Uncensored Money: On Money and Relationships - with Annabelle Daniel OAM 

Melissa Browne: Ex-Accountant, Ex-Financial Advisor, Ex-Working Till I Drop, Now Serial Entrepreneur & Author, Financial Wellness Advocate, Living a Life by Design | 10/06/2023


Show Notes

[Trigger warning] This episode discusses domestic and family abuse.

Annabelle Daniel OAM is the chair of the Domestic Violence New South Wales Board and the CEO of the Women’s Community Shelters. You can find out more about, or support, the Women’s Community Shelters here

In this interview, Mel asks Annabelle about her money story as well as diving into power and relationships, financial abuse, coercive control and much more.

If you or someone close to you is experiencing family violence, please talk to someone. You can call 1800 RESPECT (Australia only) if you would like to talk to a professional service or if there is an immediate threat to safety call the police on Triple Zero (000) (Australia only).

If you know you need more help with your finances make sure you join the waitlist for the next round of the My Financial Adulting Plan

If you're not already, come play over at insta at Mel Browne.Money and make sure you are signed up to Mel's Money Musings and Monday Money Moments (yep, we love us some alliteration) for more tips, tricks and ideas on how to best work with your money.

Finally, if you love this episode please make sure you subscribe and leave us a review.



Mel: Well, thank you so much Annabelle, for having our conversation with me today. As I was saying to you before I hit record, when I looked through the guests that I wanted to have, you were one of the top five, cause I think this is such an important conversation and the work you do is so important.

Annabelle: Oh, thank you so much. It's really delightful to be here, and I'm so grateful for your support of shelter number five in our network, the Haven Nepean Women's Shelter, which is doing an absolutely awesome job out there and shortly about to expand in the opening of its second premises. And I just think these kinds of conversations are so important for busting taboos and for really getting down to brass tacks about what money means. And how women in particular can be impacted by its use and misuse at times.

Mel: Yes, absolutely. No, I'm so excited about this conversation. But before we dive in and talk more, I wanna ask a question about you, and it's a question that I ask all my guests, which is, what was your money story growing up?

Annabelle: Yeah, and that's a really interesting one because I would say that probably the biggest influence in my life around money and how I thought about it was my grandfather who really stepped into the dad role after my parents divorced when I was only about five. And he was a small businessman. He'd been, working for himself for a really long time. And he was very he encouraged me. He would sort of have little office jobs that he would keep to one side collating and photocopying and he would well and truly overpay me to do those kinds of things. But he always encouraged me to be thinking about earning money from an early age.

And so I grew up with the story that I would always, I would work and I would earn my own money. And he used to say two things that really stuck with me. And he said, you never get rich working for anybody else. And he also said, money can't buy you happiness, but it can certainly make your misery more comfortable.

Mel: He's a wise man.

Annabelle: He absolutely was. And look, I think there's a lot of truth in both of those things. Although in my career trajectory, I have ended up working for other people in the sense that I work for a cause and I get a lot of joy out of that, and I've probably compromised a bit of what I could earn from that. But that's a very active choice that I've made. And so I really had quite a positive script around money, that it wasn’t something to be ashamed of for a woman to want that, but also to work towards earning it herself.

Mel: I love that gift of that money story. And as an adult, what did you reject and what did you keep? Particularly I'm curious about the line of work that you are in and what you see, has that influenced your money story as an adult?

Annabelle: Very, very much so. And I think you can't really work in domestic and family violence without being aware of just what a huge plank of control money can actually be. And so for me, I have had an unbroken period of employment since I was 17 years old. I've never been without a job and I'm now in my early fifties. And so earning my own money and securing my own future has been a thread that's gone all of the way through that and I think as I got deeper into the domestic and family violence work, that view has only enhanced. I consolidated all my super accounts when I was in my early thirties to make sure they were all in one place. I was really mindful that during the periods of leave that I took when my children were young, I tried to make extra contributions to super when I could, all of that sort of thing. When my ex-husband and I went through our divorce, we talked about super as part of that and negotiated sort of some splitting around that kind of thing. I think doing this kind of work has surfaced a lot of conversations, which for a lot of people and a lot of relationships just go unspoken.

And so for me, it's incredibly important that we actually bust the shame about talking about money and whose job it is to earn it and spend it and what the gender roles are in that kind of thing because otherwise and quite frequently in what I see, women can end up at a huge disadvantage. And compromising their own futures and their older age by either not understanding, not equipping themselves, but also being deluded out of their own entitlements as well by abusive partners.

