September 08, 2019
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One focus of the Women and Money Podcast is shining the light on financial abuse. About a year ago, The National Domestic Abuse Hotline teamed up with Avon and asked Suze to speak with survivors.
You know, one of the main topics that I am focusing really, my entire life on right now, is financial abuse. So many people still have no idea what the definition of financial abuse happens to be. The National Domestic Violence Hotline joined forces with Avon, and they asked me, would I interview seven women who have survived domestic abuse? And I said, of course, I would. In this episode, we're going to hear from Tiffany.Tiffany, here you are. You are 28 years of age and you have a nine-year-old daughter, a six-year-old son, and for seven years, for seven years you were in a serious, abusive relationship. Tell me about it.It was. I don't even know, it was hard. It was hard just trying to find out who I was and what I wanted. I didn't know what I wanted out of life, what I wanted for myself, where I was going to be. It was just a trap.And you were 18 years of age when you met him? So, a baby?Yes. Yeah, a baby.And you met him and tell me about that situation.When I met him, at first, I thought it was love. I thought this was who you know, I was meant to be with. He was charming, he was caring, he showed me lots of affection, something I was lacking before. So that made me feel like maybe that was love.Did he give you gifts? Because that's the similarity between all of the interviews that we've done is he was charming, he made me feel like he was going take care of me, he lavished me with gifts, he was there in every possible way. No red flags in the beginning at all, it was just love. Did you move in right away?Yes. About three months later, I moved into his place because he rescued me.He rescued you, from what?My mom. We had a big fight and he came, you know, a knight in shining armor and took me away. So, I felt oh, I'm going to be protected.Do you remember what that fight was about with your mom?Over laundry, over the laundry.Over the laundry? Over laundry, he rescued you into seven years of abuse. Yeah.So, you move in with him. What happens?You know, his family showed me love. Everyone was welcoming at first and then a month later, it just went downhill. He started to be physically abusive. He's very jealous, so he started hitting me and, like, just trying to tell me what I can and can't do.Take me back in time to the first time you were hit by him. Tell me about that.So, he picked me up from my cousin's house and the simple thing, I was walking ahead with my cousin and leaving him behind in the car. He got upset. He pushed me up against the car and tried to choke me and tell me, what am I doing?In front of your cousin? What did your cousin say to you when she saw that?She was in shock, she was afraid for me and she told me to leave. But she's younger, so I said, you don't know what you're talking about, it's just a one-time thing. And it didn't stop after.And no red flags went off at that point? No, because here you are, 18 years of age and he said he was sorry. And he was jealous. Did any part of you like that he was jealous?Yeah, because I felt that OK, he loves me. Maybe this is love.So, it is possible that for women out there that when they're with somebody and that person is controlling them, they see that as love because that person wants all your attention. So that means I'm wanted, it's not controlling, it's not abusive, it's love. That's why all of you define it that way. Yeah.Because you're wanted, maybe for the first time in your life. Is that correct? So now he hits you once. When does he hit you again?Like so often, at least every other week after that.And then so he hits you once, twice, three times, four times. He just keeps hitting you.Yeah.And yet you had a child with him?Yeah.Were you trying to have a child with him?No.And you not only had one child with him, you had another child with him. During that time when he was hitting you, and you were then having a sexual relationship with him, was that relationship abusive?Yeah.So, what did that feel like?It felt like I had no control over my own body. Like saying no was not an option, he didn’t even understand, no.So he raped you?Yeah.How many times did he rape you?Multiple times, and that's actually was my final straw because he tried to rape me in front of my daughter.And once again, we have a mother who draws a line in the sand because of her daughter. Don't you find that fascinating, you could do for her what you could not do for yourself? Did you even know that you were being financially abused?No.You know you were being verbally abused, sexually abused, physically abused, emotionally abused, psychologically abused. But once again, we have a woman who is being financially abused but didn't know it. When did you find out that you were financially abused?This year.This year? What happened?Because even when I called the hotline, they ask you, are you being financially abused? I said no. But just going back and just thinking about it, all the things that I went through, me being an immigrant and having to still work you know, and support him, and give him all my money. That's financial abuse, so I didn't know the definition.How much money do you think you gave him over all this time? Thousands, thousands. Paid his child support. He took my kids' tax money to buy a car that we barely got to use. He took everything. I would buy stuff for him instead of myself, so I gave it to him. And when you did that, what was your hope? That if I give you this gift, if I buy this for you, what were you hoping?That maybe he will change and be nice to you? So, you always had hope?Yeah.Did you still at that point love him a bit or you thought you did?I thought I did, yep.Isn't that fascinating?Yeah.When you look back on that now, what would you tell to the women who are young in a relationship, and they feel like they love their abuser? What would you tell them?Love yourself. Once you learn to love yourself, you know what love is, and you will understand that what you're going through is not love at all, and you need to get out.So, you have tears in your eyes right now. What are those tears about?Because I know that I'm strong and just thinking about the things that I have been through and thinking that I wasn’t strong back then, and just coming to this revolution makes me happy. They are happy tears.I love that, they're tears of joy. Because you know, what I'm sitting here thinking as I'm talking with you, you little 28-year-old. I'm thinking holy popcorn, are you kidding me? This woman has been abused on every possible level. This woman has two kids, this woman was a single mother, this woman was in a country that she didn't even have the legal papers to be here, and this woman left on her own to take care of her kids with nothing. No money, nothing, and she's made it. You've made it. Yeah.You now are giving a gift to all the women out there that are in the exact same situation as you were in, and they don't know what to do. I have such admiration for your strength, I can't even tell you, because you've been through more than most. And you've come out the other end. It has been such an honor to be able to sit here with you.Thank you so much. You're welcome.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 Purse, or write to me here at AskSuzePodcast@gmail.com. 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