My Daughter was a very Loving and Caring Person. If someone needed anything Staci would always be there to help them. Staci Had a Very Big Heart. She worked as a caregiver to the disabled. On October 24th, 2020 My Daughter was Brutally Murdered by her Boyfriend Brandon Evans in which when she met him and he did not have a home and Staci let him move in with her and he abused my Daughter for a long time, but she would not say anything to anyone until June of 2020 when she had him put in jail for him beating her. Unfortunately when he was released from jail she took him back and he Brutally Stabbed my Daughter to Death on October 24th, 2020 the incident was on the Cincinnati News Channel. The police were called because of a domestic disturbance and once the first officer arrived he was confronted by Evans who was naked and holding a knife, the officer told him to drop the knife and he lunged forward at the officer and the officer shot Evans and he was dead at the scene.
This morning I read Ginger Zee’s personal experience on domestic abuse and it struck a chord with me in more ways than one.
Twelve years ago, I ended my engagement with my abusive, narcissistic psychopath ex. It was an emotional and verbally abusive relationship. There was an incident where I feared for my life and knew I had to get out and end things once and for all.
After ending my engagement, he stalked me & my daughter. He’d drive in our neighborhood to see what we were doing at random times of the day and night (mind you, he lived a good 30 minutes away from my condo).
Quite some time after the break-up, he stalked the new guy I was dating.
To avoid his unwanted text messages and voice mails (he’d call me and leave recordings of him out at night clubs to make me jealous) we changed our phone numbers so that he’d stop harassing us. I looked into a restraining order but that wouldn’t be enough.
Even before Gabby Petito’s case, I have been thinking about my own experience and how after twelve years, it’s time to tell my story. There’s more, a whole lot more that I can touch on but for now, this is a start.
While we lived an enviable life (living in a prestigious part of OC, driving expensive luxury cars, going on lavish vacations, etc…) there was a lot that people don’t see that goes on behind the closed doors in the gated community…it’s easy for others to judge you and think that “it can’t be that bad!!” Yes, it was “that bad!!” so bad that I moved my daughter and I out of his house while he was vacationing with his kids in Chicago, what does that tell you?!?!
I’m grateful I had the support of my family and friends to get out! I know that many don’t have this same opportunity. If you are in an abusive relationship, please know that you have options…call the cops, a pastor, counselor, friend….you are NOT ALONE!!
**Copied from Ginger Zee**
We also know that not everyone in an abusive situation has the support or education to ask for help. They likely don’t believe they deserve it.
Psychological abuse is often a precursor to physical and sexual abuse.
If someone had shown me these questions back then, I could have also answered yes and more. I feel so fortunate to have gotten out. Please tell someone if you are answering yes to any of this or more:
AM I BEING PSYCHOLOGICALLY ABUSED?
Does your partner:
• Threaten to harm you, your children, your family and/or your pets?
• Tell you are worthless and that no one else will ever love you?
• Isolate you from your friends and/or family?
• Control your behavior and monitor your movements and whereabouts? • Tell you that you are crazy?
• Demean you in public or in private?
• Constantly criticize you?
• Blame you for everything that goes wrong?
• Stalk you?
• Cause you to feel guilt over things that are not your fault?
• Threaten to take away your children
If so, your partner may be abusing you. For help, contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800- 799-SAFE (7233), or visit Domesticshelters.org to access professional help.
I felt like a prisoner to my circumstances, and with research showing that financial abuse happens in 99% of cases of domestic violence, I know I wasn’t alone (Adams, 2011).
I was a stay-at-home mom who only worked sporadically throughout the years part-time. He was the one who made the money in the relationship. I trusted him “as a good wife should.” I had three small children who demanded a lot of time and attention. I didn’t realize what was to come.
I remember towards the end of the relationship asking him if I could have control of the finances and paying the bills. I realized that he had a huge drug problem that he had been hiding, and many of our bills were past due. I was frantic because we were on the verge of being evicted from our home. To my dismay, he refused.
