A few cents to Freedom

Financing yourself or your lifestyle after leaving an abusive relationship in which you were financially dependent on the abuser is key to not repeat g the cycle of abuse.
I grew up with a story at the back of my mind. This story shaped from a young age how I would view relationships with the opposite sex and most importantly choosing not to ever be in an abusive relationship.
This story was of a women who would take her two little daughters in the middle of the night and play hide and seek, she would tell them not to make a noise and hide behind various objects so they could not be found by the drunken boyfriend and get beaten up.
This is a story of how when she had a better income job, she would be asked (demanded to leave), because she “thought she was better than him”.
A story of being beaten and stabbed to almost bleeding out. Where fist fights were a regular thing in this “loving” relationship.
What stuck with me most about this story was its end. The women in the end, out of fear of her daughters’ lives, lied to her boyfriend that she was visiting an aunt for only a weekend and packed a bag (which he decided on the specifics of what should be packed), which she however secretly added a few more items to and left everything she owned (the shack they stayed in was hers, even most household items inside) and never returned.
After all the abuse she had endured for years, one day she had the courage to run and not look back.
This women was my mother, and I was one of the little girls she had to run with.
Now of course life after that wasn’t particularly easy for her, she wasn’t educated or had a job and she had to stay with her brother for a while, until eventually she pulled her life together.
My mother is the reason why I had to break the cycle of uneducation, and dependency.
Knowing what she went through and seeing what other women go through because they become economically dependent on their partners gave me an idea on how these women can leave and still survive.
Every victim of abuse needs a support system, most times that’s family and friends, but some of these women have been isolated from their support systems by their manipulative partners and when they need support there is no one they are close to that can help, because everyone else is estranged to them by then.
But as being part of a society, every victim should have someone or organisation to count on for rehabilitation and assistance.
Recently having attended the Financial Literacy’s event on Investing, got me thinking on a subject of “Saving your way out of an abusive relationship”.
The very first question that was asked was “Why Invest/Save?” And answers ranged from “Buying a house/car to creating wealth and saving for an education”, but after attending the whole talk afterwards I asked if they had trustfunds or group savings for women who wanted to leave an abusive relationship. Of course no such thing exists, this is a country where people won’t report a fight or intervene because “it’s a personal/private affair of a couple”.
It got me thinking about having an exit plan and being strategic in the next phase of your life. I have heard countless stories of women feeling disempowered to stay because “who will pay for her rent/provide for a roof over her and the children’s heads, who will pay for school fees, who will buy clothes or who will feed them” if they leave. I’ve heard “even if he beats her, at least he takes care of her”.
They’re pyochologically bullied to stay, because they see no way out.
Here is the thing, one could say, why doesn’t the women go to school or get a job (if she can), and those are good ideas but her acquiring a job would raise questions as to why she feels the need to contribute financially after all this time and after he already supplies for every other need (and might just cause further abuse), so every reduced blow to her body is a bonus chip, and we don’t want her being further victimised. So what can she do?
Financial dependency has been one of the key factors in GBV and Partner violence in Namibia.
Being economically independent empowers women to walk away much more easily from abusive relationships that they would have otherwise prolonged in fear of not knowing how to sustain themselves afterwards.
Hence women empowerment cannot be spoken about in isolation of economic development.
Can these women then not start a trustfund or a stokvel where they can put in small sums of money that will eventually help them stand on their feet when it’s time to flee?
Is the survival of post-abuse perhaps dependant on gradually saving your way out of these relationships.
Organisations and well wishers can also contribute to these savings group so that the burden can be lightened on the victims of our society.
Could the solution be planning for the escape with a few pennies at a time?
Could a few cents contribute towards freedom from being abused?
By Elsarien Katiti