Financial Rebuilding Guide for Domestic Violence Survivors

Published on 24 Apr 2020 . 1 min read

guide to become financially and economically independent for domestic violence abuse victims guide to become financially and economically independent for domestic violence abuse victims

Part I : In a Violent Relationship 2


Quiz : Are You A Victim Of Economic Abuse ? 4


This Guide 4

Emergency Evacuation Box 5

Safe Box 5


WorkSheet : My Plan To Keep My Records Safe 6

Taking A Financial Inventory 7

If You Are The Money Manager 7

If Your Partner Controls the Money 8

Income 8

Financial Property 8

Real Property 9

Debt 9

EXERCISE : Where To Look 10

WORKSHEET : Your Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth 10

Building A Financial Base 13

Estimate Income and Expenses 13

Set Aside Your Own Money 14

Keeping Your Money Safe 15

Taking Care of Debts 15

Getting Credit 15

Worksheet : My Plan For Building A Financial Base 16

Finding Help 16

Worksheet : My Plan For Learning More 17

Part Two : 18

Leaving The Relationship 18

Finding A Place To Live 19

Domestic Violence Programs 19

Hotels 19

Subsidized Housing 19

Renting an Apartment 20

WORKSHEET : My Housing Plan 21

Getting A Job 21

Job Openings 21

If You Have a Job 21

Tip : Upgrading Your Job 22

If You Don’t Have a Job 23

The Interview 23

Evaluating Employee Benefits 24

Worksheet : My Job Hunting Plan 24

Seven Steps to Good Credit 25

Managing Your Money 25

Getting Organized 25

Keep Your Money Safe 26

Saving for an Emergency - and More 27

Spend Smart 27

Use a Spending Plan 28

Take Control of Credit and Debt 28

Protect What You Have : Insurance 29

Worksheet : My Money Management Plan 30

Divorce and Other Legal Considerations 30

Getting Legal Help 31

Choosing A Lawyer 31

Property and Other Assets 32

Injunctions 32

Divorce and Child Support 32

Worksheet : My Legal Plan 34

Looking Toward the Future 34

My goals and dreams : 35

Part I: In a Violent Relationship

The first four chapters of this guide are written primarily for women who are in an abusive situation and are thinking about their options, but the information also may be useful for women who have left the relationship. You will learn tips for keeping your financial documents safe, how to inventory your assets and debts, and ways to start setting aside some money of your own. 

For the purposes of this guide, we assume that the victim is a woman and an abuser is a man. We recognize that some women abuse women and that gay and lesbian couples may experience domestic violence and in addition to a partner, inlaws can also be the abuser. The information in this guide can be useful in these situations as well. 


Taking even small steps toward financial freedom will help you feel more confident that you can cope on your own if you leave the relationship. Some of the steps suggested here can be done easily, and some will require a lot of time. There’s one thing however that is more important than any of the information in this guide and that is you and your children need to stay safe. If, at any time, you are in danger, do not wait to organize your finances collect valuables, or call a lawyer. Get out immediately! Call 100 and 1091, call your local domestic violence program, phone a family member or friend, or walk away. Many people and organizations are waiting to help you. For a medical emergency, you can call 108 for the ambulance service as well.

Quiz: Are You A Victim Of Economic Abuse?

Abusers often hide and control money to keep an upper hand in the relationship. This is economic abuse. Ask yourself if any of the following statement applies to you. 

� I want to work, but he won’t allow it.

� I have a job, but he demands that I hand my salary over to him. 

� He hides money from me. 

� I hide money from him so he won’t get mad if I buy something

� The house is in his name only. 

� The bank accounts are all in his name only. 

� If I don’t spend any money, I think we’ll get along better. 

� I must go to him for everything, even for money to buy innerwear. 

� He pays the credit card bills, but he never gives me cash. 

� I don’t know how much money he earns or has in the bank. 

� I can’t spend any money without being questioned by him. 

� He makes me sign documents without me understanding any of them. 

� He forged my signature on documents. 

� I have no access to my bank statements. 

� He put bills in my name. 

� He has stopped working/or depends on me for all his costs but still controls me. 

� When I ask for money, he always refuses. 


Let’s start by looking at ways to keep your financial documents and other important documents safe so that if you decide to leave, you will have access to this information. 

This Guide

If you think your abuse will get upset if he sees you with this guide, put a security lock on this app!

Emergency Evacuation Box

The Red Cross recommends that every family has an emergency evacuation box to take with them if they suddenly have to leave home because of a fire, flood, or other natural disasters. The box has in it copies of the family’s important documents, such as birth certificates, insurance policies, savings account numbers, and so on. 

Think of your box as a type of emergency evacuation box in case you must leave suddenly because of domestic violence. The information you put in your box will help you put your life back together once you are away from the abuser. You also may want to place login information for your SHEROES account in the box to protect your privacy. 

If you have room, include and special photos or heirlooms that you think your abuser might destroy if you leave suddenly (but only if he won’t notice that they’re gone ). Or, move items you own and he won’t miss a friends’ or relatives’ house. 

Put your box in a safe place where you can quickly grab it on the way out. For example, you might hide the box in the garage, in your car, or somewhere near your underwear shelf at home. Or, give the box to a trusted friend to keep for you. Hiding a toothbrush, your medicine and a change of clothes where you can quickly grab them is another good idea. 

Safe Box 

Buy a small metal file box or even a small cardboard box. Make copies of the following documents and put the copies in the box : 

� Birth certificates for you and your children

� Marriage certificate (if married)

� Passport and/or Aadhar 


� All Medical Documents from the Doctor 

� School Documents

� Saving Account Bank Statement

� Credit Card Information 

� Loan/Mortgage Information 

� A user id and passwords for all online transactions, not just bank account but also Income Tax, Social Media Accounts, Safety Vaults. 

