November 03, 2019
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The Women and Money Podcast is shining the light on financial abuse. In 2018, The National Domestic Abuse Hotline teamed up with Avon and asked Suze to speak with several survivors.
As you know, a big part of the Women and Money podcast is dedicated to financial abuse. Once again, everywhere I go and I talk to somebody about financial abuse, I am still asked to this day, what is that? Oh my God, that's my situation, I never knew that there was a name for it, I just thought it was normal. So, I'm going to continue to play interviews with women who survived financial abuse. So, today's interview is with a woman by the name of Vicky May and Vicky now is 44 or 45 years old, and when I say she is an incredible woman, I'm really putting it mildly. She has this fabulous, positive spirit, and I loved the time that I spent with her. Let me tell you a little bit what Vicky says in her own words.She said that her abuser forbid her to work for anyone but him and would not allow her to make her own money. He refused to give her money to pay for necessities. He closely watched how she spent every penny. What is her takeaway for all of you? Look for red flags such as being domineering, limiting access to family and keeping you in the dark. I won't tell you any more, because Vicky in this interview should tell you what she went through. But I play these interviews for you because I want you to hear them in case you were in that situation, in case you don't know quite what to do or you have friends that are in that situation. But too many women today, as well as men, by the way, are being financially abused. We have to put an end to it. So let's start right here by listening to Vicky.So, Vicky May, I just have to ask you this. You are 44 years of age, and you spent more than half of your life living in a situation where it was an abusive situation. You got to tell me about this.Well, it started when I was very young. I was 17 and a friend put it to me this way. He picked you before you bloomed. And, um, in the beginning, the relationship was clouded in secrecy, right from the jump because he was married.What did you find attractive about him?He lavished lifestyle on me.So here's what I find interesting as well. Almost every woman that I've interviewed about this topic, it all starts with a man or a woman, it doesn't matter who you are, but the person lavishing a lifestyle, giving them a diamond ring, giving them this. Do you find that that's common?Um, I do, I do. It's really, it's a great sales tactic. Um, you know, come along with me and I have heard other women speak on the subject as well. Come here, and I'm going to show you differently, I'm going to show you something new. He's eight years older than me, um, and it was really the first man to take an interest in me. He made me feel special and wanted and loved, so long as I did things exactly the way he wanted. I was really running from my identity at the time, and I was looking for a daddy and I found one.And when he asked you to do things a specific way, did that go against your grain, or were you like, OK, not a big deal? It wasn't, it didn't really matter? He wanted it, I'll do it.Right, right. If towels needed to be folded a certain way or something needed to be done a certain way, OK, I can yield to that. I don't have to be picky if that's the way you want it, fine with me.And how many kids do you have?Actually, I don't have any kids, I have never been pregnant. That was another, I wasn't allowed to consider getting pregnant. He had kids from his first marriage and he didn't want to have any more.And those kids didn't live with you?Oh, no.That's what's interesting is that when women are also wives are also mothers, what makes them normally leave is when the kids are in danger.Right, so, yes. So, I did have children in my life. Um, I have my niece and my nephew, and we got them when they were six and three, they are 18 and 15 now. And that very much had a lot to do with my leaving when I did, because I could no longer tolerate trying to shield and guard and protect them. From the day we brought them home, I was always running interference to keep the first baby in the house happy and literally basically abandoning them in my own home to be on their own. They were fed and clothed and, you know, taken to school and had the best that money could buy. But there was no, I wasn't allowed to foster closeness with them.So he literally made it, as many abusers do, that you were in his little shell, and you had no outside touchpoints.They were pawns. He used to joke, he would say, to train up a woman properly, you have to call her away from her mother. You have to get her away from her family and her friends, and that's exactly what he did.What made you stay for 26 years? 26 years?Yeah, it's a great question. And my answer to that question is, I stayed first because I didn't know it was abuse.But Vicky May, if you didn't think it was abuse, what did you think it was?I thought I was being a good wife. I wanted to, and I was a good wife. I wanted to support and encourage and inspire and love, and I did those things.Besides it just being verbal abuse and him being controlling, was there physical abuse?No, physical abuse was not his m.o. But there's emotional abuse, verbal abuse, psychological abuse, um, financial abuse.Tell me about the abuse.So I worked for him. It was a small family-owned business, and I was always an employee first, but there came a point where he wouldn't work, and I would go to him and I would say one of us has to get a job, and so then he would get up and go get some money from somewhere and come back with it. And, um, I was just not, it wasn't permitted for me to go get a job outside of what we were doing.So did you have to ask him for money?I would beg him and beg him and plead with him. I had kind of gotten fed up with this whole not having any money business and him not being, you know, willing to get up and go get a job or permit me to because I was too busy with him and the kids and the business that we were doing. But we weren't really doing anything, we were in between projects. I am pursuing public speaking and have a vision of that for myself, and I went to a conference in Houston called Presentation Power with Jonathan Sprinkles. And he allowed three women from the National Domestic Violence Hotline to come and tell their story and the story that they were telling, I always thought domestic violence was someone hitting someone. But these women were telling stories about verbal abuse and bullying and intimidation and really slight innuendos in body language. I was that sensitive to it, all of these. While I'm dealing with him on the phone, he was