Family and friends: How to help

Family and friends: How to help

How to help someone who has come out of a financially abusive relationship


If a loved one is in the process of going through recovery from a financially abusive relationship, they will need:

  • Financial resources for transportation, childcare, employment, food, clothing and housing.
  • Information about community resources like clinics.
  • Personal resources such as skills to support herself or her children.
  • Social resources, including support from family and friends.
  • To have someone listen and be supportive of their fears and reservations without judgement.


Looking to the future

It’s usually when therapy/counselling ends and normal life resumes that the emotional impact of financial abuse really hits. Rather than feeling joyful and free, victims often report feeling more frightened, more vulnerable and more uncertain than ever before.

‘It’s been a year since my divorce,’ says Michelle Thomson*, 42, ‘and I’m taking time out to empower myself. I’ll never allow someone to control me the way my ex did before. I’m much more financially savvy now and I know this will hold me in good stead for my future relationships.’

Research has shown that women with economic skills are more likely to leave abusive situations and sustain themselves and their families in the long run. ‘What this means,’ says counselling psychologist, Wendy Baxter, ‘is that women who can support themselves financially are more likely to leave and not return to their abusive partners. All abuse survivors should be encouraged to understand the difference between a loving and caring relationship, and one that’s characterised by power and control.’

Wendy shares her advice for anyone wanting to move forward from a financially abusive relationship:

  • It’s normal to be fearful of the future.
  • Your best resource is you.
  • It’s okay to be emotionally distressed – with professional help it does get better.
  • You are giving your children a wonderful message of being able to take charge of their lives, even if it’s difficult.
  • Learn how to handle money, however little it may be.
  • Be kind and forgiving to yourself.


Get the right support for you 

Wendy Baxter: [email protected]
POWA Domestic Abuse Treatment Centre: 011 642 4345
FAMSA: 011 975 7106/


*Not her real name

Joni van der Merwe

About Joni van der Merwe

Your Family’s Digital editor. Avid retweeter. When I’m not scrolling Instagram you’ll find me in my garden. Keen on DIY and I don’t believe there’s anything that can’t be fixed with some chalk paint.


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