The Shackless of Debt

How Financial Abuse Led to £18,000 of Debt Part 2

sad woman crying leaning over

**Trigger Warning – This post speaks about suicide and financial abuse **

Please read part 1 of before continuing.

Financial abuse is like death by a thousand cuts. Some cuts sting, some you don’t even notice are there and some you become immune to. I was now unemployed and I didn’t have any money of my own. Dave promised he would cover all my bills until I returned to work but he never did.

This was the beginning of what I can only describe as a dark and traumatic period. My loans, credit card, overdraft and gadgets went unpaid. Month after month, they accumulated interest and late fees. Of course Dave had an excuse for why he couldn’t pay. Pretty soon, my phone was disconnected due and the debt letters started rolling in.

My self worth was on the floor as a result of the financial abuse. I buried my head in the sand and tried to pretend to family and friends that everything was okay.

One of the most sickening aspects was that Dave encouraged me to sell all my gadgets in order to continue paying the solicitor and my bills. He came to my house, picked up my phone and iPad and accompanied me to Cash Converters.

He promptly took the money and said he would deposit it in the bank and send it to me later. The money never arrived. He told me my bank was blocked from accepting any transactions, which is preposterous. But at the time, I believed him.

Meanwhile, the flat was still “under construction”. I insisted, on multiple occasions, that we should visit and we should be having updates from the house builder. He said the house builder would not give us any updates until we finished paying the solicitor. He encouraged us to go furniture shopping in preparation for when we move in.

Countless hours were spent in department stores, looking and home décor, taking paint samples, colour swatches and various other things. We would also drive by the building site and look at the construction but he did not allow us to speak to the people in the sales office. He said we may lose the flat if they saw us there.

I felt unbelievably dependent on him, like I may suffocate without him there. It’s one of the most twisted parts about dealing with a narcissist. I fell into a deeper depression. When debtors would contact me about being behind on payments, I ignored them, which was the worst thing I could have done.

I felt drained, emotionally, spiritually and physically. My mental health deteriorated. I frequently fantasized about jumping in front of a train or falling from a tall building. Financial abuse and debt can have a devastating impact on mental health and you should always seek help.

My parents even expressed concern said I had transformed for the worse since meeting Dave. I knew this was true but I felt so ashamed to admit that so I pretended that everything was okay.

I eventually found a new job. With this, came a new purpose for life. I had a great team and the routine of going to work everyday did wonders for my mental health. I also managed to buy myself a phone. It was only at this point that I decided to look at how much debt I was in.

Accounts had accumulated thousands of pounds worth interest and the majority had defaulted. Family members that had loaned me money now wanted it back. The total amount of debt was £18.021. I felt overwhelmed, like I was buried under a mountain of snow with no way out. I began to feel increasingly suicidal and knew I needed psychological help.

Luckily, my workplace had an Employee Assistance Programme. Following an assessment, I was referred for counselling and to Payplan debt management services for help with my finances. With their compassionate support, I was able to set up a Debt Management Plan (DMP) in which I made affordable monthly payments to creditors and family.

I often say that Payplan saved my life and it is without exaggeration. They did. I will forever be grateful to those workers for the compassion they showed me at my most vulnerable point.

In counselling, I started to explore reasons why I felt so dependent on Dave and started to slowly examine the events of the last year. For the first time in the entire relationship, I decided to investigate for myself the stories he was telling me. I contacted the solicitor directly. He said he had no knowledge of Dave nor of the flat we were buying. He confirmed that he had never sent us any correspondence nor requested any or received any money from us.

Next, I went onto the national land registry to find out who owned the flat we were supposed to be buying. The name I saw was not mine nor Dave’s, meaning the flat had been sold to someone else, but how?! I then contacted the sales office of the building site and enquired about the flat.

To my surprise, they told me it had been sold to someone else. They said we never paid the reservation fee for the flat and they had tried to contact Dave multiple times without success so they assumed we weren’t interested in buying it.

To this day, I have never been able to describe how I felt when I found out the information. I realised the entire relationship had been a lie, I berated myself for being so stupid  and worst of all, where had my money gone?! I confronted Dave with this information.

He cried and told me that he was overwhelmed by the house buying process and he had made mistakes. I was told that the flat had fallen through and he was trying to buy another flat for us. He apologised and promised to never lie to me again.

Now, this was the moment I should have packed my bags and left, but I didn’t. I actually believed him. I still loved him and crucially, I had an entrenched belief that I wouldn’t be able to survive without him. So I forgave him.

Deep down, I realised that I couldn’t trust him and he had disappointed me so many times, that I knew I could never rely on him. I decided to focus on paying debt, saving and I refused to give him my entire salary. He tried to discourage me from paying debt and saving, stating that it was not important and that I should be spending all my money.

I decided to ignore his advice. Every month, without fail, he would also ask for small amounts, like £100, £50, £75 to cover what he claimed were small expenses. I knew deep down it was all a lie but I continued with the relationship and I continued to give him money.

Soon after, I managed to buy myself a car, 2 years after my old one had been written off.  He still tried to access my bank accounts and ask for more money.

One day, I was on my laptop and I realised he had left his Gmail account logged in. I don’t know if it was God, the universe or my gut instinct but I knew I was going to find incriminating evidence in the google account.

I went to his pictures and all I saw was multiple women with him, on holidays, in bed, on dates, on planes, in his car. There were at least 4 women from what I observed. The pictures were indicative of someone who was carrying out serious relationships with these women.

Furthermore, it didn’t appear that any of the women were aware of neither myself nor each other. When I confronted him with the evidence, there were more tears and excuses.  Right then is when I realised not only how toxic this relationship was, but the fact that I would never see any of my money again. Furthermore, the future I had spent 2.5 years dreaming about was never going to happen, as long as he was in my life.

At that precise moment, I decided to walk away. I felt a sense of peace and clarity about the decision because I knew it was for the best. I told him that it was over and I left. Since that day, I never saw or heard from him

A few weeks later, I found 2 of the (many) women he cheated with on Instagram and as we started talking, we all had the EXACT same story about him. He left one girl in £14,000 debt, the other in £3,000 debt. Loans and credit cards were taken out in their names. Their bank details were also put down for things like subscriptions without their consent.

He took £8,000 from one girl and claimed it was her half of a house deposit, but she never saw the money again. One girl wanted to take him to court, and the other felt too embarrassed to do so.  The 3 of us are intelligent,  well educated women and we fell for this narcissistic con man! We did things with money that we would never have done in any circumstance and we were left with the consequences.

I felt too ashamed to go to the police because I was furious with myself for ignoring red flags that had been there since day one. I spent weeks in a daze, desperately wishing I could turn back time.

To stop myself from going insane,  I decided to focus all my energy into paying debt, as it was the only thing I could control. 

It has been 6 months since I left and I am happy to say that I am now debt-free and I am aggressively saving and investing for my future. My confidence is at an all time high and I am so glad he is no longer in my life. Occasionally, I have a sinking feeling in my stomach when I think about how he is still out there, doing this to other women.

I believe every challenge in life comes to teach us. For a long time, I felt embarrassed about what I went through. But instead of pitying myself, I chose to learn from it and ensure that the next chapter of my life is better than anything I can ever imagine. I will never trust a romantic partner with money again, no matter how trustworthy they may seem.

I hope sharing my experiences will teach others, especially women, so they never go through what I did.

If you’ve been affected by my story, you can find support resources here.

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