texting me, calling me while I'm at the conference, really giving me a hard time because I wasn't there taking care of him, and I was, um, observed by someone from the hotline. She saw me, she saw me, she saw what was going on, and she came up to me and asked me if I was OK. And that was how I made my initial contact. Once I heard those women's stories, I was confronted with the truth.When she asked you if you were OK, did you start to cry?I did right away, I was already crying and I was hiding in the hallway because I didn't want anyone to see me crying.And was that the first time you had ever cried about this? Like, had you ever shed tears about it before?Oh, yeah. Well, then I would be made fun of. Oh, are you going to cry now?And when you would cry on your own, what made you cry then?I think it was just this feeling of not being good enough no matter what I did.And he would say those things to you?Yes, it would be he would be disappointed, he wouldn't be happy. It took me some time to accept the truth that the relationship was abusive.Why do you think that happens? What do you goes on?I think women, in general, are so if you don't have self-worth or self-confidence, if you don't know you have value, you settle for anything. And there was always this veiled threat that he would leave me and I didn't want to be left. So, um, I think I was, I know I was desperate for love and acceptance. That was it from the jump. So once I realized it was abuse, I had to do something about it.And is that why you also wanted to do this today? Because of how important it is that women, all of us because I have suffered abuse, that all of us, not from a relationship but from my father, that all of us have the ability to talk about that and share that?Yes, I have a message and a story and courage to tell it. It's my duty to share my story and tell my truth so that other women will know.And why, after 26 years, what was the turning point that made you want to get out and that allowed you to get out?So a friend of mine said to me, Vicky, you know that verse, love your neighbor as yourself? You have to first love yourself. And I didn't. And that really opened my eyes to yes, I do have a voice, and I have value, and I have worth, and I have something to contribute. And when I started asserting that, it was really not met well by him, and I just got to a point where I couldn't take it anymore. I was no longer willing to live in that environment um, given the fact that I was making enough money to support myself and my children. Because to me, that was a pathway out because I knew I had to have money, I couldn't go anywhere if I didn't have money.And it was a pathway out of the relationship to save yourself? So, now you're already thinking about, all right, I need an out.Yes, and he told me, he told to me, it feels like you're getting your ducks in a row to leave me. And that was like a match strike for me. And a Tuesday came and I picked the lock on that beautiful cage I was living in and I flew out.And what allowed you to fly out was that you had the money to fly out?Yes, yes, but a week after I moved out, he went and withdrew all the funds from the checking account and wouldn't give me any. I had to borrow money from friends and family who were still there for me, even after all that time when I wasn't there for them.You know, what's interesting is that I've been with KT, the love of my life, now for 18 years.Congratulations.Thank you, and I love her, and I adore her more than life itself. And we don't have a joint checking account. I wouldn't have a joint checking account with anybody, ever. Maybe I would have an account that we would put equal percentages in to pay bills, but I would never have a joint checking account. And I would never advise women that you combine all your money so it's all in one place. Oh, no, no, no. You enter a relationship and autonomous woman, and you stay financially autonomous from the day that you get there until the day that you die. So, that's so important to understand.It's absolutely critical, you must have control over your own money. I do still have to have dealings with him.What is holding you to him? Is their money holding you to him? Do you still get money from him? Tell me about that. And just so you know, you were married for more than 10 years, so you qualify for half of his social security.Yes, I do, I do. You know what? That's good to know, I'll have to keep that in mind.Keep that in mind, big-time, girlfriend.I will, but I'm not gonna need his money.It doesn't matter, it's not coming from him, it's coming from social security. That is legal, right, that you have, unless, of course, you get remarried or whatever it may be. But at this point, I'm just telling you, once you're married for 10 years, you now later on in life, qualify for half of their social security or your own, whichever one is more, just so you know that. OK, go on.As a result of Texas law, and through mediation and settling the divorce, I get a monthly payment from him.And that's how much?It's $1000.When you get that check from him, and you look at that check if he even sends it. Does he send it?Well, he sends it late when he sends it. And it's supposed to be set up on direct deposit for this next month, we'll see what happens.But when you see that check, and you saw the $1000, what does it make you feel like?It's my money, I worked hard for that money, he's not giving me that money. That's my money, I worked hard for that money, a lot harder than he did.I love that, because I can tell you in his mind, it's his money. And he is using this money to antagonize you on some level because that's the only way that he can get to you.Oh yes, absolutely, I can tell you exactly how he's trying to antagonize me. He writes little messages in the memo, "still asking,"Now, here's what's important for you to know. The money that he's putting into that account, he knows your account number, he knows everything about it. You should not keep any more than that $1000 that he puts in there, that should be it. And the second it goes in there, you should withdraw it and put it into another account that he has no idea. You do not want him to know where your money is, anything because trust me, he can find a way to get that money if he wanted to.Yes, I know.So just, do you promise me you'll get out of it? I promise, I pinky promise. You know you cannot break a pinky promise.No, you cannot. And so here you are, your future is in front of you. Tell me one last thing that you want everybody to know.If I can, you can.You got it, Vicky May, and guess what? We can. 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. 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. 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