Mel: Absolutely. And gosh, I'm seeing so much of that in the work that I do with women and financial literacy, either women realising for the first time, oh my gosh, if I want choice I'm going to have to look at my finances or where that power imbalance has been there. They've never been allowed to look at the finances. And suddenly, if they're like a child with their finances, for me, it's that agency. You can get it back so quickly cause it's simply a skill. No different than riding a bike. Might be tricky to start, but once you learn how to manage your finances, it's actually easier than you think.

Annabelle: And you know what really interesting is one of the myths I would really wanna bust around women who've experienced financial abuse particularly is that they've got no idea how to manage money. A lot of them are very good because they've had to get by on almost nothing. The problem is not that they don't know how to manage money. It's actually that they've had no money to manage. They're not allowed to, or they've been living in poverty or they've kind of squirrelled away like 20 cent pieces at a time to build a little nest egg, you know? And so you've got this enormous range of capacity in women who've experienced abuse. And the other thing about busting the shame is that having a level of mastery and skill over managing your own money and understanding how it works is a source of pride, and it should be a source of pride and power and confidence in yourself that you can make those good decisions.

Mel: No, I can't agree more. And you've mentioned the word financial abuse. So I wanna lean into that because I think when people say domestic violence, they understand that it can mean physical violence, but they don't understand the other things such as financial abuse. So can you talk to me a bit about what financial abuse is? What does it look like? And even if we can have a conversation around, what's okay and what's not okay. Because I think because people don't talk about money, potentially women particularly are in a scenario that they think is normal, but actually it's really not.

Annabelle: Yeah, and I think it is a good thing to talk about. And I would just say as a top-line figure, it would be incredibly rare for us to see a case of domestic abuse where a woman has not been subject to financial abuse. Without question, it is one of the most common planks of domestic violence or abuse. And look, it can take a huge range of appearances. It can be anything from making someone go and get a job and work and then taking all of their money and using it, the abusive partner uses it for their own purposes. And it can be almost the opposite. It can be interfering with somebody's workplace by calling them 20 or 30 times a day or asking them who they're talking to or what colleagues they're speaking with, what meetings they're going into. And basically making it difficult for them to focus and concentrate at work, which can effectively sabotage their income-earning capacity and cause problems for their employment. It can be around things like, refusing to allow somebody to work. And insisting on being the main breadwinner and giving somebody only an allowance to live off or refusing to share their income with the family and forcing the woman to buy all of the children's needs outta family payments or whatever she might be eligible for from Centrelink. It can be giving somebody a credit card and saying that's the only way that you are allowed to spend. So they've got an entire tracking of every single dollar that somebody spends, refusing to allow them any discretionary money. It can be about going to the supermarket with them and saying what things they are permitted to buy, what they're allowed to have. And in its very extreme circumstance, it can actually go to a stage where it looks like modern slavery, women can actually be exploited. In terms of even sexual exploitation or those kinds of things, refusing to allow to leave the house, being forced to work in substandard conditions forced to take lower than award wage jobs, all of those kinds of things. The span of control can be really big. And also we see a lot of technological control in respect of bank accounts. One or occasionally what we see in post-separation financial abuse is where somebody makes small deposits to somebody else's bank account and uses the reference line to continue harassing and abusing somebody. So look, it's as it's wide-ranging.

Mel: Yeah, and it's interesting cause some of what you described, I think about my parents and that's exactly what happened. You know my dad would doll out housekeeping to my mum. It was a ridiculously low amount. She was not allowed to get a job. And so a lot of us grew up with these things, I think, thinking that's normal when actually you look back and it just so was not okay.

Annabelle: Exactly. Also I think times have changed a lot in that. Part of the power of all of this stuff, and the fact that it continues, is that it was very much attached to traditional gender roles for men and women. That this was what was seen as the right thing to do. It comes out of this sort of post-war era of the nuclear family where the man was the breadwinner, mum was at home with the kids, white picket fence. The whole ideal of what family life should be like. And that stuff has power in our collective psyche. And it takes upward pressure to push back against that. Even in modern relationships still.

Mel: So if you are working with someone that has experienced that financial abuse, what are the steps that you would talk to them about how to either remove themselves for that or start conversations around, well, actually this is not okay?

Annabelle: Look, I think, it's one of those situations where if you are in a relationship that isn't abusive, you should be able to have those conversations without conflicts. Do you know what I mean? You should sit down with your partner and say, look I've got to this point where I just feel like I need to understand a little bit more about our picture. Because a family is a little economy in and of itself. It's an economic unit. And it's important that everybody who participates in it understands how it works and what the limits are, and that's in a non-abusive relationship, that is a reasonable request and it will be viewed reasonably, and then the appropriate actions will be taken. In an abusive relationship, what you might get in response to that is stonewalling, or its refusal or defensiveness or, protectiveness, or secretiveness on the part of the other partner. Because the other thing is that, people might deliberately be keeping somebody in the dark. And so I think the real measure is, you have to test the water with those conversations. But if you have a feeling the dynamic isn't right within your relationship already, then those would be the kinds of things I would look out for if you were asking those questions. Because it's very hard to make an abusive relationship non-abusive because the threads of control tend to go across different spheres.

