Mel B, Women's Aid Patron
Brutally Honest
Brutally Honest

On Read A Book Day, authors share their experience of economic abuse to help raise awareness.

“In the past twenty something years of my life, I have made more than £80 million. When I met my second husband, I had a house and a loft apartment in Los Angeles and a good career. When I left him I had less than $1,000 in the bank.

The first hint that all my marriage was ever going to do was cost me money was on my wedding day. I paid for the flights to Vegas, the hotel; I bought the wedding rings and I bought a beautiful diamond engagement ring. I wish I had been warned.

Within days of us coming back from Vegas he wasn’t just my husband. He was my manager. It was never officially discussed it just happened. He was the one that decided where I lived, whom I saw (unless I was working) and what I spent my money on. He controlled all my bank accounts. ‘You are so rubbish with money’ he’d say, removing credit cards from my purse. ‘You need someone to sort you out. You’re a washed-up old has-been Spice Girl. You are lucky you have me now.’ He’d take my credit cards and go shopping.

Bizarrely it turns out that it is often the apparently stronger woman who is more likely to be abused. According to statistics, women earning more than 67 per cent of the total household income are seven times more likely to experience psychological and physical abuse. But statistics don’t always explain what it feels like to be perceived as one thing and to see yourself only through the eyes of your abuser. I was a woman who didn’t know herself, didn’t know her bank details, didn’t make decisions small or large and had no friendly relationships with any of her old friends or family. I lost perception of what reality was.

This happened to me, in a street full of multi-million dollar houses in Los Angeles to a famous woman with gorgeous kids. It happens here, it happens in your road, wherever you live. But probably you will never see it. Don’t ever say ‘Just walk away. It’s that simple’. It’s never that simple, you love them. You are scared to leave them. Your whole support network has gone. And for a lot of women out there, it’s because they don’t have the money to leave.

He controlled all my bank accounts. ‘You are so rubbish with money’ he’d say, removing credit cards from my purse. ‘You need someone to sort you out. You’re a washed-up old has-been Spice Girl. You are lucky you have me now.’ He’d take my credit cards and go shopping.

When I left him, I didn’t know the sort codes or bank account numbers – he did all that. I felt like a total idiot. When we eventually cracked it, the money I earnt had gone without a trace. And I had no way of finding out where that money had gone. It is something I am still trying to do years later and I still do not have the answers.

I have to continue to pay my ex-husband a substantial monthly payment. I have legal bills to pay and my three children to support. I pay my own way, as I have done all my life. I have moved from mansions to an apartment in the centre of Los Angeles. I am not complaining. Life is what life is. I have my girls; I carry on working.”

If you’d like to buy one of this book you can also donate to SEA via Amazon Smile at no extra cost to you. Simply select Surviving Economic Abuse as your charity of choice.

Buy Now