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How to get Money to Leave an Abusive Relationship

How to get Money to Leave an Abusive Relationship

How do you get enough money to leave an abusive relationship? What financial help is there and how do you access it?

***Trigger warning***

I have personally experienced domestic violence.

This article contains some of my personal experiences along with that of others who have shared with me.

It was originally written in 2016 but has been updated in 2023, with more from me at the end too.

Some of the information is specific to Australia e.g. specific links but the overall tips apply almost anywhere.

It may cause triggers, although I have tried to keep it relatively neutral.

You can find out more about me here.

To be clear, abusive relationships are not limited to physical abuse. Financial, emotional and all forms of abuse are included.

Also, anyone can experience abuse.

It is not limited to heterosexual relationships or a man doing it to a woman. I’ve tried to be gender neutral in this excluding my personal experiences.

My personal experience was in an hetero relationship so the wording in those is specific.

Leaving an abusive relationship is extremely difficult for numerous reasons including personal safety, emotional turmoil and financial issues.

In many abusive relationships, the abusive partner has control of the finances and leaves the abused with no money, no options or worse still, with all bills and debt in their name and no way to get rid of it all.

Disclaimer: I want to make it clear that these are options, not personalised advice for your own situation. These are things you can do, resources that might help and ways to financially help get out of or recover from an abusive relationship.

What you do is your choice and personally, I think if you can, always seek professional help through counsellors, lawyers and financial advisors. Not realistic in most domestic violence cases, I know. I have in this article some advice for that as well.

How to get the money to leave an abusive relationship

Financial Preparations for Leaving an Abusive Relationship

Preparing to leave an abusive relationship is scary and risky.

Along with getting all your important papers together such as birth certificates, bills, bank statements, passports etc, you need to arrange your finances.

It is risky though so you need to be discrete.

The best options in my view are fee-free online only ones where you can deposit at the post office. ING is one and offers a $100 sign-up bonus, Up Bank is another with $14 instantly when you open the account.

Why online accounts?

I recommend online-only accounts as they are easy to set up instantly AND don’t send paperwork, other than the card to your home if you ask.

Meaning, less proof and a lower chance of them finding out.

However, your abuser may have installed spyware to track your movements, so I would be careful doing this.

How to get the money to leave an abusive relationship

*Trigger warning – a specific DV experience in italics below*

One time when I was preparing to leave I opened a private bank account.

I explained my situation to the bank and all statements were to be kept at the bank, not sent to me.

They were never to call me and it was supposed to be completely confidential.

Unfortunately, they rang me and my now ex-husband (we were married at the time) happened to be home.

He was furious and forced me to go and close the bank account.

Because of my experience, I hesitate to suggest it.

Admittedly, this was quite a few years ago and now you can have online-only accounts, bank through the Post Office, set up a separate email address etc and hide it all easier.

If you Have Debt and Bills

There is help out there to assist with debt and bills specifically for those in or trying to leave an abusive relationship.

Organisations are now well aware how severe financial abuse can be and how finances are often used to control people.

Speak with your bank and anyone you owe money to about your options and let them know it is an abusive situation.

There are options available, along with payments to assist in leaving an abusive relationship or after you have left.

Emergency payments from Centrelink and charities, plus financial counsellors to help with your situation.

How to get the money to leave an abusive relationship

Services Available

At a minimum, there is 1800 RESPECT you can call or check out the website.

Centrelink has an estimator where you can put your situation in to find out what is available to you. Each state has extra help available too.

I have a list of free money and vouchers plus where to get them.

When it comes to child support, let them know you are in a DV situation and allowances can be made regarding that but still ensuring you get the full amount from Centrelink.

Check with your bank and others as many have payments and other assistance available.

1. Get Cash out with the Groceries

If you pay by card, ask for an extra $20 out each time you do the groceries then store this cash in a secret place or buy a gift card.

The cash out often doesn’t show on the bank statement, only the total amount and where the purchase was made shows.

Check your bank though, as some list the cashout amount separately to the amount paid for groceries both in apps and on statements.