� The most recent credit report for your PAN 

� ITR for the past two years (if applicable) 

� Car Title

� House Deed or Rental Agreement 

� Insurance Policy Numbers and Companies 

� Any Retirement Plan Statements 

� Photos of valuable collections, jewelry (these are useful in case of a divorce)

� Documentation of past incidents of abuse (medical documentation, police reports, and photos of any injuries) 

� Address and telephone numbers of domestic violence programs in your area

� Address and telephone numbers of police, employer, school and friends or relatives who will help you. 


If you use your home computer to explore issues related to domestic violence or regaining your financial independence, make sure your abuser cannot trace your activities. (Delete temporary internet files and “cookies”) 

Be cautious about giving out personal information, such as your address, telephone number, or Aadhar. Do not allow sensitive emails to be sent to your home computer. Instead, provide an email address you access at a friends’ house or at work (if your work email is private). When you send an email from home, erase it from the in-box, the out-box, and the trash.

If you do Internet research at home, erase any bookmarks or trails that would show you have visited sites that might upset your abuser. 

WorkSheet: My Plan To Keep My Records Safe 

Important: Though out this guide, you can record important information about your situation by clicking on the links here, and filling in the information to publish the post or keep the information safe on your SHEROES account. 

  1. I set up an emergency evacuation box on (date). It has the following items : 



I hid it ______

  1. I set up a safe deposit box at ____ bank on (date) for an annual cost of ___.
  2. In my wallet, I have keys to the _______, _____ in cash and the addresses and telephone numbers of ____________
  3. I took the following steps to protect the privacy of my email and internet research. __________

Congratulations! You have taken the first step in regaining control of your financial life. You have recognized that you have a right to privacy and you have begun to protect that privacy. 

Taking A Financial Inventory

All women should know about their family’s finances so they will be prepared if they are faced with an unexpected illness, death, divorce, or another type of financial emergency. Women in abusive relationships have an even more urgent need to know what they own and what they owe. If they decide to leave and eventually file for divorce, they must know what the couple owns and owes to get a fair settlement. 

It’s easy to put off doing this kind of financial inventory, especially if you know it will be difficult to find the information. But once it’s done, you’ll feel more secure about your ability to take charge of your life. 

Please remember: How long two people have been in a relationship and how they own their assets will affect how those assets will be divided in the event of a divorce. It is important for you to seek legal advice about your rights to assets in the relationship even if you haven’t decided to leave. In this guide, we assume you are married to the abuser or have had a live-in relationship for several years. 


Read Before You Start Collecting Information: At various places in this guide, we discuss consulting outside persons for information, like your husband’s employer. You should only do this if you think it is safe to talk to the person and your abuser will not find out. 

If You Are The Money Manager

If you take care of the money in your house, it should be easy for you to make a list of all the assets and liabilities your family has. Don’t rely on your memory. Write everything down, including names, account numbers, and passwords. Make copies of important documents. 

Think of everything you and your partner own either together or separately as well as everything you and your partner owe. A form is provided at the end of this chapter to help you compile your list. Don’t forget to do some extra checking if you suspect your partner is hiding assets or debts from you or may have purchased things in the name of your kids, opened minor bank accounts. 

If Your Partner Controls the Money

It’s not uncommon for abusive partners to also control the family money. If you are in this situation, you may have to do some spying to get an accurate picture of your financial information. This can take a lot of courage, but you should not feel guilty about your actions. You have a right to know where you stand financially. 

At the same time do not jeopardize your safety. If you think your abuser will become angry if he discovers you looking at this financial documentation, be very careful. You may be better off to get out of the relationship first and then hire a lawyer to help you even if it means not being able to get all the assets you should get. Finding 10,000 rupees in hidden savings is not worth the 20,000 rupees hospital bill or worse, your life. 

Let’s start 


If you don’t know what your abusive partner earns and you can’t ask without arousing suspicion, look for salary slips or regular deposits written in his savings account passbook. Find out where his bank statements are kept and go through them to see if his salary is deposited automatically. Watch for other sources of income, such as interest and dividend payments, or rent transfers if he owns the property. Watch for payout cycles, the timing of payments he makes, and the amount thereof. It can give a fair idea of the income bracket he falls in.

One of the best ways to get income information is from his ITR (Income Tax Return). 

Financial Property 

The financial property includes assets like fixed / recurring deposits, checking accounts, mutual funds, brokerage accounts, retirement plans (apart from PPF), and life insurance policies. Do you have any of these assets in your name alone? If you do, great! Make sure you keep them separate. Put paperwork about your own assets in your emergency evacuation box or in a bank locker. 

In addition, make a list of all the financial property you and your partner have together, or that he owns alone. If your partner does not share this information with you, look through the post that comes to the house. If you suspect that he has his post sent to his office and you have access to the office, go there after hours or on the weekends to find out what’s filed there. Only do this if you know that no one will report your visit to him. Make sure you're not trespassing, violating any privacy rules while trying to access his financial info.

If your name is on the bank and investment accounts, you can call the bank or brokerage firm yourself. Information about employer retirement plans can be obtained from his company’s plan administrator. Ask if the plan is subject to joint and survivor requirements, meaning you also will be entitled to benefits if your abuser dies first. If it is and you are named the beneficiary, your partner cannot remove your name without your consent before the divorce. He can, however, take you and the children off his health insurance or life insurance policies at work unless you have a legal document that requires him to maintain coverage.

Similarly, you cannot close out joint fixed/recurring deposits or savings accounts without his signature, but you may have the right to withdraw half of all the money without his consent. Check with your lawyer first. You may also be able to cancel credit cards that are in both names, but bank policies on this vary. Call the credit card issuer, explain your situation and ask if you can cancel a joint credit card or at least remove your name from it. 

