The High Cost of Domestic Violence
It has been 10 years since I left my abuser. When I left, I was aware of the emotional costs of leaving my relationship; I knew there would be heartbreak, tears, anxiety, and fear. However, what I did not realize was the great financial cost of leaving my relationship and the cost of dealing with the aftermath. I recently read somewhere that finances are a primary reason that most women stay in abusive relationships and now I understand why.
Although some places have free legal aid, the legal aid office in my area could not help me because I had to file a contested divorce case when I left my abuser. In addition, I have had to go back to court with my abuser several times over safety-related matters; legal aid also does not help with these matters. I have been blessed to finally have an attorney that does not charge me as much as other attorneys. However, in the past 10 years, I have spent around $40,000 on legal fees.
I also recently realized the impact of the aftermath of my relationship in regard to work—court dates and attorney appointments equal missed work. Doctor appointments and counseling appointments for me and my children also mean missed work. Over a period of 10 years, I have missed an average of 7 days of work per year. Some years the amount is higher than the average. This year, I have already missed 5 days of work in 2 a month period for domestic violence related issues.
My kids and I have acquired a lot of medical expenses related to the recovery aspect of leaving my abuser. There have been numerous bills related to the emergency room, doctor copays, and counseling. The approximate amount of this care for the past 10 years is $12,000 and that is not including the insurance premiums I am required by the court to pay.
Other Costs Associated with Being a Single Parent
The financial costs of being a single parent are overwhelming, even without the costs I listed above. After I left my abuser, I had to pay day care costs for my kids. I had to save up for an apartment. I have had to pay off the car I received in the divorce and there was other marital debt that I was forced to pay. I was even forced to move closer to my abuser at one point, which was quite costly. Over the past 10 years, my abuser’s child support history has been inconsistent. There are everyday expenses that come up that I have to provide for, like school-related expenses for my kids, sick visits at the doctor, car repairs, and home repairs.
My safety and that of my children is definitely worth the thousands of dollars I have spent since leaving my abuser. I have struggled financially, and since some of these issues are ongoing, I will likely continue to struggle. I do not have a lot of extra money, so things like name-brand clothing and shoes, haircuts, mani-pedis, vacations, or church events that cost money may not be possible for me. However, I trust the Lord to provide for our needs and I know He honors my efforts as a single mom to take care of my children.