If your bank does this, it is not safe to withdraw cash like that without your abuser knowing but I have more tips below.

Getting cash out was suggested by a reader and it is a great tip if it is safe with your bank.

Hide the cash somewhere it cannot be found such as a false-bottomed drawer, hollow out a section under your lounge or bed or somewhere else they will never look.

Or if you trust someone, hide the cash at their house along with your important paperwork, some clothes and other items in case you need to leave in a hurry.

Be careful though, if your ex checks receipts or your bank lists purchases separately to cash out, it can cause issues.

How to get the money to leave an abusive relationship

2. Do Cash Jobs

I was a hairdresser by trade when I was leaving, enabling me to do haircuts on the side for cash without him knowing how much I was earning.

I did declare my income on my taxes and obeyed all regulations but didn’t tell him.

Look at ways you might be able to earn cash such as cleaning, gardening, babysitting, ironing, baked goods etc.

Check out 23 ways to make money on the side, 43 ways single mums can make money and 31 ways to make and save $200 or more!

3. Sell Items On Consignment

Do you have anything you can sell on consignment in stores?

You might be able to make beaded jewellery, soaps, candles or other items to stock in stores on consignment and have an arrangement where you collect your payments in cash.

Having cash on hand can make a significant difference when leaving.

If you can save it, hide it and take it with you, they won’t know how much you have and cash gives you some options.

You will still need a bank account to get somewhere to live and set up your life, but at least with cash, you can leave sooner and set these things up as soon as you’re out if needed.

Remember, while you might hope they don’t, many abusers will freeze or empty bank accounts which is why cash is often recommended.

4. Accrue Cash And Points

Join loyalty programs and sign up for online survey sites.

You can accrue cash in all of these and then cash it out when you leave.

It’s a subtle way to make some money on the side and not have it sitting in an account or at home where they might get it.

You can have them as apps on your phone or do them online.

Most people don’t think much of them but you can make a few thousand.

Market research sometimes pays in gift cards you can store as well.

I have a list of online survey sites I have tested here.

Knowledge is Power When it Comes to Domestic Abuse

Learn all you can, in as safe a way as possible.

Use private browsing mode, and clear your search history and cache when you can to protect yourself.

Many abusers monitor all search history and devices.

Another option is to go to a friend’s house or use the library to search for the information you need.

For example, sites such as Women Talk Money have articles and resources to help you with finances in various stages of your life, including abuse.

They also have a quick escape option, as in if you hit escape when on the site it will immediately load Google so if anyone comes in they will not see what you are looking at. This is an excellent safety feature.

1. Know What Help is Available

Women health centres are available in many cities and have community lawyers, counsellors, classes, meditation, naturopaths and other services for free or a minimal cost.

The assistance of community legal aid can prove to be extremely valuable when you are trying to leave.

It is not the same as having a lawyer on call for everything but they can help you plan things out and give advice to assist you in leaving or after you have left.

Some help includes free legal advice, free counselling, 10 free psychological visits on a mental health plan, parenting payment (if you are a parent), along with rent assistance and advance payments to assist with leaving an abusive relationship.

There are social workers, no interest loans, free food, bills paid and other financial assistance are all available to victims of domestic violence or anyone facing financial hardship.

Health centres, community legal centres, churches, charities and not for profits all provide different services.

Most of the time it is simply a matter of asking, outlining your situation and accepting the help offered.

Speak with the police to get connected to the right services as well. Be careful when you do though.

Also, check with your bank. Many offer a payment for those leaving abusive situations.

How to get the money to leave an abusive relationship

2. Find out the Documents you Will Need to Access Assistance

If you haven’t left yet, find out what documentation will make it easier.

For example, are you going to be eligible for payments from Centrelink and if so, what will you need to prove what has happened, how much you earn etc?

Get them together in one place so you can take them with you or store them somewhere else.

Also, scan and upload copies to a dropbox file.

While they are not the same as the originals, it will have all the information you need and some places will accept those files.

