Single mum thankful for help after financially abusive relationship
For single mum-of-two Sarah*, facing up to her debt also meant finding the courage to leave her abusive relationship.
When COVID-19 struck, Sarah found herself in a refuge centre and coming to terms with starting a new life with her young children.
The relationship not only cost Sarah her home and her job in the health care sector, but she was left practically penniless because her ex-partner had taken control of all her finances. And what’s more, unknown to her, had also run up bills and taken a loan out in her name.
“I lost my life and my identity”
“It was mostly emotional and financial abuse to the extent that I had no control over my life then it started to become physical so, I decided to leave,” Sarah revealed.
“I went to women’s refuge for safety and was there for a year. I was lucky to be in a refuge, especially as a mum, but I lost my life – my home, my job, my car – I lost my life and identity. I had no money and I was lucky there were charities that could help me.
“I had to go on Universal Credit and that’s when the debt really started because although it helped towards the children, I couldn’t live on what I was on and pay the bills at the same time.”
Sarah eventually found a council house and, with the help of friends and family, slowly began to rebuild her life and tackle the debt she owed.
“It wasn’t that I wasn’t trying to pay off the debt, it was just really difficult with such little income,” she continued.
“I dreaded the post every day because people were chasing me for money and threatening to come to my home and take my possessions, as little as I had. It got very hard and emotional. I almost broke down.”
“When I spoke with Creditfix, I actually felt some confidence”
After sharing her experience with a friend, Sarah was introduced to Creditfix who she praised for offering not only a reassuring service but also for giving her a little confidence.
“They were very polite, reassuring and they listened to what I had to say. I didn’t feel ashamed,” Sarah said.
“Some people, like those who threatened to come to my home, make you feel ashamed and it’s also quite scary. But when I spoke with Creditfix, I actually felt some confidence.”
“I felt a lot better after making that call; to know someone was listening and not just speaking down to me.
“That was about a year ago and unfortunately though, I wasn’t near the criteria to get financial support. But four months ago, I tried again. I had managed to pay off some of my debt after being lucky to get help from family and friends.
“Creditfix helped me to get an Individual Voluntary Arrangement which means I can pay an affordable amount a month to pay my debts and that I don’t have to worry about people chasing me because I’m now legally paying them off monthly.”
“They talk with you like a human and not a number or a pawn in a game”
COVID-19 hit the UK two months later and Sarah admits that she doesn’t know what could have happened during the pandemic if she hadn’t found help support.
“I don’t like to think about what could have happened if I hadn’t been able to sort my debt,” said Sarah. “Some weeks are harder than others but it’s manageable, especially because I know what money I have.
“At the beginning when people were panic buying, it was frightening and emotionally stressful because I worried about my children.
“I can go without, but they can’t. You don’t want to take two young children shopping either, but you have no choice. You can shop online but you have to spend a certain amount and I need that extra money for other things.
“My children come first, and you have to make sacrifices. It’s a bit easier now though that the shops have taken control of the situation.”
Now Sarah’s debts are under control and is encouraging others in a similar situation not to be afraid to find support.
Speaking of her experience reaching out for help, she added: “There are many people in situations similar to me and I don’t think people are always aware of how good organisations like Creditfix are.
“When you’re in a situation like mine, you’re dubious about who you speak to but they talk with you like a human being and not as a number or a pawn in a game. You feel like you matter, and they’ve taken a massive weight off my shoulders.
“If I was working, I wouldn’t have had a problem with losing everything and having nothing. But you don’t expect something like that to happen and it changes your life completely.
“While it’s not easy, you can’t let it swallow you up. You have to try and move on with life and look forward.”
*Name has been changed to protect identity
If you’re worried about your debt or looking for advice about what help is available, talk to Creditfix. Our experienced advisors are specially trained to offer free, confidential advice. Call 0808 253 5687 or connect via live chat. For more information about organisations that can help if you’re living in a financially abusive relationship, click here.