Desperately, I began job searching. I didn’t know how I would afford childcare, but I had to start somewhere. I finally landed a promising job interview with a construction company working in the office. I told him about it and that I needed to get a good night’s sleep the night before the interview. That evening, he started a fight with me out of nowhere. He forcefully grabbed my phone and was very agitated. Out of fear, I jumped into the car and fled. Since I didn’t have my phone or my GPS, I drove to a friend’s house and hoped she was home. I stayed with her for a few hours until I had to get back to my house to sleep. By the time I got home and calmed down from the adrenaline that was pumping through my body, it was after 2 AM.
The next morning, I woke up exhausted. He suddenly tried to act supportive and happy for this opportunity that I had, but the damage had been done. I was a sleepy, nervous wreck. The interview went as well as it could, but unfortunately, they hired someone else within the company. It was a blow to my self-esteem. He later admitted that he purposely started that fight to sabotage me. The thought of me making money meant financial freedom, and that was the last thing that he wanted me to have.
When I hit my breaking point, I escaped one night and called numerous shelters to see if they could take my children and me. My stomach dropped as I was told by each one, “sorry, we are full.” In my shame, I went back to the abuse because I felt like I had no other choice. I didn’t see until the end that he had used money as another way to manipulate and detain me. I had to make the hardest and bravest decision of my life without any resources. I finally reached out to anyone who would listen that I needed help. It was incredibly scary to reveal the abuse, but it was even scarier to think about staying in it. My children and I were homeless for 114 days, bouncing around couches and hotels. I was exhausted and even had money stolen from me while I was homeless by my ex-husband, but I finally was able to get on my feet and be financially and physically free from the abuse.
The Cunning Tactics of Financial Abuse
So many people describe domestic violence as being physical, sexual, emotional, or mental, but financial abuse is just as damaging. As stated in the beginning, although 99% of domestic abuse cases showed to have financial abuse prevalent in them, research has revealed that a staggering 78% of the American population did not claim it as a category of domestic violence in a 2014 report (NNEDV, 2019). Financial abuse comes in many different forms. Some examples are:
Controlling every aspect of the finances
Banning their partner from getting a job
Using means to sabotage their partner from gaining work or causing them to lose their job
Not including their partner in major financial decisions
Refusal to pay bills
Wrecking their partner’s credit score as a means to keep them down
Denying their partner of necessities
Refusal to help pay for children’s needs and/or support
Holding money for themselves and not contributing to household needs
Giving their partner an allowance (NNEDV, 2017)
These circumstances can leave victims in situations of poverty, and poverty doubles the chances of domestic violence in a woman’s life. These victims also can feel shame and fear regarding asking for economic assistance. Studies show out of four domestic violence victims, three will remain with their abuser for a longer time due to financial strain. Domestic violence is a public health issue that doesn’t just affect a victim’s income but also a nation’s. Nearly 6.3 billion dollars in 2015 was spent on mental health and direct medical services in the US. This problem goes far beyond a single household. (NNEDV, 2019)
How to Get Help
If you believe you are a victim of financial abuse, contact us at Break the Silence Against Domestic Violence through our webpage or social media accounts. You can also reach out to local agencies or the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE. These advocates can help you come up with a safety plan, find local resources, and get the help you need.
You can also reach out to family and friends. You must break the silence to live the life that you deserve. It took me doing the same to realize that many of my loved ones were happy to either give us money, supplies, or a place to stay once they knew of my circumstances that I had hidden for so long. There’s no shame in asking for help.
Also, learn to become financially dependent. There is help for childcare vouchers through your local entities so that you can work if you are a parent. Keep your passwords and accounts private. Hold anyone who tries to financially abuse you accountable. My ex-husband refused to pay child support, so I continue to use the Department of Revenue and my local court system to hold him to this because it’s another tactic of financial abuse. I am not the same girl I used to be, and I will stand against this now in every way.
You can be free from domestic violence: physically, emotionally, mentally, AND financially.