3. Get Advice ASAP

Talk to a lawyer, know your rights and what assistance is available to you.

Keep documentation of everything, and report abuse to the police. You can make reports without pressing charges so things are documents.

Police can also collect and keep all evidence for you without pressing charges e.g. messages on you phone, recordings etc.

They know it can be scary pressing charges and they also know these things can easily get lost or deleted so there is that capacity to have it all there before taking further action.

Speaking with police can be scary, they are there to help but I completely understand not wanting to go. If you do it, there are specific officers for this and make sure you are safe when you do it.

If there are witnesses get them to provide statements as well and document what they can.

Do everything you can to protect yourself and your children if you have them.

Claims for Financial Assistance for Domestic Violence Victims

Most states have a service that is a financial payment for victims of violent crimes, which domestic violence falls under.

The assistance varies from state to state but can include a payment to you based on the crime, financial assistance for counselling, financial assistance for moving or costs involved with your safety and other costs that can be directly attributed to the crime.

Each type of assistance has a value attached to it and you do not have to claim immediately.

There is assistance to help you fill out the necessary paperwork, be prepared though as it can be traumatic going through the process.

In Australia, Centrelink is a safety net to help financially.

Last year they had 22 million unanswered calls. Be prepared for that.

I share tips on how to deal with Centrelink and making life possible on it here.

It is best if you arm yourself with as much knowledge as possible before talking to them.

Most things can be lodged or done online and this will speed up the process a little.

Check out how to survive on Centrelink for loads of tips.

To give you an idea, some of the payments you may be entitled to, depending on your circumstances include:
– Immediate domestic violence payment
– Parenting payment
– Newstart
– Rent assistance
– Carers payment (if you have children who are traumatised and need extra assistance)
– Family Tax Benefit A and B
– Childcare subsidy

It depends on your circumstances, income, assets, if you have children or not etc.

Once you get it, make sure you use the discounts available for concession card holders such as electricity, medicine and transport.

There is also child support. I strongly recommend you go through the child support agency for this and never rely on it coming it.

I view it as a ‘bonus’ because I know so many parents who don’t get it even though they should as there are too many ways for an ex to get around the system.

At least if you go through the child support agency it is all on record and documented, not just them vs you.

How to get the money to leave an abusive relationship

Be Gentle On Yourself

This situation is not your fault.

You have done the best you could and if you are reading this you either have taken steps to leave or are about to and for that I applaud you.

You are stronger than you can possibly imagine.

Leaving was the hardest thing I have done, terrifying at times and dangerous but I am glad I did it and fortunate to have the life I do now.

I went through hell and wouldn’t wish it on anyone. My life now is better than anything I ever could have imagined.

Be gentle on yourself. Don’t blame yourself.

Allow yourself to cry and feel your emotions.

Allow yourself to get whatever help you need and don’t rush yourself.

This is a slow process. Take it one day at a time.

Also, you aren’t alone. Many have gone through it or are going through it.

You can read about some experiences of others, their regrets and tips for finances and divorce in this post, including some quotes from me.

The Legal Process

When I first wrote this article in 2016, I as still in the legal process of getting custody despite having left in 2012.

I wasn’t granted custody until 2019 and it cost a fortune.

I’ve shared tips on how to afford custody and legal fees on my other site.

I sold off everything I could and did all the odd jobs I was offered or came across.

I looked for ways to increase my income and cut back on everything possible.

In the end, I still had to borrow some money as the final part cost $40,000.

As for winning in court, there are some key things I and others recommend which helped immensely.

How you dress and appear matters, bowing to the crown as you enter and exit the courtroom and other small things like that make a huge difference.

Read all my tips for court to help you win, these have made a difference for many people when in court for custody, protection orders, breaches etc.

How to get the money to leave an abusive relationship

My Current Situation

To give some hope, I left my abusive marriage in 2012.

It wasn’t easy, I got a protection order at the time, my kids and I needed a lot of therapy and other assistance.

