Unfortunately, I have been through a lot.
Those who I thought were my friends and family were apathetic.
Perhaps getting this “out there” in some way will help me and others.
After 23 years of marriage, I went through a very difficult divorce. Before leaving the marriage, my “ex” had signed second, third and fourth mortgages on our marital home. At that time, he said he needed the funds for his law practice. He drained the equity from the home, which soon had no value. Therefore, I received none of the proceeds from the sale of the marital home. My home and its furnishings were confiscated and sold. I was forced to move to a modest one-bedroom apartment, while my “ex” lived in an upscale home. He was an attorney and he knew how to manipulate the legal system. I had to fight in the courts for years to be awarded alimony using a state appointed attorney. This attorney wasn’t being paid on the scale as a private attorney and therefore he didn’t want to put much effort into the case. After a few years, the alimony award was taken from me, even though I had two children to support. He fought over the alimony in court, because I shared an apartment with a friend. I hadn’t remarried. Even if I had remarried, I should have been entitled to alimony. He knew the judges. He knew the system. At that time the courts were notoriously unscrupulous.
During our marriage, I thought I should resume my teaching career. My husband discouraged me. He said that he was doing well and that I should be a homemaker. Ultimately, when he left our family, he also left me bereft of a way to survive financially.
In order to get back into teaching, I would have had to take a number of refresher courses and at that time, I was unable to afford it. After a few years, I found a job and started socializing again. I wasn’t ready to make a commitment. I was still in shock over the horrors I endured during my divorce.
After a few years, I met Doug. He seemed like a decent guy. I noticed that he was extremely frugal. But I didn’t realize the consequences.
Doug was a CPA. I depended on him to help with taxes and finances and more. He decided to buy a luxury high-rise apartment. We moved in together. I hired carpenters to partially renovated the apartment and bought furnishings. Other than paying the mortgage, Doug contributed very little to improve the apartment.
After a few months, my neighbor noticed that Doug’s car was no longer in the garage. It had been repossessed. Clearly, I knew then that he had severe problems.
Much to my dismay, after living in the condo for 15 years, Doug decided to sell it. He also told me he didn’t want me to live in the apartment, while he was in the process of showing and selling it. I was devastated. I pleaded with him to let me stay until he sold the apartment. I hired an attorney hoping that Doug would allow me to stay. Even though I had lived there for 15 years and had participated significantly in sharing the maintenance expenses of the apartment and investing in the renovation of the apartment, the judge decided that since I was not an owner, I had no right to remain in the apartment. Other lawyers I consulted agreed the judge had made a seriously wrong decision. I wasn’t asking for money from the sale of the apartment. All I wanted was to stay in the apartment until it was sold. In the end, He insisted that I leave the apartment and drove me to a sleazy motel annex.
While I was at the motel, I had no access to my life’s belongings. I was there for several months, while Doug remained in the condo. The judge had decreed that I should have access to my belongings, yet Doug wouldn’t allow me to return to the apartment to get them. I was substitute teaching during the time I lived in the motel. I somehow had the strength to do this. My children were both students and there was little they could do to help me. There was no other family.
Ultimately, Doug sold the condo and life became a series of moving from one apartment to another. I wound up moving every two years or so. My instincts were to have a comfortable roof over my head, so I would decorate each apartment and try to create a pleasant place to live. Each time, just as I settled in, I had to move yet again.
After a while, I found a teaching position in an inner-city school district as a permanent substitute. After a three-year probationary period, I was offered a contract. I was ecstatic. I knew this would be my ticket to financial independence. When I returned to school, I was told I could not enter the building and I had to report the Board of Education. There, I was told that I would be terminated, because unemployment funds had been unlawfully taken, while I was on salary at the school district.
Doug admitted that he was responsible for taking my unemployment benefits, while I was teaching. He signed an affidavit to that effect, so that I could teach again. The school district, however, did not entertain this. Clearly this was wrongful termination.
I did not press charges against Doug because he would have been incarcerated and lost his CPA license. Had this occurred it would have left me in a precarious financial situation. I did not have the means to live independently.
Afterwards, Doug sold the apartment and found a rental. Eventually he brought my life’s possessions to the new apartment. I was sure that most of my belongings were lost. We stayed in the apartment for a short time. It was small and cramped and we lived out of our suitcases. Soon afterwards, he found another apartment and we settled in for a little over two years. As always, I contributed to the expenses of the apartment with limited funds.
After I lost my teaching contract, I worked as a sub in several difficult school systems. Though I was not a special ed teacher, I was assigned to special ed classes, nevertheless. This created extraordinary stress. I was hospitalized and very weak during this period. After the two-year lease was up, I had to move again. Around that time, Doug’s parents passed away. He inherited a condo in Florida and a Trust Fund. He seemed to be more than financially secure.
In the middle of this horrific unstable lifestyle, my beloved daughter passed away. This was beyond unimaginable. I was in shock and numb and unable to function for quite some time. During the week of mourning for my daughter, Doug showed no sympathy or empathy, even though he often referred to my daughter as “the best friend he ever had in his life.” Actually, on the third day of the “shiva” (period of mourning), Doug left me alone in the apartment and instead spent the day at an insignificant once-a-week job. During that time, I depended on Doug to handle my financial matters. I was still in a state of shock. He stealthily took a significant amount of money from the 401K that was left to me by my daughter. He also forged checks, made unauthorized withdrawals from my accounts to pay for most of his expenses. I discovered new credit cards in my name without authorization. He ruined my credit rating. He changed the beneficiary on my accounts from my son’s name to his name. I had to change my bank accounts time and again. Yet again, I was fearful of going to court to press charges, because I did not have the financial stability to live on my own.
In the next apartment, Doug insisted that I had to pay half the rent. After a few months, Doug informed me that there was a judgement, because he had “forgotten” to pay his share of the rent. I was fearful of having to move again, so I hired a lawyer to vacate the judgement. The lawyers I consulted with encouraged me not to pay the past rent, because eventually I would have to move anyway. The judgement was vacated and I paid the past rent. Doug signed an agreement that he would pay me back for half the rent that he owed me. To this day he has never paid me back. In the next apartment, I paid most of the rent and most of his expenses. Even though I tried to be more than careful, he managed to find my bank account numbers and dip into my accounts to pay for his expenses.
During my life with Doug, I endured extraordinary mental cruelty and endless verbal abuse. As a senior, post-retirement, with limited funds, a place to live is of utmost importance to me. Unfortunately, similar situations happen more often than they should. Due to financial constraints, many are unable to leave abusive relationships. There are times when a person feels trapped without the financial ability to survive independently. There is no easy way out.