Financial exploitation is a real problem, and we often don’t discuss its implications. The economic setbacks of financial exploitation prevent many of us from living fuller, more enriching lives. Here are 5 signs that you’re being financially exploited. This list is designed to galvanize much-needed discussions, however, it is not exhaustive.
1. Your Life Feels like Damage Control
Are you always the person responsible for putting out fires? Do people assume you’ll be the one to fix the problem? Then, you’re most likely being financially exploited. When your life is burdened by damage control, it’s harder to save money. It is oppressive to spend our time, energy and investment alleviating someone else’s turmoil. Our lives are not meant to be damage control. This is just one of patriarchy’s many schemes. Wake up!
2. You Turn Down Opportunities, Jobs, Fellowships, etc.
Do you find yourself turning down exciting opportunities like moving to a new city, buying a car or going on that dream vacation because of your obligations? Whenever we allow financial exploitation to hold us back, we deprive ourselves of new adventures, career growth, and stability. And in the process, we are neglecting ourselves. I can attest to this experience firsthand. Financial exploitation prevents us from embarking on a life of our own choosing by indebting us with obligations and responsibilities that are not our own.
3. You Find it Impossible to Save Money
Not being able to save money is a huge indicator of financial exploitation. If you’re unable to save money, it’s probably because you’re enabling others. Financial exploitation has severe economic implications that hurt our chances at moving forward in life. I’ve always thought it was interesting as to why I’m held to a much higher standard. And why is it always one-sided? Financial exploitation has made it nearly impossible to embrace the life I actually wanted.
4. You Feel Obligated because of Guilt
Financial exploitation thrives off of guilt, emotional blackmailing, and manipulation. We are bullied into martyring ourselves with hopes that we will be “rewarded” for it someday. Guilt is a form of emotional abuse. Period. Being financially exploited made it difficult to enforce my boundaries. Financial exploitation undermines our ability to establish and enforce parameters that enable us to live healthier, fulfilling and financially stable lives.
5. You Feel Stuck
Being financially exploited made me feel stuck. Not only was it difficult to save money, but I felt as if I was rewarding irresponsible behavior. I was enabling others to my own detriment. I was depriving myself of a more exciting life because as the eldest daughter, no one expected me to reject a life of hardship. My womanhood will not be defined by how much suffering I can endure. Why should it? I had to learn how to practice self-preservation that would allow me to live carefree.
I hope this blog post incites an overdue discussion about financial exploitation and abuse of Somali women. With so many of us being the breadwinners and primary caregivers, exploitation is rampant. It’s also intergenerational. I look forward to exploring, identifying and challenging the exploitation of women’s labor on GabarIskuFilan.