Fast forward to now, I got full custody in 2019, along with a 5 year protection order. We have travelled a lot and lived in a variety of places.

Our life is full, happy and beyond anything we could imagine back then.

We live on the beach at the moment, spend a lot of time outside and my teens are excelling in their chosen areas e.g. robotics, wrestling, jobs etc.

I partnered again in 2019, had another baby in 2021 and another in 2022 and we frequently travel to Vanuatu where my stepdaughter and in-laws live

Leaving an abusive marriage was absolutely the right thing.

As hard as it was, our lives and what we have created now were worth it.

While life might seem bleak at the moment, it is worth it to leave an abusive situation when you can do it safely.

You might also like:
43 ways for single mums to make money
23 ways to save money in 2023
23 ways to make money in 2023

If you love ways to make and save money, get a $100 cash bonus from ING, $14 from Up Bank or have a look at the full list of freebies, offers and discounts for every state.

Originally posted on Kylie Travers in August 2016.

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Shelley Barr

Thursday 2nd of May 2024

Thank you for this site. I feel like Im not the only one my situation is that my partner has phicosis, not sure how to even spell it, along with dementia and schitophrenia, again cant spell it This is so hard to live with Ive gotten books out of the library to understand it but Im fed up with constantly being accused of cheating and of whispering to people. It drives me nuts. Im 55 and my kids are thankfully all grown up and they arent his children and have no issues with them other than i didnt raise them. thats another story. My issue is that I only found out yesterday that for the past 2 months he hasnt paid the rent. I pay half so I gave him my half of the rent to give the landlord as I usually do. I dont know what he did with the money nor will he tell me, so now Ive got the landlord breathing down my neck and he tells the landlord, who resides upstairs that I took it. what kind of assistance am i entitled to Im on social assistance and I heard of a fund for leaving abusive relationships. I live in Edmonton Alberta. Could you give me some sort of direction of where to go from here .My health isint the best I havent seen my family in over 40 years, basically no support system. Please help me as Im afraid of another violent outburst, and this time I wont make it out alive. He probably is reading this right now as Im at the library and he is at the house, surprise, surprise. He gets into my phone via his phone.Please text me back of the options I have here in Alberta, Edmonton.Thank you for letting me write to someone who knows what Im talking about.

The Thrifty Issue

Thursday 2nd of May 2024

Hi Shelley, I am so sorry to hear you are going through this. Does your social security have an officer or specific department for those dealing with abuse? Ours in Australia does. Also, our banks have help and there are womens health centres etc that are free to access. I did find this link for Canada that might help


Saturday 7th of October 2023

Help! 60 yrs in abusive marriage. I have tried everything I thought would help me. I have very little income, I am a senior citizen. I need to move far away. I can’t afford that.

The Thrifty Issue

Saturday 7th of October 2023

I am so sorry you are experiencing this. My best advice would be to contact your local police, make a report (you don't have to press charges or make a statement immediately, you can do the report then choose to come make a statement at another time when you feel prepared to).

With that report, you get an event number and are connected to all the resources in your area to help you with this.

I am unsure where you live so cannot give specific advice. I do know in parts of Australia there is thousands available per person through different charities to help you move.