Real Property

Real property includes the house, car, jewelry, furniture, and so on. Remember the Sreedharan you brought with yourself at the wedding still remains your own property. Make a list of everything you and your partner own, either together or separately, take photos of the property and make copies of key documents like car titles or house deeds. Put this information in your emergency evacuation box or bank locker. 


If you have signed for a loan with the abuser, have a credit card in both names, etc you will be responsible for these obligations even if you leave. An exception may be credit cards he applied for in both names if you had no knowledge of the credit card [ You can use this point in a legal complaint as he can't get this done without forging your signatures or manipulating you] and never used it; ask the bank if they will waive your responsibility for the debt in this situation. 

The bottom line about debts: Don’t ignore them. To rebuild your life, you must have a realistic idea of what you owe as well as what you own. One way to check on your indebtedness is to get a copy of your credit report. You may have to pay a small fee. Or you may be able to order a free report from one of the following major credit reporting agencies, and have it sent to your email id : 

  • Experian
  • CIBIL 

EXERCISE: Where To Look 

If your partner is hiding financial information from you, here are some places to look : 

  1. Garage, basement, or any other room where he spends a lot of time but doesn’t seem to accomplish anything in. This can be his study, workstation at home, private closet.
  2. The glove box of his car even Boot of car, tool kit, things of his interest like a guitar piano boxing gloves, dumbbells.
  3. Office at work. 

Also, keep in mind that a very controlling person may put “traps” in place so he can tell if someone looked at his documents. Watch out for odd pieces of paper, tape, hair, or the like. Be Careful! 

WORKSHEET: Your Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth

Liabilities (Debts) Owed 

Name/Account #


Home Loan/Mortgage







Car/Vehicle Loan







Credit Card Debt







Other Loans








Spouse/partner assets


My assets


Our assets


Spouse/partner liabilities


My liabilities


Our liabilities




Name/Account #
















Fixed/Recurring Deposit Accounts







Savings Accounts














PPF, Retirement Plans













Coin or other collection


Rental property 




Other : 


Spouse/Partner’s Net Worth (Assets - Liabilities) 

My Net Worth

Our Net Worth 

Building A Financial Base 

Sometimes an abusive situation escalates so fast that a woman must leave immediately, even if she doesn’t have any money in her pocket. That is far better than waiting and risking her life. The money problems can always be figured out later. < Example of Rihanna? Some Indian celebrity with a similar past? > 

In other cases, however, the woman hasn’t made a decision to leave. Or, she feels safe enough to wait until she sets aside some of her own money. If you are in one of those situations, the suggestions in this chapter can help you build a financial base so you can gain more confidence in your ability to take care of yourself and your children on your own. 

Note: As you read this chapter, don’t get discouraged if your expenses seem far more than you can afford. There are many agencies that can assist you in finding shelter housing, subsidized child care, and food and medical assistance for low-income families. You also may be able to get a court injunction for a maintenance payment and child support from your abuser. 

Call a domestic violence helpline in your area to find out what help is available. You can make it on your own. 

Estimate Income and Expenses

A good way to start building your own financial base is to estimate what it would cost you to live on your own. After you have this estimate, you can make a plan to start working on any shortfalls. 

A spending plan worksheet is provided at the end of this guide for you to use in estimating your income and expenses. 

  • Expenses: To estimate rent costs, look up the area you want to live in on websites like or check out newspaper ads for rental property. Call the telephone and electricity distribution companies in the area to get an estimate on phone/WiFi and electricity costs. Base your food budget on your own current budget, minus any cutbacks (such as one less person to feed!). Don’t forget to estimate what your credit card or other loan payments will be. 
  • Income: If you have a job, enter your monthly income here. If you don’t work now, what kind of jobs are you qualified to do? Read job ads to learn what those positions pay in your area. Also notice that income includes child support. Again, your local domestic violence helplines may be able to help with estimates. 
  • Compare income and expenses: If your income exceeds your estimated expenses, you should be in good shape financially if you decide to leave. If not, there are ways to solve the problem. Your family or a good friend may be able to help you out financially for a while. You can get additional job training for you can qualify for a higher paying job. No matter what the numbers look like, don’t let them stop you from getting away from a violent situation. Making it on your own can be painful, but it is much less painful than depending on a man who abuses or hurts you. 

Set Aside Your Own Money 

Every woman should have some money of her own, no matter her situation. Being financially independent opens additional options to you. 

For women in abusive relationships, it’s even more important to set aside a few thousand rupees. Your goal might be three months' rent for an apartment in case you leave. Or, it might be three nights stay in a hotel, or even just enough for a taxi to your family’s house. Whatever your savings goal, you can reach it with some effort and creativity. 

Here are some ideas that women, happily married or not, have used throughout the years.

Tip: If your abuser finds your stash, have ready an excuse, such as saving to buy a present for him. 

  • If he gives you money to buy groceries, shop for sales, and pocket the money you save. 
  • If you get paid in cash, hide part of the money. 
  • Take a part-time job he doesn’t know about. 
  • If he doesn’t keep track of household expenses, tell him the service providers have raised their prices, and pocket the difference. 
  • Sell clothes you don’t wear
  • If he pays the credit card without questions, charge some items for your friends and then have them pay you back in cash. 
  • Look around the house for stashes of cash, If you don’t think he’ll miss it, make some money from time to time. 
  • If you get a raise at work, don’t tell him. Instead, put the money in your own savings account. 
  • Pay yourself first out of any money your abuser gives you to pay other bills. Even a few hundred rupees a week will add up. 
  • Collect extra change you find on drawers or in your purse and save it. Once a month, take it to the bank to get cash. 
  • If you have a job and go out for lunch every day, start bringing your lunch from home and save the difference. 
  • Make sure your car/vehicle stays in good repair and keep it full of gas/petrol in case you have to leave suddenly. 
  • If you and your partner have a savings account in both names and you decide to leave, have a plan for the money. Ask a lawyer if you legally can withdraw part or all of it before your abuser finds out you have left. 