Adams, A. E. (2011). Measuring the effects of domestic violence on women’s financial well-being. CFS Research Brief, 5. https://centerforfinancialsecurity.files.wordpress.com/2015/04/adams2011.pdf
NNEDV: National Network to End Domestic Violence. (2017). About Financial Abuse. NNEDV: National Network to End Domestic Violence. https://nnedv.org/content/about-financial-abuse/
NNEDV: National Network to End Domestic Violence. (2019). Financial Abuse Fact Sheet. NNEDV: National Network to End Domestic Violence. https://nnedv.org/resources-library/financial-abuse-fact-sheet/
I prided myself on the fact that of the five people in my family as a child, I was the only one who wasn’t addicted to drugs. My entire family was hooked on prescription medication. My mother and father died from it when I was only 18 years old, just 3 weeks apart, and my brother overdosed 7 years later at the incredibly young age of 24 years old. I saw what drugs had done, and I never wanted to engage in it. I truly believed that I was free from all addictions.
That was until the day that I realized that my toxic relationship was my drug.
My name is Dana, and I am a recovering codependent.
I thought I was being loyal. “This is what godly wives do.” I watched my parents argue my entire life. It was ugly, loud, and toxic, but no matter how bad it got, they stayed together. As a result, I believed love endured all, even if it meant at your own expense and sanity. They never physically fought with each other, so I didn’t equate the relationship with abuse. I can now see where it was just that in other ways.
Drugs never tempted me. I saw what they did, and I wanted no part of it. I told everyone, “I will not be like my family.” I love them dearly and miss them every day, but I wanted to live differently. I have strong faith as a Christian, and I felt these things were enough to say that I was free from addiction.
One day, when I was at my very worst amid the abuse, I sat in silence. I felt numb and defeated. Suddenly, I heard a small voice inside of me speak:
“You say that you aren’t an addict and are not like your family, but that relationship is your addiction. You are going in the same direction as your parents, and if you don’t get out now, you will eventually die young, just as they did.”
I was in utter shock. It was the truth. I may not have been doing drugs, but I was following in their footsteps. I thought I couldn’t breathe without being in the marriage I was in, as crazy as it may sound. Being his wife was my identity. I met him at 15 years old. He was there through my parents’ and brother’s deaths. We had three beautiful children together. The trauma bond we had was as solid as stone, and I just couldn’t bear to lose one more person in my life, especially him. He was my addiction, and I needed to be set free of it.
Facts on Codependency
Codependency is defined as a disregard of one’s personal necessities due to a severe fixation with people and external objects. It is often started by a traumatic experience that bonds the codependent, whose self-worth is usually low. Fear causes the codependency to get gradually worse due to emotions being suppressed by the codependent. This is seen often with families who have drug and alcohol struggles within them. (Cermak et al., 1989)
According to the journal, Patient Care (1989), some of the traits of a codependent are the following:
“Denial–of problems, of another’s condition, of feelings”
“Adherence to special rules of survival in a dysfunctional family, such as not talking about family secrets”
“Toleration of other people’s unreasonable behavior”
“Inability to break a codependent relationship without help”
“Persistent efforts to achieve the unachievable, such as willing a spouse away from alcoholism to abstinence”
“No understanding of normal behavior”
“Extreme anxiety and role distortions about intimacy and separation”
“Low self-esteem” (Cermak et al., 1989)
Many codependents originate by feeling helpless in their childhoods, and to cope, they learn to take on the role of the compliant caretaker, maintaining peace in the home out of fear of abandonment or rejection from one or more parents. Their self-worth is derived from the praise and admiration they get from exhibiting such behavior, but it’s at a cost and in exchange for their own feelings and emotions. Children are never meant to take on such burdens, and it becomes an unfortunate learned behavior, often plaguing their adult relationships. It’s a cycle that needs to be broken just like any other addiction. (Sullivan, 2018)
The codependent is a sitting duck for another type of person: a narcissist. Looking for someone to “fix” and show their undying loyalty to, a codependent is easily swayed by the charm, love-bombing, and manipulation of the narcissist. They exploit every bit of compassion and empathy a person has for them. Both narcissists and codependents are also fueled by shame and fear of abandonment, so they effortlessly bond together in the most dangerous way. The narcissist looks to the codependent to feed their ego, meet their needs, and reassure their worth, while the codependent eagerly obliges to it all. Ultimately, it will never be enough to feed the narcissist’s supply, and the codependent will exhaust themselves in the process. (Sullivan 2018)
What to Do if You are a Codependent
The first step to breaking codependency is realizing that you have a problem, to begin with. It takes courage to admit you have an addiction even if it’s to a person. Second, you must evaluate relationships in your life and see if they are toxic to your recovery. Sometimes, a codependent gets in a relationship with a healthy individual, and therapy can help the person heal with the connection intact; however, many cases are not so. My marriage was abusive and unhealthy, and I couldn’t heal in the place that made me sick. I had to cut my addiction cold turkey.
