I have a few current victims that I am assisting and lately, there has been a lot of fear of “Can I do this all by myself???” One of the top five reasons people stay in abusive relationships, is simply because they do not know how they’re going to make it financially. I totally get this, as I was once there. Still hustling, but I’m DOING IT! But my advice is simply this: YES! Whichever way you can! It’s the real-life Hunger Games, baby. No holds barred!!!

Of course, everything that I am talking about here is legal. I do not condone stealing or illegal/illicit behavior. Not what I’m talking about AT. ALL. All of this I have done myself, so I definitely know. I never recommend that which I haven’t done myself.

First, go to your state unemployment office (make an appointment, thanks to COVID). They’ll sit down with you, get you to input a current resume, make you take tests on a computer to see what you know, and rake through your education and any needs in that realm. Pack a lunch, it’s going to be a while. Take advantage of what they have to offer. Look on their website for job listings, look in your local newspaper’s listings, and on a few job websites like SnagaJob.com and Indeed.com (just to name a few). Look at the jobs on Facebook, for your local area. Setup a LinkedIn account and peruse those jobs too. Already on LinkedIn? Update it ASAP! Don’t discount working for temporary agencies either. Already have a full-time job? You may have to get an additional part-time gig. I delivered pizzas locally, when not working and taking all the overtime I could get. Don’t judge! If you can’t find a job, clean houses on the side or sell vintage things on FB Marketplace or eBay. I’ve made a side income selling textbooks and Bibles — not even joking…

Unemployment bears mentioning due to the fact that abusers are champions at making you lose your job or have to resign/put in your notice. You may be eligible and need to find out. This is also something the unemployment office will screen you for. Closed mouths don’t get jobs…or fed…

Perhaps your abuser kept you as a “stay-at-home” because they could control you better, but you may have a dibillitating condition or handicap? See if you qualify for Social Security Disability? Retirement age? See what you could draw off of yourself and/or your spouse(s). There’s earnings limits, but you can have a part-time job with these as well. Call SSA and find out! It’s worth a phone call! Your children may be disabled or may qualify to draw off of you or a disabled parent, if not already. Some abusive partners who are on disability deliberately either not report their children, or keep their benefits as a secret from their spouses. Why? Well, for control purposes. They’re not centered on their children’s well-being, only on controlling their families.

There is child support. If the abuser is working, they have to help pay. I realize you probably saw this and rolled your eyes. (Insert *eye roll* here). I understand. My Ex didn’t pay much either. Deliberately had no job to avoid it and worked under the table for cash. SMH. Still, you need to make friends with the local Child Support Office, which can most likely be found inside the county’s prosecutor’s office. Court can set it based on what both parents make and how the child custody is awarded. It is always worth checking out. Garnishments can be possible for employment-based pay and any IRS refunds and some SSA backpay. Don’t discount it!

I’ve also turned to taking my kids and I’s clothes to the consignment stores to trade for credit, so I could keep them and I in clothing items. I’ve been known to sell off things I don’t need either by yard sale, eBay, or social media. Don’t judge, but I found special editions of Bibles, free at thrift stores, only to sell them on social media. I was blasted for that, but my kiddos have to eat! WWJD? Well the Lord gave me good sense, so I try to use it as much as possible. I’ve even been known to rifle through the recycle box at the post office, for coupons that come in the junk mail on Wednesdays. True story!

Applying for low-income state benefits may be needed, temporarily. These can include, but not be limited to: food stamps, utility assistance, rental assistance, government housing, school lunch and book fees…the list can go on and on, based on state. Not sure where to start? Call 2-1-1 and they can assist you based on the state and county in which you live. It is an under utilized resource funded by the United Way and offered things that I hadn’t thought of. In case of emergency things that come up like, for instance, a temporary work stoppage, can be devastating when you live paycheck-to-paycheck. Some churches and community social organizations might be able to help with a water bill or electricity payment, usually only once per year. County and town trustees can be invaluable with this or paying a month’s worth of rent, too.

Lastly, let me touch on food pantries. Look, food stamps and paychecks only go so far…sometimes, you have to supplement your family’s groceries with going to a food pantry. I’ve had to stand in line too. I was humiliated at first, only because I thought I’d be taking away from someone else’s family. Truth is, there is still A LOT of food that food pantries have to throw away. Also, my DV Advocate said, “Look, it’s not about your pride…it about feeding your kiddos. Go and do it!” She was and is right! Don’t hesitate. Whether you do it once or multiple times. You have to take care of you and yours. Also, I discovered that some places have pet food pantries. If you have doggies and kitties, they need to eat too!

If you’re currently in “survival mode,” switch it into “beast mode” and own your current situation. Also, repeat to yourself, “This is not permanent!” Stay safe!