Mel: Yeah. And I think there's a difference between feeling uncomfortable talking about money. And we know from Relationships Australia that arguments about money is the one of the highest predictors of divorce. It's the number one thing we fight about it. We fight about it twice a month. What I'm hearing is it's very different to be uncomfortable talking about it and for it not to feel natural and even to have that pushback around, oh, I'd rather not, and I will not, and this is how it is.

Annabelle: Yeah. Exactly right. And I think that's really the thing. It's one partner using money as the power and control tool and not being willing to share the power around that decision-making. As even within functional couples, there are differences of approach in terms to risk. That people are prepared to take on in terms of investment or how they spend their money. And it can be a source of tension and it can be a source of ongoing discussion. But again, it's about if there's collaborative discussion, even if it is uncomfortable then that's okay. We all have our internal stuff that we have to get over, but if there's a point-blank refusal and an ongoing refusal, then that's a bit of a red flag.

Mel: And I think it's really good to have this conversation because it gives permission as well for people to be looking at perhaps their friend's relationship and saying, actually that's not okay. And to be able to bring up that, and even just to direct them to this podcast to say, hey, just have a listen to this. And then can we have a chat about it? And maybe it is, girlfriends doing that as a group, we're gonna listen and then we're gonna have a chat because one of them may be in that situation and you would have no idea because it's just not spoken about.

Annabelle: Yep. Or else it maps completely onto the way that you saw your parents do things and then therefore it feels comfortable.

Mel: Yep. Absolutely. That would be my experience. I wanna talk power in relationships. Cause you've mentioned power quite a few times and a few weeks ago I talked to the very fabulous Kemi Nekvapil about power and money and her books all about power and it was a really positive and uplifting conversation. But with the work you do, power has very different connotations than what I had during that conversation with Kemi. How do you see power play out in the work you do, particularly when it comes to money?

Annabelle: Yeah, look, and I think everything that's behind all domestic and family violence and abuse is actually power and control. Power is about enforcing compliance in someone. It's about continuing to maintain a position of control and to get somebody else to do what you want. And essentially money can be a tool to do exactly that, which I think we've teased out a little bit.

But one of the things that we always focus on too, when we are working with women across our shelter network is, there are a few things in play. Obviously, you want the safe roof over their head. You want the support to wrap around them. Cause you're often navigating a whole bunch of different systems at the moment that, you either decide to leave or you're forced to because of an event. And there's also the community inclusion and the support that's out there. But one of the very important components of work that we do with the women that we support is about employment, education, and training. Cause getting on that pathway to financial independence is absolutely critical. And what we do know is that if women do get that support to enter, employment education training, they put so much of it into enriching their own futures and those of their children. I think there's gender-based research around that says that women on average will put 70% of what they earn back into their children, their communities, in terms of improving futures, and I think that stuff's incredibly important because, particularly with the rental situation as it is, across Australia right now the level of competitiveness for women even trying to find an affordable rental property or to try and buy somewhere, is just out of control. But it is absolutely foundational to people being able to build a new future. Thinking about money, thinking about economics, thinking about how to get how to support women in their goals towards that pathway is super important for the work that we do.

Mel: Yeah. And we used to offer scholarships to our community and just we would be flooded with people who are in these situations and we actually had to stop cause it was heartbreaking. And how do you choose, it's like Solomon's choice. But definitely for your organisation, we would wanna offer those same scholarships for each round that we do of our course because I think having financial literacy is so important. So if that's helpful. We would love to do that.

Annabelle: Yeah, absolutely. And we'll talk offline about that one for sure. Definitely.

Mel: I absolutely agree when for power and control, that's actually part of my money story. When I've looked back and realised that there was financial abuse and all sorts of things happening in my household growing up power and control is something that's really important to me growing up. And I guess I think about kids that have been through those situations. And certainly for me, it's really important not to want to wrestle power and control from my partner and almost repeat the mistakes that I've seen, because I want to feel safe when it comes to money. So what are your thoughts around the kids of people that have seen that and how can we make sure that if we've been through that situation that we can change the money story for our kids cause they're gonna be listening. I never wanna be in my mother's position. But you also don't wanna overreach to that point where you actually are the person that's causing the abuse.