I will tell you, as with any addiction, the more you feed it the longer it takes to go away. I would have slip-ups when I first left my ex-husband where I would still act like we were a couple even though we were separated. It eventually came back to bite me when he abused me again. I knew I had to become strong and put my foot down. I started therapy and discovered a person whose needs and wants I never even considered because of putting everyone else’s first: me. I realized that I was worth fighting for, was a pretty cool girl, and deserved relationships with people that were interdependent, where both parties mutually give and take. This included friendships, family relationships, and intimate partners. My ex-husband wasn’t the only person in my life that I realized that I needed to distance myself from. Codependency doesn’t discriminate against people in our lives in other avenues. Chances are many relationships in your life are toxic if you are codependent.
You CAN heal from codependency! I am living proof that you can metamorphose into a healthy person who values yourself while loving others in a beneficial way to both parties involved. You can find romance after abuse that isn’t a toxic rollercoaster. I can stand proudly and say that I have broken the generational addictions of my family’s past, and I will teach my sons to continue this cycle instead. I still revere and respect my recovery, so I am never too prideful to think I couldn’t go back to what I was taught in my childhood, so I hold healthy boundaries in place in my life to keep me accountable. It’s a lifelong journey that I will work hard to sustain.
Recovery from codependency can be a beautiful adventure of self-love if you allow yourself to take the journey.
Cermak, T. L., Hunt, T., & Keene, B. (1989). Codependency: more than a catchword. Patient Care, 23(13), 131+. https://link.gale.com/apps/doc/A7889009/AONE?u=gain40375&sid=bookmark-AONE&xid=34d0a790
Sullivan, K. (2018). The Structure of Codependency and its Relationship to Narcissism. Journal of Heart Centered Therapies, 21(1), 53+. https://link.gale.com/apps/doc/A539922311/AONE?u=gain40375&sid=bookmark-AONE&xid=28561482
On March 22nd of this year, most of us were still wrapping our heads around the fact that the pandemic was still hampering our lives more than a year after the first shutdowns took effect in the United States. Maybe we were looking forward to getting out of the house and enjoying some spring weather, after being trapped inside the previous March and April. Maybe we were getting excited for a full 162-game baseball season to get started. Maybe we were making Easter, Passover, or other holiday plans. Karen Robbins wasn’t doing any of those things.
On March 22nd, Robbins testified in front of the Connecticut General Assembly about a type of financial abuse that often goes unrecognized. While it is uncertain whether her testimony swayed any voted, I think we can all agree that if she wants to take credit for the passage of the bill in question, she has every right to do that. It can be hard to tell your friends and family when you have been abused, physically or financially. It must be agony to bear your soul in front of elected officials; some of whom you know will be ignoring your pleas, and voting against you.
A Different Kind of Financial Abuse
Most of us have at least a general idea about certain types of financial abuse. We can see it when a friend’s husband is controlling every aspect of her monetary freedom.
She may say things like…
“He won’t let me buy it.”
“Oh, I will have to ask him if I can pick up this present.”
“Hopefully he doesn’t see this lunch on the bank statement.”
While we still need to work hard to raise awareness of that type of financial abuse, a different form flies even further below the radar.
Karen Robbins was the victim of coercive debt. Her ex-husband’s use of her name, and her credit (many times without her knowledge or consent) left her with a combined debt of almost $1,000,000. That is an absurd amount of money for a Middle-Class woman to be expected to pay. Still, the fact that she was married to her abuser, he had limitless access to her personal information, and her solid credit. $700,000 of that dept was acquired using the house that is in her name as collateral.
