Get out of an unfortunate situation and secure your financial future with these tips.

8 Ways to protect your finances when leaving an abusive relationship

Leaving a relationship is a tough call, even more so when it is an abusive relationship. Abuse can take many forms - emotional, physical, psychological and financial. All of them have one thing in common - control. In a financially abusive situation, the abuser takes control of all money matters. They hold a tight grip on all income, credit cards - even their partner’s, and leave them out of major financial decisions.

If you, unfortunately, find yourself in such a situation and have taken the brave decision to leave an abusive relationship, here’s what you can do.

Related: 8 Financial Tips Every Newlywed Must Follow

How to prepare your finances before leaving 

Stash away some money: Save money that your partner does not know of. This could be a bonus at work, tax refund, earnings from a side gig, pay hike, etc. If your partner has control over your primary bank account, open a separate bank account on the down low and start depositing money there. You can seek help from your HR officer at work to deposit your bonus or part of the paycheck into this separate account. Additionally, remove your jewellery and other valuables from your bank locker and hand them to a family member or trusted friend.

Make copies of important documents: This is extremely important if you want to start an independent life. Make copies of all documents such as credit card statements, bank statements, investment documents, home deeds, car title, any other property papers, tax returns, etc. Take pictures of all these documents, and store them on a cloud or email them to yourself. Ensure you use an email that your husband has no access to.

Learn how to manage your money: If you have not handled money matters for a while, chances are you will feel lost. Reach out to friends to get advice. Research online on how to take charge of your money and manage it well. You can even take a financial literacy class online. If you can afford it, hire a financial advisor who can work with you to make wise decisions and gain financial independence.

Find an attorney: It is very important that you arm yourself with legal advice. Understand the long term effects of seeking a divorce. Learn how you can file for a divorce, on what grounds, how much it will cost, what kind of pushback can you expect from your partner, how much alimony can you demand, etc. If you cannot afford legal fees, find a lawyer or firm that works with abuse victims. 

Related: I Was Facing A Divorce And Here's How I Prepared For It

How to rebuild your finances after leaving

Pay off debts, if any: If you were lucky to come out of the situation without impending debt, then it’s good. More often than not, the abusive partner rakes off debt in the partner’s name in such situations. This could be by taking a credit card in their name and not paying it off or taking a bank loan. This can completely mess up your credit standing. Work with your financial advisor to pay off your debt in the quickest, most efficient way possible.

Create a financial plan: Start with creating a new budget that works for your current situation. Take into account how much money you make and what your expenses are. Factor in everything - rent, groceries, utilities, gas, debt, insurance and other miscellaneous expenses. After the expenditure is taken care of, focus on wealth management. Figure out how to save money and invest it to secure your financial freedom.

Build your credit: Even if your partner has spoiled your credit, all is not lost. You can work towards rebuilding it. The easiest way to do this is to get a credit card and pay back the entire amount due diligently a few days before the due date. Additionally, you can also take out a secured loan and pay the EMI meticulously. This can help you repair your credit score in a few months.

Prepare for a financially secure life: Define your life goals and work towards them. Whether it is to gain education, buy a car, buy a home, pay for your child’s higher education, travel or retire comfortably, you can achieve it all. Design a money saving plan and invest prudently. Focus on your financial independence and become proactive about your own success. 

Related: Tips To Bounce Back Financially After A Divorce

Leaving an abusive situation is not easy, but a little bit of courage and financial planning can go a long way in drastically improving your life.