Annabelle: Yeah. And I think that's a really interesting one because I think, and particularly too as parents, we often try to overcompensate for the upbringing that we had. And go completely in the opposite direction. And I think a little bit of self-compassion about that is required to be honest. And I think the most important thing that we can think about in terms of that is actually surfacing those scripts that are within us, which you've clearly done.

And certainly I've tried to do as well. It's what are the scripts that I grew up with that are telling me about this? And how can I make sure that I do have control and how we think about that and how we talk to our kids about it. Cause none of us want our kids to grow up with unhealthy scripts around money either. We want them obviously to know the value of it. We want them to understand that there's reward for effort out there. Exactly as you say, this is a skill that can be learned. That you can make choices about it. You know that you don't always have to go for the highest pay packet. You can make choices about fulfilment. All of those kinds of things. And I think probably the best thing to do is just to continue to have open conversations about it and to actually just bust the shame of talking about it.

It's one of those things that, I often feel like I grew up in an era where you didn't talk about money and you didn't talk about religion, and you didn't talk about politics. That was like sex, money, religion. Not polite society conversation. And so, I think we just need to get better about that because abuse breeds in silence. It really does. And if we don't, if we don't bust the silence around these things, then they do become opportunities for people to do the wrong thing. Or to take that covert power or to subtly exploit other people and we don't want that.

Mel: And I think kids are little sponges, so it's understanding they will have picked up what's going on. So it's about reframing and retraining them in the same way that you are being reframed and retrained as well.

Annabelle: And being honest about things. Your kids might go to a school where they have school friends who travel a lot, and it’s just being honest and saying, look, I'm really sorry. We don't have the money to do what they do. And that's just the way it is, because families are different and we have different priorities and I think there's a lot of damage that is done in keeping up with the Joneses and keeping up appearances and all of that sort of thing. Your kids are gonna love you for being authentic about that kind of thing anyway. I think they're important conversations to have.

Mel: In New South Wales, there was recently legislation passed around coercive control, which I was really excited to read that. Can you tell me more about that and what it looks like and is that similar for other states as well?

Annabelle: Yeah we have an interesting system in Australia in that because we have three levels of government and a separate crimes act in every State, so each State is gonna need to enact its own coercive control legislation. And look I have been a strong advocate of coercive control legislation since the beginning. I think without it, we are just missing the vast majority of what domestic and family violence is. One of the really compelling statistics that came out of the Joint Select Committee Inquiry before the legislation was passed was a review of all of the domestic and family violence homicides that had occurred in New South Wales since 2008. And in 111 out of 112, they were preceded by coercive control which in a lot of cases, included financial control. And so what that says is that if we can identify these patterns of power and control and behaviour and consistent patterns before domestic homicides occurred, that's our greatest opportunity for intervention and for cutting it off at the past.

And quite frankly, living in a coercively controlling relationship can, at its worst feel like intimate terrorism. It really is. You are walking on eggshells all the time. You're consistently worried about pleasing your partner. You're obsessively focused on fixing the relationship. You feel like you're going crazy. You're having your definition of reality overwritten by somebody else's narrative all of the time. And it is a stressful and terrifying way to live. And so in and of itself that should be a crime, you know? It should absolutely. No person should be able to put somebody else in fear and entrap them that way, which is ultimately a lot of what it is about social entrapment of women. The legislation is incredibly important. It's actually not gonna come into force in New South Wales until probably mid-2024. I'm on the implementation task force for that legislation and there's a lot of work to be done in advance in terms of training, police and justice court officials. There's training for the sector as well because we'll be walking alongside women who are considering or making the decision to report. There's also a community education campaign that will need to happen. I'm really heartened to see that there are other jurisdictions across Australia that are looking to do this. Queensland's looking to do it at the moment. And South Australia is also moving down that path because I think what we need to make sure of is that women don't have a postcode lottery in terms of what can be done where they're experiencing substantially the same behaviours. And so it's important for me to see it happen across Australia. But there has been some opposition to it from certain sector groups and that's a lot around the misidentification of Aboriginal women as being the primary perpetrators of abuse. Like in some cases, the police get it wrong when they go out to a physical incident. They will see somebody who's distressed and angry, and quite often the perpetrator of abuse can miraculously turn calm when the police turn up and do all of the manipulation and somebody else looks like they're the aggressive and crazy one, and they get pinged with being the perpetrator of the abuse when they're actually reacting as the victim.

