Recovering from financial abuse starts with leaving. It’s impossible to recover from financial abuse if you’re still being subjected to it. So it makes sense that leaving must come first. Logically, it’s easy to say, but not always easy to do.
Once you recognize that you’re living in a financially abusive relationship (and possibly also enduring other types of abuse) it’s important to find the strength to leave. But how?
Start dreaming of what life could be like if you were not tied down by the financial abuse you’re experiencing.
Dreams are powerful. They give us hope. They help us get up each morning and face whatever we need to get through to get to the better stuff we’re dreaming about.
Think about it for a minute. If you’re living in a financially abusive relationship and your partner controls the finances, dictating how every penny is spent, you must be tired of not being able to spend money however you choose. Take a minute to imagine what you would spend your money on if he weren’t standing in the way.
It might be as simple as going to a good hairdresser and getting a stylish new cut that makes you feel like a million bucks. Or it might be cruising through the Bahamas in a yacht. Dreams have no size limitations. They can be as big or as small as feels right to you.
If dreaming small feels better, safer even, then start there. Nothing wrong with wanting a new outfit or to get your nails done. If you are living in a financially restricted situation, start imagining what life can be like without the restrictions. It will help you to find the motivation you need to change.
Recovery is about dreaming.
Learning that dreams motivate us is important to making the changes we need to make to move our lives forward from wherever we are now.
If you’ve already left, you may be floundering to figure out what to do next. That’s understandable. Leaving a financially abusive relationship is exhausting and exhilarating but it can also leave you adrift. Find a way to focus on what you need to do to get to the next step. And that starts with a dream.
If you’re recently free of a financially abusive relationship, then taking a moment to breathe and imagine what your new life will be like will help you to chart your course. If you have lived under someone else’s rules for a long time, deciding what you want your life to look like can be a bit daunting.
Remember, dreams are not goals. Goals get you to your dreams.
Start with your dreams.
Fantasize about living your best life, whatever that is for you. Maybe you dream about a big house. Great, then start there and work backwards to figure out the steps it’s going to take to get there. If it’s a BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal) then you might have to break it down into more realistic steps. That’s okay, too. In this case, the first step might be to get out of the crummy apartment that you landed in when you escaped your financially abusive relationship. Perhaps renting a house with a beautiful garden will be the step before owning your own home. That would be a step up from where you are and partially fulfill your dream. At least you’d be living in a house.
Having that dream will help you stay focused on where you want to go.
Once you’ve figured out your dream, then you can create goals that step by step will get you to your dream. Goals are more tangible and specific than dreams, but they are essential in helping you to reach your dreams. If you never set goals that lead you to your dreams, then it’s not likely you’ll reach the dreams.
Financially recovery takes time. We can’t get there by living beyond our means or being unrealistic. But having a dream to focus on will help tremendously when we face setbacks or challenges. Don’t think you have to stay poor just because you endured financial abuse. Think big and strive to make your future as amazing as your dream.
Waking up each morning and believing in yourself will help you recover financially. Whether you haven’t left yet and need the dream to motivate you to get out, or if you’ve already left and are on your way to recovery.
Having dreams and slowly achieving them will build the momentum you need to live your best life. Believe in your dreams. They will motivate you and keep you striving for a better life.
Sherry Lutz Herrington is the owner of Sherrington Financial Fitness, a business consulting and accounting firm specializing in strategic business planning and solid financial accounting for businesses. She is also the author of Strong Women Thriving (https://strongwomenthriving.com/), a blog which focuses on empowering women to be financially savvy, particularly after experiencing financial abuse. Sherry is currently writing a new book that both shares her personal story and addresses financial abuse. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Join our FB group https://www.facebook.com/groups/womensurivingfinancialabuse