Keeping Your Money Safe

Where should you put the money you are saving on your own? You can start by putting it in your emergency evacuation box or a bank locker. But a better way to keep your money safe is to set up your own fixed deposit or savings account if at all possible at a different bank or credit union than the one your abuser uses. 

Call several banks or credit unions to compare costs and features. If you don’t have any experience in using a savings account, ask a bank representative to help you get started. 

To keep your savings account private, give your parents home address as your address. 

Taking Care of Debts

If you will be responsible for debts you and your partner have incurred, try to take care of some of them before you leave. For example, if you pay the household bills, pay off the credit cards in both your names before you pay loans that are only in your partners’ names. If possible, cancel all credit cards that are in both names before you leave, or take your name off the account. 

If you owe money on a car, try to make extra payments, or have a plan for selling the car after you leave for one that is less expensive. If your abuser pays the credit card bills without questioning what you buy, charge things you will need if you leave, such as clothes for work, winter wear for the kids, or new tires for the car. 

Getting Credit

If you have never had your own credit card or signed on a loan, you may not have any credit history at all. This can make it difficult to get a loan in the future, or even to pay for a hotel if you leave suddenly and don’t have any cash. 

Try to get some credit in your own name by applying for a bank credit card. If the credit card issuer wants another signer, ask a friend or relative to sign with you, not your abuser. If you think he will get upset if he finds the credit card, keeps it in your emergency evacuation box. Then, use the credit card to make some purchases, and pay it off every month to start building good credit. 

Worksheet: My Plan For Building A Financial Base

  1. I have completed my estimated income and expense worksheet: Yes   No 
  2. I have started setting aside my own money by doing the following: ____
  3. My savings goal is: ____
  4. I have set up my own savings account: Yes No 
  5. I have a plan for getting my debt under control: Yes No
  6. I have my own credit card: Yes No

Finding Help

Women in abusive relationships frequently feel isolated and helpless. Often don’t know that there are many people and organizations ready to help them. 

If you are in this situation, start checking around. You may be surprised at the places where you can find information and support. Here are just a few places to start : 

  • Your local public library: Even small ones will have books about both money management and domestic violence. The library can also be a good place to keep your Internet research private. 
  • Internet: Some web sites are recommended at the end of this guide. Or, simply go to a web search engine and type in the words “domestic violence” or “financial planning”
  • Mahila Aayog: Look in the emergency numbers stored on your SIM card or check out this list on SHEROES to find the number of the domestic violence program nearest you. You don’t have to be out of the abusive relationship to receive assistance from these programs. 
  • Religious and Community groups: Churches, temples, and community organizations often provide financial assistance, counseling and support groups for victims of domestic violence. 
  • Legal Aid: If you can, talk to a lawyer before you leave so you know your legal rights. To get a referral to a low-income legal aid, go to your nearest family court and ask for the Protection Officer. 

Worksheet: My Plan For Learning More 

  1. I have read or will read the following books : 
  2. I have visited the following websites : 
  3. I have contacted the following organizations (include telephone numbers) 

Part Two :

Leaving The Relationship 

Whether you have left your abuser or are still considering your options, you probably have questions about how you will manage on your own. The chapters that follow offer suggestions for:

  • Finding a place to live 
  • Working
  • Budgeting your money 
  • Taking charge of the divorce 
  • Thinking ahead to the future 

Finding A Place To Live 

If you were able to plan your exit from the abusive relationship, you may have the money you need to rent an apartment right away. But if you left suddenly, you may need to consider other alternatives, at least for a week. This chapter looks at the housing options available to you. 

Domestic Violence Programs 

One of the best places to start your search for housing is at your local Mahila Aayog program. Some programs operate shelters where battered women and their children can stay at no charge for a month or two. If the program does not have a shelter, it may put you in touch with a network of private homes where you can take refuge. Or, the program can refer you to other organizations that can provide housing assistance. 

When you get in touch with a domestic violence program, you may also receive free counseling, assistance in finding a job, legal advice, and even day-care help for your children. Look into the emergency contacts added into your SIM, ask your local librarian, or call the hotlines for each state: link. 


You can always go to a hotel if you need a quick escape. Try to set aside enough cash for two or three days’ stay in a hotel, or use a credit card that you have in your own name to pay for a room. Park your car/vehicle where your abuser won’t see it. When you get to a hotel or other safe place, call your local domestic violence program for advice on what to do next. 

Subsidized Housing

PMAY (Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana - Urban) offers high home loan interest subsidies if you are looking to buy a house for yourself and your children. You can also reach out to more organizations from this list YourStory.

One drawback of subsidized housing, however, is that there may be a long waiting list, and you may have to go through several agencies to get the amount of help you need. Get your name on these lists as quickly as possible, and let them know your case is urgent because you are a victim of domestic violence. Keep checking back to see if you can get your name to move to the top of the list. 

Renting an Apartment

 When you are traumatized about leaving home, it can be difficult to hunt for an apartment. Here are some ideas that may help : 

  • If the housing market is tight in your area, it may take time to find an apartment you can afford. Don’t get discouraged or take it personally if you call about an apartment and find out that it’s already rented. Make it your goal to read the newspaper ads first thing in the morning, so you will be the first to call on any new apartments you see listed. If you have a car, drive through neighborhoods you can afford. Some landlords put “For Rent” signs in the front and never advertise in the paper. 
  • If the landlord wants to know your last address, explain your situation and the reason why you must protect your privacy. Ask the landlord if you can provide other references that will not be tracked back to your abuser. If you are working through a domestic violence program, ask them to help you explain your situation to the landlord. 
  • If the landlord turns you down, don’t take it personally. Some people fear to get involved in domestic violence situations. The landlord is not rejecting you, just the potential of a problem. The next landlord you talk to maybe much more sympathetic. 
  • You may be asked for a damage deposit upfront. If you have not been able to set aside enough money, now is the time to ask your family or friends for a loan. Or, if you have a job - talk to your company about a possible advance on your salary. 
  • Consider getting a roommate to help share expenses. You might meet someone you can room with at your domestic violence program. Or, you can advertise for a roommate on social media you trust. Either way, be sure you both agree on the expectations for paying the rent, respecting each others’ privacy, and sharing housekeeping chores. 

