Case Study: I had been married before when I met the perpetrator, and he was charming at first.
We moved in together in a place that he owned and we bought a second place with the proceeds of the sale of my previous home. The idea was we’d both own both properties. I was working and we were setting ourselves up for the future.
About 18 months after we bought that second property, I realised he hadn’t put me on the title deeds of property even though I was on the mortgage. When I queried this with him, he said I was overreacting and tried to make me feel stupid.
We had two children together and things started to fall apart pretty quickly because of his coercively controlling behaviour, including image-based abuse.
He co-opted his family and friends into the abuse and things escalated to the point where I was unable to work and I was terrified he’d scoot off with the kids, so I had to leave my employment.
When I reported the abuse to Police, they took out an intervention order and removed from him from the house. At that point the economic abuse escalated. He had been deceitful, abusive and controlling the entire relationship when it came to finances, and I thought that the end of the relationship might be the end of that.
However, when the domestic violence order was put on, the perpetrator ceased paying the mortgage for the family home. And he told his best friend, who was living in our second property, to stop paying his rent. At this time, both mortgages were well ahead by a few thousand dollars.
For about 3 to 4 months no mortgage payments were made on either property. The re-draw facility covered the lack of payments. Then the bank started issuing letters of demand.
Initially we were granted some hardship relief, but then the perpetrator could see this helped me and said he wouldn’t agree to it. So the bank started harassing me again
I had to spend so much time making my case to the bank and proving the abuse I was experiencing before they finally agree to a financial hardship agreement without the knowledge of the perpetrator. Part of this agreement was proof that the properties were being listed for sale; which I provided.
When the properties sold, I thought I’d have some money to start again, but that’s when the legal systems abuse started.
I should have been able to buy a new property with the proceeds of the property sales but he dragged out Family Law proceedings, costing me money on all these unnecessary things, so pretty much all that money went on lawyers.
The private rent I pay is more than what we were paying on that mortgage. Renting isn’t the same, it never feels like ‘home’. It’s the insecurity of being in a place where the lease gets renewed every year, if you’re lucky. The uncertainty of that is terrible.
In retirement I just want a place of my own but I’m probably going to be forced to share with someone else just to be able to afford to live.
There are so many costs that aren’t counted when it comes to domestic abuse; all the time I’ve had to take off work, the inability to advance my career, and now living with housing insecurity which is more expensive than the secure housing I used to have. I’m really scared moving forward.