want you to see if you can identify with what Natalie is talking about when referring to herself in this email. You overlook the signs, you think you can save somebody, you see what they're doing, you recognize what you're doing. But no, as the mother of all, as a woman, you think you can take care and change everyone, no matter what. And you cannot. So again, I'm reading you this email to see if you can identify any danger signs that you may be seeing right now in your relationships, or things that Natalie is about to talk about? So, I just want you to think about that. Now I continue with Natalie's email. Last summer, I discovered our home was in foreclosure while he was out of the country on a mission trip with our church, back to back with a trip to Italy with his daughter. This house was financed very suspiciously from the start, which I had always questioned, but because my ex is a mortgage broker, I trusted he was doing things on the up and up. This house had my pension and the equity from my home, rolled into it as the down payment. One of the many things I felt forced to do financially by my ex. And I would now be losing all of that with this ensuing foreclosure. I was shocked and decided I had to leave and be out of the home when he returned. I knew he would end up blaming me for all of this, as this is the gaslighting emotional abuse tactic he most frequently uses with me. I wanted to be out of the home and in the protective care of friends and family to help me navigate my next steps because I knew in my gut this was really bad. I won't go into any more detail, or though I could, because there is so much more. I just wanted to set the stage for my question. Now here is another important factor. I am a licensed psychologist. I'm going to repeat that everybody. And just before I go on I just have to say this again, so many times when I talk about financial abuse you say to me, or you think without voicing it, oh it must be about poor people. Must be about uneducated people, must be about people who are raised in situations where abuse always happened or there was one excuse after another, but it could never happen you think to an educated woman. I'm here to say, think again. I will reread what I just read to you. Now here is another important factor. I am a licensed psychologist. I am smart and good at what I do. Did I know there was emotional abuse? Yes. My mistake was that I thought I could handle it and was hopeful it would change over time. I am going to read that line again because that is why you stay in situations that you know you should get out of. Did I know there was emotional abuse? Yes. My mistake was that I thought I could handle it and was hopeful it would change over time. It did change, for the worst. I just wasn't admitting that to myself. I should have left a million times because of this abuse and did not. When I uncovered the financial ruin he had put us into, it clicked for me that I must leave to protect my children -- a son from my first marriage and a daughter I have with this ex. The threat to them was clear. Again, I just have to stop. Women, you leave to protect your children, that's why you normally leave a relationship like this. But what if you didn't have kids? What would it take you to leave to protect yourself? You, not just your children, but you. It's almost as if you don't count unless you have to do something for your kids. So, I'm asking you to think about the question that I just asked you. What would it take for you to do something just for you? I continue with Natalie's email. He was bleeding me dry and with no intent to care for me. If I didn't leave, we would both go down financially and then where would my kids be? But here everybody, here is where Natalie gets the point that I just made to you a few seconds ago. It is sad that it took threatening my children for me to wake up. But I am not alone in this. So many women are abused in the silent, closed doors of their homes in ways that no one can see, sometimes including them. I am healing every day from my abuse and as I do, I am more and more incensed by our laws, our social order, our communities, our churches, etc. that are ill-equipped to understand this and sometimes deny it is happening. Here is the thing about abuse. If we are not supporting the victims and trying to help them out of their turmoil, then we are helping in their abuse. It is as easy as that. Anything that is not directly ending the abuser’s tactic is inherently allowing for the abuse to continue. This is malignant neglect that movements like Me Too or Times Up are trying to fight, but we are just scratching the surface of giving awareness to this insidious nature of this unseen abuse and the pervasiveness of it. I want to be part of what fixes that, not just for me and my children, but for our nation. THIS HAS TO STOP. So here is my question. How do you suggest we begin to get the three in four women who are not being financially abused to help the one in four who are? Think about what Natalie just asked me. And I ask you to ask yourself that exact same question. How do you suggest we begin to get the three in four women who are not being financially abused to help the one in four who are women are? Women are little more than 50% of our population. If three in four of these women were to start working for change, the sizable nature of that voice wouldn't be able to be ignored. I really want to work at this. I want to get others working at this. I am not only wanting to do this for the one in four but for the children and other caretaking individuals of that one in four who suffer the trickle-down effect of what happens to those women. I have a 15-year-old son, I do NOT want him to unknowingly to start participating in a system that is unfair to women and does not recognize financial abuse as something that is criminal in nature. I have a 4-year-old daughter whose father is adamant that he has not financially abused me, who I do not want to find herself suddenly giving in to one little thing here and one little thing there with her future partners, not noticing the small insults of abuse she is letting into her life. I want to help encourage the three in four women that are not abused to rise up for the one in four, and for our nation to demand change be made for the sake of all of us, men included. I am just starting to read Melinda Gates's book, The Moment of Lift. I completely agree with her that when we invest in the women of a culture, we invest in all of us. When we tear down the injustices to women, we tear down the negative effect of these injustices on all of us. Signed, “one of the one in four.” Well, Natalie, I read your email. You said you wanted to help and I believe from the bottom of my heart that there will be women who hear the email that you wrote, and they will be inspired by your words because those were not just words. Those were truths, truths from your heart. And if you can inspire women with such words, then your dream of getting the three out of the four to help the one in four will come true. As far as I'm concerned, I thank you for that email. That email moved me, that email even made me want to get more involved and do something even more than I'm doing now. Because I know, I know that one by one, woman by woman we can change this world to make it safe for all, so that all women can be strong, smart and secure and no women ever suffer financial abuse again. Let's make that a goal for every one of you. Well, Robert, I think the important thing to do here now that we've just listened to that episode, is to remind everybody that www.TheHotline.org is there for support. If you are a victim of financial abuse or you know somebody, you can recommend it to them. Again, it's completely confidential and so important to seek the help that you need or help a friend that you know might be a victim so that they can find their way to the other side. You're absolutely right, Sarah, and we'll link that, as we usually do, in the show notes that appear wherever you are listening to this and whatever app you're listening as well as on the Community. So, thanks for listening, everybody, and we will be back here on Thursday. Buh-bye. Hi, I'm Sarah, and I'm Robert, and we're from Suze Orman's Women and Money podcast team here to tell you that Alloya's member credit unions are so proud to have brought you this episode. You know, Robert, credit unions live by people helping people philosophy. Absolutely, Sarah. And that means when you bank with a credit union, you can trust that they have your best interest at heart. 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