This decision should not be made lightly. Make sure your roommate is someone you can live with. You do not want to enter another difficult relationship. 

  • When you move into the apartment take a few safety precautions. Park your car where it won’t be noticed by your abuser. Continue to use your office for your post. Make sure your telephone number is unlisted and that your employer and your children’s school will keep your address and telephone number confidential. Consider a code word that only you and they know. Set your SIM so that the number doesn’t show up on caller ID. If possible, avoid using your apartment address on your driver’s license. 

WORKSHEET: My Housing Plan 

  1. I will stay temporarily at _____

It will cost _____ 

  1. I will apply for housing assistance at : ___________
  2. I can afford to pay INR ____ for an apartment, including WiFi and utilities. 

Getting A Job

Having a steady source of income can make the difference between establishing your economic independence and being tempted to return to your abuser. This chapter looks at ways to upgrade your job if you already have one, find a job if you haven’t worked for a while, and stay safe from your abuser while you are at work. 

Job Openings

Learn about job openings through : 

  • Help-wanted signs 
  • Job ads in the newspaper 
  • People who work in a place where you would like to work. 
  • Family or friends who hear about jobs you can do
  • Job placement centers run by the government or NGOs.
  • Private employment agencies 
  • Career counseling offices of colleges 
  • Online communities (like Jobs For Women by SHEROES, MARS, etc) 

If You Have a Job

If you already have a job, you will at least have a source of income when you leave your abuser. The challenge is to make your income cover your new expenses. If it doesn’t, you will face some difficult decisions. You may have to look for a less expensive apartment, find a roommate, or take a second job until you get back on your feet. You may have to apply for temporary relief from loans from the bank. Don’t be embarrassed to get the assistance you need. These programs were established to help those in need. 

If you have missed work because of problems related to your abusive situation and you are worried that your job is in jeopardy, talk to your employer about the situation. 

Or contact your local domestic violence program for assistance. A domestic violence advocate may be able to help you explain your situation to your employer and request special consideration. 

You, or perhaps a domestic violence advocate, also should talk to the employer about workplace policies that will keep you safe from your abuser, while you are on the job. Here are some safety issues to discuss with your employer. 

  • Request that the abuser not be allowed to enter the premises or approach you on the job. Provide photos of the abuser, so your employer security and receptionist can recognize him. If you have an injunction (restraining order), give a copy of it to the employer as well. 
  • Ask the receptionist to screen all calls and visitors. Do not accept packages you didn’t order or don’t recognize. 
  • Park in a secured area, if possible, or where there is adequate lighting. Leave the building with others or ask someone to escort you to your car. If your name is on a reserved space, have it removed. 
  • If a security guard is on-site, be sure he or she is aware of your situation and has information about the abuser. 

If can be difficult or embarrassing to talk about these things, but it is vital for your safety. Chances are, even in a small company, someone else has had a problem with domestic violence. People often are more understanding than you might think. 

Tip: Upgrading Your Job

If you need to make more money (and who doesn’t!), here are some things to try : 

  • Tell your boss you need to earn more money and ask what you can do. The boss might give you a raise or overtime hours, or consider you for a promotion. 
  • If you need additional skills to earn more pay, ask if the company will help pay for your training. Or, sign up for a free or low-cost class at a local college. Research other financial assistance programs that will help pay for job training. Make sure your boss knows what you are doing to improve your skills. 
  • Look for a new job. If you get a better offer but want to stay in your current job, tell your boss about the offer. The boss might match the salary to keep you, but be prepared to take the other offer if not. At the very least, the fact that you received a good offer will boost your confidence. 

If You Don’t Have a Job 

If you haven’t worked outside of the home for several years, finding a job will be one of your first priorities when you leave an abusive relationship. Start by contacting your local domestic violence program. They may provide job counseling, help you write a resume, and assist you in finding affordable child care. They also can guide you to temporary sources of assistance while you are job hunting. 

Here are some other suggestions:

  • Make a list of your skills. Use phrases like : 
    • “I know” (accounting, child care, computer programs, English, etc) 
    • “ I am” (organized, flexible, hard-working)
    • “ I can” (plan, repair, supervise) 
  • Think about the skills you have learned in raising a family, managing a household, or volunteering. Write down how you would describe these skills in ways that related to a paying job. 
  • Write a one or two-page resume. Emphasize the skills and accomplishments that relate to the job you are seeking. Avoid calling attention to your age or to gaps in your work history. 
  • To brush up on your job skills, you may need to go back to school. Often, you can get the training you need by taking evening classes at a local college or a vocational education program. Or, you might look into distance learning opportunities. Ask potential employers if they provide on-the-job training or help pay for classes. 
  • Financial aid also is available to returning students like you. Talk to the financial aid office at your local university to find out what kind of grants, scholarships, and student loans might be available. 
  • Buy a notebook and keep a log of your job hunting activities. Write down the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of companies you contacted about jobs, who you talked to and when, and the results. Tape business cards and job ads in the notebook. Using a job notebook will help you stay on track when you are anxious and stressed out about finding work.  

