I was financially abused for five years
We are constantly bombarded with social media posts by appreciative women sharing what their significant others have bought and done for them. Posts such as “Guys- look at the flowers bae bought me”, “Oh my goodness! This man spoils me rotten! Another bag from Aldo, thank you love. #LuckiestGirlAlive”, “Dinner with bae at this fancy spot tonight” etc.
I would often find myself envying these women and wishing that my then boyfriend could do at least one thoughtful thing for me that I didn’t have to pay for myself. Yes, you read that correctly- he did things for me but I paid for them and I had to keep up the image and pretend he did things for me.
I feel that he emotionally and financially abused me. I always found myself being guilt-tripped and eventually over compensating because he had insecurities. I wanted him to feel like a man and to feel supported but it was never enough. He would start arguments and blame his financial situation for being mean. He would stop talking to me and threaten me with a break-up because he “wasn’t where he wanted to be in life” but would have no shame telling his friends he bought me things (in front of me) or asking me to give him money to buy his friends alcohol so he didn’t look broke.
I loved him and gave him my all. I didn’t mind sharing to a certain extent but I started feeling as though I was being used. I hated how comfortable he had become with taking from me. I hated feeling financially vulnerable; I would often sacrifice buying the things I wanted for myself in case I needed to help him out once again. He would tell me that he only felt comfortable with “borrowing” money from me because his family would judge him. I carried the burden of financially and emotionally helping someone for five years. My most painful memories are of paying for petrol, dinner and buying his friends alcohol on my birthday and him switching off his phone on our anniversaries because “he didn’t have money to buy me gift so he didn’t want to celebrate”. Those will forever be etched in my memory. I felt helpless and trapped for so many years. I wanted to leave him, but I didn’t want it to seem as though I was abandoning him or dropping because he was in financial ruins. I let him manipulate me into thinking that our situation was normal and it was preparing us for married life. I was always so stressed and on-edge because of his erratic behaviour.
I am thankful that I finally gathered the strength to leave him. I want every woman (and man) to feel empowered after reading this and realise that abuse comes in many forms and that you don’t have to put up with anything that hurts you in the name of love. Love isn’t simple, but it definitely isn’t severely stressful and manipulative either.
You can follow me on twitter: @motlhabane_lebo