Cecilia Mandella

Monday 12th of December 2022

I am currently going through this and it's been hard to get away from him. He made me give up my business of 20 plus years to help with his and has left me now with nothing. He moved in the house that we bought together and paid for in full and he left me in my house that I had before we was married but now without a way to pay my mortgage. I recently got a job but not making enough to cover how he left me. Every time I Tru to make money by selling things he destroys the items or finds a way to destroy what I'm trying to sell. I have had to call the police over 20 times and they do nothing. I can't afford a divorce if I don't hire attorney he is going to try to get my house I had before him. He has the business and left me with a neg account and still threatens my life if I divorce him or file TPO. I did file a TPO but got dropped because judge said I could not have any part of business dealings once I did that. He promised he would do better but stay at his other house if I wouldn't go through it. Now he cheats on me with escort services while I am struggling to keep electric on. I am 3 months behind on my 1100 a month mortgage my 233 electric bill was do last week and scheduled to be turned off this week. I get paid on the 15th and 30th and I'm only making like 500 a week bring home. I have my 84 yr old mom living in basement and my son and the weight of keeping a roof over their heads as well has me mentally strained. I have had to bow down to him just to make sure we have food at times. I can't believe that I ever allowed myself to get in this situation. I have always been in business for myself and always helped people in need and was the first to tell other employees or friends etc to stay away from people like him. I have been married for 10 years and never saw this coming nor thought it would lead to this. He got on drugs and it made him worse he accesses me of cheating daily and believes it with all his heart. I put cameras in my room to prove where I'm at all times. I have had to deal with food thrown in my face, breaking of 2 55 in screen tvs and thousand of dollars of items broken in home. Car parts broken and things taken out so I couldn't drive. Keys taken from me when I try to leave. Held hostage for hours listening to him curse me and call me names and threats. He has pushed me down multiple times and while crying telling me to get my fat ass up. I can not hardly walk anymore due to the last tackle. I have gone to police and because we married they can't do anything about the material things and as long as he doesn't leave marks it's his word against mine. Reason for cameras. I have recordings of some things but he has broken 7 phones of mine just this year and left me with the bill now my sprint bill is 560 a month because of the 3 extra lines added because I didn't have the deductible to get replacement. Now my phone is cutoff and just use wifi. I have a good job but doesn't offer benefits but it's been a struggle cause he does everything to make sure I can't get to work on time or at all. He has come into my house at 4 am stabbing my mattress while I'm asleep. He has been arrested five times but all for dui, nothing for what he has done to me. I think the cops just had ro get him for something cause they got tired of being called out. I have been terribly depressed and it's a struggle everyday he had already had me excluded from my family and friends and now I feel like I have no one cause they don't understand what I'm going through. I can't just walk away and he will not stop tormenting me. If I get through this I am going to write a book about what I have gone through because I still wonder how I'm still here today. I've always been a strong woman of faith and always strong minded and not let anyone treat me this way. I'm still in awe of how I got here. Please pray for me as this is very real for me and my family. I found this site searching for financial help as I just don't want to loose my house and if I sell it I don't know where we would go. If anyone knows of financial assistance to help me with utilities and mortgage and food please let me know. I have two settlements I'm waiting on been it's been 3 years already and nothing. If it wasn't for my faith and my two sons I don't think would stick around anymore. I know I'm intelligent, I have a degree, I'm 49 and over weight due to the stress. I just want peace and happiness in my life and I just want him to get help or stay away from me. And he does neither and tells everyone and me that I'm the cause of all of it. It's all my fault!

Shelley Barr

Thursday 2nd of May 2024

@Cecilia Mandella,Boy Cecilia our story sounds so on target of my own, my friends are starting to believe him as he is very convincing, the acussing of cheating on a daily basis is so fustrating and leaving me without a penny I feel for you and understand exactly what your going through. Im just writing to let you know your not alone.I wish we could just put all these so called men all on a island and let them beat each other up


Thursday 17th of June 2021

Great article. I left an abusive relationship years ago. Some other tips is buy things that you'll need like tampons, shampoo, conditioner, laundry detergent, etc. Even some shelf stable food items like peanut butter and canned soups. Stock up on those when you can and keep them boxed up and hidden if you know you can leave with your stuff. Things like this are expensive when you're on your own. It helps cut down on your monthly budget. Buy gas and grocery store gift cards to stash them away if you can. If you're on the other persons health/dental insurance try getting anything that needs to be done while on it. (ie: a cavity filled, doctors visits, etc.) I'm now remarried but I don't think I'll ever get out hiding money and items away mentality. Even though my current husband is great and we've been together for over 20 years, I still secretly save because I never want to be in a possition where I can't leave if I need to.

Jessica Sparks

Wednesday 14th of October 2020

I live in oklahoma and i want to share a tip that i am trying. I am going to begin buying gift cards.

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