The Interview

The job interview is an opportunity for the employer and you to ask questions and learn more about each other. For example, you might want to ask what kind of job training is available, what opportunities for promotions exist, and what it will take to be successful on the job. You also will want to ask about the salary, benefits and working conditions. But save these questions for the end of the interview. 

To feel more confident going into the interview, anticipate questions you might be asked and rehearse how you will answer them. Here are some common questions : 

  • Can you tell me about yourself? 
  • Why do you want this job? 
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses? 
  • Do you prefer working with people or by yourself? 
  • What’s the worst mistake you have made on the job? What did you do to fix it? 
  • Why should I hire you? 

Answer all questions honestly. You may not be ready to tell the interviewer about your domestic abuse situation right now. But if a question comes up that you cannot answer honestly without explaining your situation, it’s better to be forthcoming than to hide the truth. Most employers look at each person individually and will take into account your special circumstances. 

During the first week after you are hired, ask the employer if the company has a safety plan in place for domestic violence situations. If not, offer to provide one. Ask your local domestic violence program if it has a workplace safety plan you can share with the employer. 

Evaluating Employee Benefits

Before you accept a job offer, make sure you understand what benefits are provided and who pays for them. Ask about health and other insurance, vacation, sick days, personal days, child care, educational benefits, employee assistance programs, and retirement plans. These benefits often can be worth thousands of rupees per month, so take advantage of them. 

Worksheet: My Job Hunting Plan 

  1. I can do the following jobs : 
  2. I need more training in  : 
  3. I can get this training at _____ for the following cost ____ 
  4. I have written a resume Yes No 
  5. I have started my job notebook Yes No 
  6. Three people who would give me a good reference are (include names, addresses and telephone numbers ) 
    1. Person 1 
    2. Person 2 
    3. Person 3 

Seven Steps to Good Credit 

  1. Pay basic expenses, such as rent and utilities on time 
  2. Make loan payments on time 
  3. If you can’t pay on time, telephone the creditor and explain the problem. Do not ignore the payment. 
  4. Pay loans before you spend money on other purchases. 
  5. Only apply for the credit you need. If you apply too often, lenders may be concerned that you are using too much credit. 
  6. Do not bounce cheques. 
  7. Use a credit card to establish good credit by paying it off every month, or at least by keeping the balance very low. 

Managing Your Money 

These are real concerns, but think of it this way: You are trading the uncertainty of living with someone who can explode without warning for the uncertainty of how you will manage your money and make ends meet. But managing your money is something you can take control of. Your standard of living may drop for a while, but your energy level will soar once you are freed from the exhaustion of coping with an abuser. You probably will be amazed at what you can do! 

Developing the money management skills suggested in this chapter will reduce your economic insecurity and bolster your confidence that you can make it on your own. 

Getting Organized 

Start by getting organized. Most financial documents can be kept at home. Buy an inexpensive file box and separate your records into file folders. Or, keep your labeled file folders in a cardboard box or a desk drawer. If your abuser destroyed your documents, contact your local domestic violence program for assistance in getting them replaced. 

Here’s one way to label your files : 

  • Bill Payments: File loan agreements and payment records for items like car loans, mortgage, credit card payments, medical bills, and so on. 
  • Savings Account: Canceled cheques and monthly statements go here. 
  • Insurance: File your car, medical, life, disability, home/renters insurance policies here. If you receive any amendments to your policy, keep those too. 
  • Receipts and Warranties: Keep this information for major purchases, such as computers or appliances. 
  • Savings and Investments: Keep quarterly and end-of-the-year statements from your savings and investment accounts in this file. 
  • Taxes: Use this file for 12A, B forms, salary slips, copies of past ITRs, and proof of tax deductions. 

Documents that would be difficult to replace (such as wills, house deeds, car titles, birth certificates, PAN, Divorce decree, any employment history records, etc) should be stored in a locker at a bank, or in a fire-resistant VOC at home. 

Keep Your Money Safe 

If you haven’t set up your own salary and savings account, now is the time to do it. To protect your privacy, use your office address or parent's address as your banking address. Use the same address on your driver’s license. 

Before you open a checking account, shop around to find one that has low or no fees, is conveniently located, and perhaps even pays interest if you keep a certain balance in the account. Compare how much different banks or credit unions charge for monthly service fees, ordering new cheques, and so on. If at all possible, choose a financial institution that your abuser does not use. 

Then, make sure you keep track of how much money is in your savings account so you don’t write a cheque for more than is there. If the cheque “bounces” the bank will charge you a fee, the business to whom you wrote the cheque will charge you a fee and the bounced cheque may show on your credit report. 

Saving for an Emergency - and More 

One of the best money management habits you can have is to “pay yourself first”. Put some money in your savings account every month, even if it’s only a small amount. 

The first priority for this saving should be an emergency fund. The money in this fund will pay for living expenses if you are laid off from a job or if you get a big bill such as an unexpected medical bill. 

Here are some ideas for starting and building an emergency fund : 

  • Put 1000 to 2000 from each paycheck into your savings before you pay your other bills 
  • Put 10 a day plus your loose change in a cup. By the end of the month, you may have 500 or more. Deposit the money in your savings account. 
  • Put tax refunds, job bonuses, overtime pay, or raises into the emergency fund. 
  • Keep your emergency fund where you can get to it easily - in a bank savings account or a money market fund that earns interest. 

When you reach your emergency fund goal (three months income is a recommended amount), start new savings account for things like furniture or a vacation. Or, consider investing money in mutual funds for long-term goals such as a house or your retirement. Now that you are in the savings habit, stay with it! 

A note about savings accounts: Bank savings accounts are very safe, but they typically pay a low-interest rate. Don’t get discouraged if your money grows slowly. When you feel ready, you can explore other options for investing your money. But starting a savings account now, no matter how small, makes a statement that you believe you have a future and that you are going to control that future. 

