Do you know if there are any resource networks for ex-military spouses? I have a unique situation that I haven't been able to find help with and I'm hoping someone will have an idea.
My ex-husband was in the Army, and I left him to move out to go to college in order to escape domestic violence. He retaliated by charging $25,000 on my credit cards, knowing that I didn't have the option to file for bankruptcy since I work in finance and it would destroy job prospects, and because he was my spouse I wouldn't be able to file for identity theft. I couldn't afford a lawyer, and since I was only 18 at the time and he was considerably older, I was hardly making the minimum payment in income for a month's work.
He promised to pay the bill when we split, since he incurred it, but after only a month stopped. He transferred between different bases, and took advantage of the moves by intentionally withholding his contact information (phone number, etc) so that I couldn't find him, wouldn't be able to ask for help paying the bills, and also to prevent me from divorcing him since he wanted the extra income and housing benefits of being married.
When I eventually found his CFO, we talked and the man assured me that he'd make sure my husband would be making the minimum payments as we had agreed upon over email. That never happened, and talking to his CFO was the last I ever heard from him. I was only able to even get divorced because he finally decided he wanted to marry another military member, so he sent me an email insisting I expedite the signing when I received the divorce papers so he could quickly remarry.
He never returned any of my personal belongings. I lost all of my possessions and left with $25,0000 in debt before I could even legally enter a bar. I didn't have any support network, and was suffering from the trauma of the memories of abuse, but I did everything I had to in order to be free. When I left him I moved to a state with family members, bought a "soccer mom" van, and lived out of the van while attending college during the day and working at night and on weekends. I showered in the school's gym and no one knew I didn't have a home. Eventually I was able to save enough for an apartment, and add meat and fruit to my diet instead of just ramen and whatever items were spoiled and free in dumpsters or at shelters. I worked an internship in finance and wore a suit most of the time. No one knew the details of the financial struggles my military marriage left me with.
I left 10 years ago, and because of the position I was in when I left him (earning $1,000 a month as an 20 year old student and paying $600+ to his debt, mostly towards interest, before rent and food), I'm still in debt and struggling.
Since then I've always had 2-3 jobs to cover the debt, since the interest rates is extremely high because of the credit card utilization rate-I have never missed a payment on any account. I could never afford legal assistance, and to this day I can't get approved for a reasonable loan to pay it off, from USAA or from anywhere else.
Even though I didn't charge it, I'm more than willling to pay it off. I value responsbility and I know I made the decision to be with him. However, since interest can be very powerful, I've still only scrape at it-All ncome after rent goes to simply making minimum payments, as the interest accrues. I work 9-6 in an office, and come home and do freelance online work until 3 am, 4 or 5 am (as long as I can stand it) and I only eat twice. I'm very tired and my health is admittedly sufferring. I'm reaching out for advice here since I feel at the end of my rope. When I tried to receive assistance from the military to reach him in years past, at one point his CFO told me I had to be lying that he did this to me, because, in his words, "all military memebers are good men and paid well and he'd have no need to do that."
Are there any networds that provide any kind of assistance to ex military spouses? Or assistance via providing loans at reasonable rates to those who have formerly suffered abuse? Even if there weren't official documents filed? I never went in for help to the station because I didn't want him to get in trouble, and when it went on I realized the most important thing was getting out as quickly as possible. I know he at one point left the miiliary and became a civilian, if that factor matters. I'm unsure as to the status of his wife, or if he has re-enlisted.
Since my entire life is structured around working extra hours to make minimum payments to keep his accounts current, I feel like I never escaped him or the horrible marriage.
After 10 years, I want to be free. I've worked so very hard and I think I've earned it over this past decade, to be free of him and the fears of how I'll eat because of what he bought back then. It's been very difficult to start every day that way, but I've done my best to stay positive and focus on goals (which is why I work so late and have kept up on payments despite the odds being against me).
This year I turn 30 and if I don't turn things around, over half of my life will have been spent working to pay the bills of my ex-husband from the Army that used to strangle me. Please, any tips or suggestions are appreciated, here or via private message...I'm a hard worker and I'm desperate. This month my available credit dropped to $126, I have $49 cash, and payday isn't until Friday when the bus to work and back costs $5.50 for starters.
Words cannot properly express how sad and sorry I am to hear about your situation. I cannot imagine the bravery it must have taken to leave. I am so glad you are safe now.
I encourage you to contact our team of Financial Advisers here at USAA who can give you free advice based on your specific situation and needs. They can be reached at 800-771-9960.
Here are some additional links you may find helpful:
Thank you for taking the time to comment. Again, I commend you for your bravery. Good luck
Very sorry to hear of your isues. It is very difficult to recompensate anything when it comes to domestic issues but there are some things that you can do!
1. Have the domestic abuse documented, by friends, relatives, witnesses and medical records.
Obtain any police reports that you may have filed.
You may need to seek Legal advice to sue your husband in Civil court to have him held liable for the debts.
Not sure if you reported these incidents to the Army Community Services near your location, but they do have trained counselors that can get involved in notifying the approriate agencies and the Commander of your spouse.
Be aware that you will have to prove everything that you claim.
Any eveidence that you have , letters, correspondence from yiour spouse regarding the debts can be used as evidence and also be included in your Credit Records. It is your responsibility to notify them of the issues and circumstances.
The same information should be provided to the credit card companies themselves.
Sometimes they can assist you in the proper documentation. like providing you with accounting documents that show you did not make the transactions, and the person doing so did so without your consent. anything you have in writing between you that would be an agreement that one of the other would accept repsonsibility for the debts can be used to help clear things up.
be aware that this is not going to go away overnight.
I suggest that you see an attorney , one with credit counseling ties. You may consider a wide variety of approaches to resolve the issues, but an attorney is more qualified than I or many of the other members. It is nice to here someone cares, but better when someone actually can help!
Wish you the Best
Co Founder SHAMEONUSAA.org