Of course, Karen eventually discovered all of this was happening behind her back, and she filed for divorce. The pandemic, however, stalled many of the proceedings, and nobody would be surprised to find out that her ex isn’t paying the family support, and legal fees he has been ordered to pay. In addition to the debt, lack of payment, and the fact that he ruined her credit score, she can’t even borrow the money she needs to maintain a household. Karen’s ex has lost, and she has been found to have done nothing wrong in a court of law, but none of that matters, because he has so thoroughly ruined her life.
Now, Karen’s abuser continues to have immense control over her, even after the divorce. If she pushes too hard against him, he just doesn’t have to pay what he owes. Our legal system has just handed him all of the cards, after he stacked the deck.
What Legally Can Be Done to Help?
Robbins cited a law that was passed in Texas in 2019. That law, according to Robbins’ testimony, “expanded the definition of identity theft to include debt incurred through direct or indirect coercion. By including this language, Texas lawmakers created a clear pathway for victims to clear their names and begin life anew.” This provision was included in the bill when it passed.
Connecticut State Rep. Eleni Kavros DeGraw believes this wording is critical, according to her conversations with Yahoo Money. “The definition really helps courts, advocates that are in the courts, and the judges recognize that we aren’t just looking for bruises when we are looking for signs of abuse in a relationship,”
Without providing a way for survivors to get out from under this debt, they are intrinsically tied to their abusers. This not only makes their financial lives harder, and makes it harder to provide for their families; but it hinders them emotionally, as well. You can’t heal, and move past an abusive relationship, if your day-to-day life is still connected to the abuse and abuser through legal means.
There is no doubt in my mind that over the next few months and years, we will talk about the ways child custody is used in similar ways. Almost every person doing domestic violence work knows at least a handful of women who are being practically held hostage by men who are using the courts and custody laws to exert control over their exes.
Coercive debt puts many women in very similar situations, but there doesn’t even need to be a fight over custody. To use Karen’s situation as an example, she was the one who was on the hook for the debt. He didn’t have to go to court to try to take that control, because that was already the starting point.
Robbins used two incredible (but, unfortunately, all-too-credible) statistics to make her point perfectly clear.
The National Network to End Domestic Violence conducted research in 2018 that would astonish someone who hasn’t experience or doesn’t work in the field of domestic violence. The survey concluded that 94 to 99 percent of domestic violence situations contain elements of financial abuse. That is essentially closer to 100 percent than the margin-of-error in most polls. It would not be hyperbole to state that this research shows that essentially every woman who experiences physical violence in an intimate-partner setting also experiences financial abuse. They are not two different problems; they are two sides of the same coin.
When you flip the script, it doesn’t get much better. It is one thing to see the numbers that show when physical violence is present, you can also expect to see financial abuse. What is even more remarkable is that the 2007 Consumer Bankruptcy Project found that almost 18% “of females married
or living with a partner at the time of bankruptcy filing also reporting domestic violence in the
That statistic is very clear in its wording. It specifically states, “reporting domestic violence.” Obviously, not every family that files for bankruptcy is one that is abusive. Sometimes loving couples face medical bills, unforeseen job gaps, poor financial decisions, or a global pandemic. Still, knowing that not nearly all domestic violence is reported, especially in a way that would make it easy to calculate in this study, makes that 18% number seems astronomical.
Greed Is Not Good
While it is anecdotal evidence, it definitely rings true. A bank or financial institution is not a court of law. These entities exist, in our Capitalist society, to make money. Whether or not you agree with that, is irrelevant. It is the framework under which we have to proceed. Karen testified that she found many banks agreed with her. She was clearly able to show the chain of events that caused the debt. The bank has no interest in correcting the situation. Relief would hurt the bottom line. The bank also has no authority to come down with rulings. It would take going through the courts to officially rule that someone has officially broken the law. Even showing indisputable evidence to a bank that documents contain forged signatures do nothing, because ruling on matters such as these are specifically matters for the judicial system.