Spend Smart 

Earning and saving money is just one side of the money management coin. Just as important is how you spend the money you have. 

Here are 10 ways to stretch every dollar : 

  1. Buy only what you need. Before you buy something, ask yourself: “ Do I need this? Or do I just want it ?” You’ll be surprised how many things fall under the “want” category. 
  2. Save money to buy things instead of taking out a loan or using a credit card. 
  3. Cut out costly habits like smoking cigarettes or buying lottery tickets. 
  4. Shop at local stores. Avoid malls. 
  5. Make a grocery list and stick to it. Only take cash to the store, not a credit card. Use coupons if they provide a better value than store brands or sale items. 
  6. Eat at home. Take your lunch to work. 
  7. Carpool or use public transportation. 
  8. Compare prices at three places before buying. 
  9. Avoid costly cheque-cashing stores and gold pawn shops. 
  10. Trade babysitting with neighbors, friends, and relatives. 

Use a Spending Plan 

A good way to keep track of your income and expenses is to use a spending plan. Some people call it a budget. Think of a spending plan as your financial roadmap. It helps you know exactly how much money you have coming in, where you must spend it, and where you might be able to save a few hundred rupees. Creating a spending plan will give you a sense of control over your money. 

Take Control of Credit and Debt 

A fundamental step in rebuilding your financial life is building or rebuilding good credit history. Good credit means that you make your loan payments on time and you repay your debts as promised. A good credit record will enable you to take out a larger loan later if you want to buy a car or house or start a business. 

Tips on consolidating debt 

With a stable income source, one can consider consolidating debts and rolling all bills into a single monthly payment with the purpose of managing multiple debts more efficiently. It means taking out a new loan to pay off a number of liabilities and consumer debts, generally unsecured ones. By consolidating debt, one can-

  1. Repay the outstanding balances at a relatively lower rate of interest.
  2. In single monthly payments in place of multiple installments at different ROI. In effect, multiple debts are combined into a single, larger piece of debt, usually with more favorable payoff terms. Favorable payoff terms include a lower interest rate, lower monthly payment, or both. 

Check- It is beneficial only when the final consolidated debt has a lower monthly payment or interest rate or both. 



Efficient repayment in single installment, relatively less amount. 

Difficult to obtain a consolidation loan if the credit score is not good. 

Lower interest rate.

Overspending may happen. 

May help in improving credit score, a number of default in repayments would be less.

Lengthy repayment period so you repay the same amount for a longer duration.


Longer repayment period=more interest paid

Protect What You Have: Insurance 

Insurance is a necessary part of life because it protects against major financial losses. Here’s a quick look at some of the insurance coverage you should consider : 

  • Health insurance pays for some if not all, of your doctor and hospital bills. Find out if your employer has health insurance coverage. Expect to pay part of the premium (the cost of the policy) out of your paycheck. If you are still married, ask a lawyer if you can require your husband to keep you and the children on his policy. After the divorce, the children will continue to qualify for coverage under their fathers’ plan, but make sure he will keep them on it. 
  • Life insurance pays money to a person you choose (your beneficiary) in case you die. Life insurance is a good idea when you have children or other people who depend on your income. Term life insurance offers good protection at a lower payment than whole life/cash value insurance. 
  • Car/Vehicle insurance is required by law in India. Check into the differences between liability and physical damage coverage. You can save money on your car premiums by taking a higher deductible. Here is another example where your emergency fund gives you peace of mind and can actually save you money by helping you afford to take higher deductibles. 
  • Homeowners insurance reimburses you for your loss if your home or possessions are damaged or stolen, or if someone is injured on your property. 

When you buy insurance, shop around just as you would for any product. Compare costs among at least three companies. Ask how raising the deductible will save on premiums. With some types of insurance, such as vehicle insurance, it may make sense to review your coverage and cost every year. With life and health insurance, shopping around yearly is not feasible since you must qualify physically to obtain these policies. Keep in mind that some companies will refuse coverage if you change too often. 

Worksheet: My Money Management Plan 

  1. I have a file for my documents Yes No 
  2. I have a fixed deposit/savings account at : 
  3. I have a salary account at 
  4. I will save _____ every month 
  5. I have a spending plan/budget Yes  No 
  6. I will cut spending by doing the following: _____ 
  7. I will get my debt under control by doing the following: ____ 
  8. I have the following insurance coverages: ____ 

Divorce and Other Legal Considerations 

Taking charge of the legal aspects of an abusive relationship may be the last thing on your mind when you are simply trying to survive. This chapter will help you get a handle on some of the legal issues you may face and how to use the legal system to get what you need and deserve: protection from harm, and your fair share of the assets accumulated during the relationship. 

Getting Legal Help

To protect your legal rights, get competent advice. If possible, talk to a lawyer before you leave the relationship or mention to your abuser that you may want a divorce. The lawyer can tell you how to protect yourself and your property before your abuser has a chance to react. 

If you do not have a lawyer or don’t think you can afford one, call your local domestic violence program. These programs can put you in touch with legal aid or other low-cost legal assistance services. Again, try to make this call before your abuser knows everything. If he meets with a lawyer or a legal aid group first, that lawyer can no longer represent you even if your abuser decides not to hire him or her. 

Even if you don’t plan to file for a divorce, go in for a consultation so you know your rights. Pay with cash, so there’s no paper trail back to your abuser. Feel free to take a friend along for moral support. But, be aware that if your friend is present when you meet with your lawyer, this will break the lawyer-client confidentiality. 

Choosing A Lawyer

Finding a lawyer or legal advocate you feel comfortable with is one of the most important steps you can take in freeing yourself from an abusive relationship. The lawyer will guide you through the maze of property rights, custody decisions, and divorce issues. This is especially important if you are traumatized by your situation and tempted to give in to the abusers’ demands. A good lawyer will not let that happen! 

