Leaving my relationship was only the start
November 25, 2022
After leaving her violent relationship, Amy* quickly realised starting again was going to be harder than she thought because of the economic harm that left her with poor credit history and bad debt tied to her name.
Life was good before the family violence. I had been working at a medical centre in Auckland for many years and had recently taken my eldest two children to the Gold Coast, our first holiday.
Then I met him, my ex.
While I was in that relationship I felt isolated from everyone. I was holding down a full-time job, trying to overcome postnatal depression after a traumatic birth and working with injuries from the violence. When I would return home after work, I couldn’t do anything for myself because I had to meet other people’s demands.
I remember the week before I left the relationship my phone went missing suspiciously for a whole week. I had no contact with anyone.
The night I left with my kids I was beaten in front of our whole street. We left everything behind but leaving was only the start of my journey.
Trying to start again
I had a serious concussion from the beating, a bad credit history and $15,000 debt that we both incurred, which I was left to deal with on my own.
I had no real starting point and too many important issues to sort out all at once.
Initially, we lived in a Women’s Refuge. I kept a notebook with names and numbers of some of the many people and organisations I got in touch with – there were 20 for a start.
By the time we left Refuge six months later because the lockdown had been so hard, I had been connected with double – 40 different people and organisations.
Everything linked to money was hard, really hard. I had sympathy because I was in a Refuge but not a lot of places understood what that meant.
I was always on the end of the phone asking to delay payments or set up to make new arrangements because of my situation – but I wasn’t allowed to without incurring more fees.
For instance, I rang the debt collection agency to make arrangements for the parking ticket I had and my first problem was my address. I had to use someone else’s also explaining I was in Refuge. The second frustrating bit was they wouldn’t take what money I could afford to set up the payment. They were aware of my situation, but it made no difference.
I had so many difficulties with MSD. I really struggled to get what I needed from them. What did help was Women’s Refuge having their own MSD case manager.
After Refuge it took four months of us floating around – regularly hungry and financially exhausted before we found a home – and we only managed to find a place because of someone I knew.
A new home
In my new home, I had to have guarantors for my utilities. Including the power company I had used for my last four rentals over the past ten years. My record wasn’t good enough for them because of my credit history and I didn’t have the couple of hundred dollars they wanted in bond either.
When it came to negotiating repayments and leaning on other community services, I had to prove my story each time with all my paperwork, including the protection order.
When we moved into our new home, I met my Financial Mentor, Mike. It had been nearly a year since I had left my relationship.
Once I connected with Mike, he connected me to Vanessa from Good Shepherd NZ, and I knew then I was onto something. I finally had support to deal with the money side of things and I wasn’t fighting on my own.
It was thanks to both their backing and knowledge, that I was able to actually get somewhere. Vanessa was a God-send. Her expertise and ability to relate made everything less daunting.
I remember Vanessa helping me reach out to my bank for support with my $6,000 debt.
When the bank wiped the debt, I just cried! It didn’t seem real. It halved my debt problem and I could finally begin to see the end – free from everything that tied me to this old relationship.
The best option I had left to get rid of the remaining debt was to tap into my Kiwisaver – Vanessa helped me with the application. Getting rid of my debt made the most difference because I was finally free to make choices.
Now I am back working and am in private practice. I’m able to buy kai for my whānau and save a small amount of money each week.
This is what freedom looks like for me – living within our means, no longer relying on other people or organisations and making my own decisions.
*The name and any identifying details have been changed to protect the privacy of the person involved
If you are concerned about economic harm or want to talk to someone about the money side of your relationship, our Financial Wellbeing Coach – Economic harm is trained in advocacy and understands the impact of economic harm.
You can speak to her by calling 0800 466 370 option 4.
Or you can click here to find more support