Robbins later stated…
“Instead, these companies claim debt amassed through jointly-held credit is the responsibility of both parties, even if one partner had no idea their name was on any given account. The same holds true for credit cards fraudulently opened in the name of one spouse by the other without permission or consent.”
Karen felt that the banks had “revictimized” her through her dealings with them.
“There is one obvious reform that can be made to address this problem. The Assembly should require financial services companies to offer expedited account review and settlement processes to victims of spousal abuse who provide documentation of forged instruments and similar verifiable evidence proving that account access was fully controlled by the abusive partner”.
Credit Needs to Take Some Blame
The way credit scores dominate almost every aspect of our lives can almost be overwhelming. Policies are in place at the credit agencies to prevent them from clearing debt accumulated in the ways Robbins has described. She believes that this also needs to change.
Robins has some great ideas for ways legislation can ensure that credit agencies aren’t able to continue to aide abusers.
“This problem can be avoided by requiring Credit Rating agencies to expedite a review of
all disputed accounts within 30 days and mandating restoration of positive credit scores for all
victims who provide documentation of forged instruments and verifiable evidence that access
to outstanding bank and credit accounts was fully controlled by the abusive partner.”
A Brighter Future
This story does have a good ending. Robbins mentioned the Texas law that went into effect, and this Connecticut bill passed, as well. There are dozens of politicians on the national level who are also fighting for these measures to help all Americans.
Here at Break the Silence Against Domestic Violence, our mission is right in our name. We know that sunlight is the best disinfectant for cases of abuse. Karen Robbins’ testimony, and the resulting changes in actual policy shows that we can make a difference by just speaking our truths.
When Robbins spoke with Yahoo Money, she made a chilling statement. “He always told me that he had the finances covered and would get angry when I asked questions. So, I stopped.”
He silenced her. He stopped her questioning. The abusers will always try to get you to stop speaking out against abuse. Karen showed us why they do that. When we speak out against abuse, we can make change. The name “Karen” has taken on a negative term in the meme world, but here is one situation where it is perfectly acceptable to act like a “Karen.” When that means emulating Karen Robbins, it is just fine.
References for this blog can be found at:
Recently, I wrote a blog about some prominent examples of credible abuse in sports in recent months. The main point of the blog was to highlight what was happening with Trever Bauer, who was a pitcher for the Los Angeles Dodgers. The link to that blog is a part of this post.
After fairly brutal pictures surfaced of a woman who is claiming Bauer sexually-assaulted her, the 2020 Cy Young Award winner was placed on leave from the team. It became obvious that the Dodgers were working with Major League Baseball, and most likely the Major League Baseball Players Association to get out the contract owed to Bauer. Still, the Los Angeles organization stuck to its guns, and did not allow Bauer back on the team for the rest of the season.
The Dodgers could have used the incredible hurler, to be honest. For the first time since 2012, Los Angeles did not win the National League West Division, despite posting 106 wins in the regular season. The San Francisco Giants, who share the division, put up 107 victories. You don’t have to be an expert to know that Bauer could have helped them win at least one more game.
Well, last night, the Dodgers pulled off a minor upset, by eliminating the Giants from the Playoffs with a two-to-one win in San Francisco.
What makes this so significant?
The pitcher who took the mound to get the final three outs of that game was Max Scherzer. For years, Scherzer has been many things. He has been a dominating right-handed starting pitcher. He has been a “workhorse” who was incredibly durable, and pitched a lot of innings. The one thing he most certainly wasn’t over the past few years was a Los Angeles Dodger. The organization went out and made a blockbuster trade to acquire Max Scherzer and Trea Turner from the Washington Nationals; specifically, to fill the hole vacated by Bauer.
Turner won the National League Batting Title, and Scherzer pitched the most important inning the team has had to this point in the season. It really said something about the team’s commitment to not accepting violence against women to not bend under the pressure to earn more victories. That is why, it was a little poetic justice to see Scherzer in that spot last night; during Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Any athlete would love to be in that situation. Trevor Bauer wasn’t, and it was because of his actions.