Talk to several lawyers until you find one who will work with you, but not tell you what to do. You have already been in one controlling relationship. You don’t need another one! 

Here are a few questions to ask before you hire a lawyer : 

  1. Have you or any members of your firm ever represented my partner/spouse or anyone associated with him? 
  2. Do you handle divorce or custody cases? 
  3. Do you have experience with domestic violence cases? Which party did you represent (the victim, the abuser, or the children)? 
  4. In general, how do you approach custody issues in cases of domestic violence? 
  5. Will you handle my case yourself, or will you pass it on to an associate? 
  6. How will you involve me in the process? 
  7. What do you estimate my case will cost in lawyer fees? 
  8. Do you ever charge less for people who do not have much money? Are you willing to work out a payment plan with me? 
  9. Are there ways I can assist you to keep my costs down? 

Property and Other Assets 

In general, you have legal rights to property and other assets accumulated during the relationship even if they are held in the abusers’ name alone. Your lawyer can advise you about your rights. 

If you leave the relationship, the lawyer may be able to freeze all assets so that no one can hide or spend them while a separation or divorce agreement is being worked out. The lawyer can also advise you about debts you both may be liable for and how to prevent your partner from running up more debt while you are going through a divorce. 

In addition, you can ask the lawyer to go to court at the beginning of the divorce case to ask for temporary lawyer’s fees as well as property appraisal and temporary support for you and your children. 


A lawyer, domestic violence program, or city courts can help you understand the ramifications of an injunction. Although much has been written about injunctions that failed to protect women, in general, they are helpful. 

If you have an injunction against your abuser, carry it with you at all times. Make copies for your employer, your child’s daycare or school, and other necessary locations. Any time there is a violation, keep a record of the incident for yourself and report it to the local police station. This will make it easier to arrest and prosecute the offender. 

Divorce and Child Support 

Going through a divorce is stressful for anyone, but it can be especially difficult for a woman who has been battered. Stay strong, so you can get a fair settlement. Your future financial security depends on it. 

You may decide to handle the divorce on your own (called pro se) to save legal costs. Be careful. Make sure you will not give in to unreasonable demands from your abuser, or allow him to control the outcome of the divorce just as he has tried to control everything else in your relationship. If you must go this route, ask your local domestic violence program for information and support. 

If at all possible, hire a lawyer or use the services of a legal advocate to represent you in divorce proceedings. They will provide you with sound legal advice, but here are a few things to consider:

  • Although mediation works in uncontested divorces where the parties can be civil, it is not recommended in domestic abuse cases. The abuser may use mediation as another way to intimidate the woman. If your lawyer wants to use mediation, ask why. Only proceed if you feel confident that you can reach a favorable settlement. 
  • Similarly, joint custody of children is not recommended in cases of domestic violence. The less contact you have with your abuser after the divorce, the better. Joint custody arrangements require dealing with the ex-spouse on a regular basis. Most experts recommend sole custody of the children by the non-abusive parent with visitation rights for the abuser if ordered by the judge. Work through your lawyer to require supervised visitation for the abuser. 
  • Provide your lawyer with copies of all financial and property records. The more information you can provide, the less digging the lawyer will have to do and the less his or her time will cost you. 
  • Don’t forget assets like your spouse’s retirement plan, business interest, or a valuable collection. 
  • If you are awarded maintenance or alimony, ask for it in a lump sum. Too often, abusers do not make these payments regularly and the legal process is slow to recover them. Also, ask that the abuser provide a life insurance policy naming you as an irrevocable beneficiary to cover his obligations. 
  • If the court orders the abuser to take care of debts that you are both responsible for, ask that the payment goes to you so you can pay your creditors. Otherwise, the abuser may refuse to pay the debts, if for no other reason than to damage your credit rating. 
  • Tie child support payments or other monetary settlements to a percentage of the abuser’s income, rather than a flat amount. That way, if he gets a raise or a better job in the future, you and the children will benefit. Find you if his obligation for child support can be extended through the kid’s college years. 
  • Remember, even if your husband declares bankruptcy, he is still obligated to pay child support. 
  • If you earn more than your husband you may be liable for maintenance or a property settlement. Dead-beat husbands can be expensive. 
  • The divorce decree can include an injunction that orders the former spouse to stay away. This statement in the final divorce decree can provide a powerful sense of closure. 
  • Walking through divorce litigation can be very empowering. Remember, divorce is not the end of your life, but the beginning of a new one. 

Worksheet: My Legal Plan 

  1. My lawyer is  _____ 
  2. I plan to take the following legal actions by (include dates) : 



Looking Toward the Future 

Women in abusive relationships often are unable to think beyond surviving one day at a time. Making plans for the future can seem impossible. 

By reading this guide, you have started to think about a future that is free of abuse. Admitting to yourself that there’s a problem is the first step on the road to healing. Telling the truth out loud is even better. 

Of course, starting over can be difficult, even frightening. But it also can be exhilarating. The more you learn and try for yourself, the more confidence you’ll gain in your ability to be independent. 

Start thinking about the future you would like to have. Write down your goals and dreams. Putting them on paper makes them become more real. 

Congratulations on beginning your new life! 

My goals and dreams:

  1. This is how I see myself a year from now: _____
  2. This is how I see myself five years from now: ______ 
  3. These are my dreams and goals for the future: _______ 

Shakun Vijay
A focused counselling professional with 4 years of experience in the areas of individual, family, relationship, work life conflict , student, child behaviour problems, career counselling etc. A patient listener without an attitude of judging people with intent to help them process their thoughts and let out their pent up feelings and emotions. Also a keen communicator and an extrovert personality, who loves to read & write fiction, party hard and is a big foodie.

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