And so, in terms of some historical stuff, there is work to be done around that. But I think, certainly when you look broadly at it, for me the compelling numbers are in those domestic homicide reviews, which show the overwhelming prevalence. And I think we would be remiss if we didn't legislate for an opportunity to stop it before it gets to homicide because that just costs, personally, economically and socially, it costs too much to lose too many precious women yeah to domestic homicide every year.

Mel: So if someone is in a state where that isn't the case now, who should they contact? Who should they be writing to, to say, Hey, I want this brought into my State?

Annabelle: They should be writing to their state's Attorney General. Or the Minister for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence. And Monash University recently released a study that interviewed and had responses from 1,260 victim survivors. And overwhelmingly, over 90% of victim survivors reported that they wanted to seek coercive control criminalised. And those are really powerful statistics. And off the back of that report I think letters to Attorney Generals and Ministers for Domestic and Family Violence will be well received.

Mel: Yeah, perfect. I read an alarming statistic. Probably a couple of years ago that the risk of domestic violence increases by 30% when a woman earns more than her male partner. And I think people have this comprehension that financial abuse or DV occurs to people that are earning less than their partners or that are controlled in that way. Is that a pattern you are seeing with what you do? Cause I was stunned by those statistics and every time I talk about them publicly, which I do a lot, people are horrified. And women particularly.

Annabelle: Yeah. It doesn't surprise me, and I'll tell you why. And I think it's because it subverts that gender paradigm, it really does. In 50 years ago, we were, we would've talked about men being emasculated by their partner earning more than them. And I think there is a large association with money and power, who holds the power balance in the relationship? Oh, she earns more than you mate. She's wearing the pants. Those kinds of gendered perceptions of what earning power is and what it means to people and it's interesting that you mentioned that stat. Cause I remember a few years ago when Annabel Crabb wrote a book called The Wife Drought. And in it, she was talking about a similar thing, the housework ratio where women outearn their husbands suddenly they turned into super wife and super mum at home and actually did way more housework.

Mel: And it's almost like they have to prove their femininity.

Annabelle: Exactly. Prove their competence in these traditionally feminine spheres in order to overcompensate for the fact that they might be earning more than their partner. And I think what that says a lot is just how entrenched our gender norms are and just how subconscious that sort of feeling is of okay, what's my power in this relationship? What's my standing, and I think we have to keep having these conversations that surface those underlying things. Because what we all want is relationships where there is an interchange and someone takes the lead at some time and someone else can take the lead at another time. That there's that ebb and flow as things change. But what it isn't is these unspoken ideas of what must be. I think it's only gonna be more important, as phenomenally great of numbers of women achieve university education and want to continue in their professional roles during and after having children.

Mel: Yeah. And when I was a financial advisor, I would see a lot where women would come in on their own because they were out owning their male partner and their male partner would not engage with them. So they would not talk to them about money. They would insist that it be kept completely separate. And so the woman would say I need to come in and start investing. Cause if I don't, I'm gonna be on the back foot and he won't engage. So it's interesting looking back now, everything you've said about power and control, it's a form of financial abuse where you're going, I will not engage with you because you're earning more.

Annabelle: And there's a lot of conversations in there too. I think, I'm a bit of an internet tragic, and I love reading relationship scenarios and people post on Reddit or whatever about, am I the bad guy here?  And it's often about money. It’s often about that concept of splitting costs equally where people earn different amounts versus, okay, what's an equitable sharing? It's like you earned 60%, I own 40%. Let's contribute according to our capacity. And just all of those different ways of thinking about what is fair. And sometimes people hang on to very rigid ideas of what is fair that actually end up really unfair for one person or the other.

Mel: And it doesn't have to be monetary. I know in the last few years I've far outearn my husband and he has no problem with me saying that, but as far as him contributing financially, it just doesn't make sense. But he contributes with cooking and, doing the groceries and all that sort of thing. It doesn't necessarily have to be a financial contribution.

Annabelle: Yeah. That caring has an in-kind value as well. Absolutely. You would've seen it as well, if you're gonna cost out the value of what home duties is, it's like in the order of six figures a year, if somebody's doing all of that kind of stuff, it's not an insignificant contribution. And it has value. And the fact that it hasn't been historically valued by the marketplace doesn't mean it's without value.

Mel: Definitely. Let’s talk about women and homelessness. I know this is something that whilst we might not think it, there's a direct correlation between DV it really can be insofar as power and control or when you are leaving and not having access to that super splitting and not being allowed to work and so much more. There are so many scary statistics at the moment, with women over 55 being most at risk. The hundreds of thousands of women in their forties at risk, and I'm having so many conversations with women about super and career gaps, and often they'll say that if they split with their partner, they'll get half of their partner's super. So it's not worth asking for it upfront, and certainly that's not what I see in the work that I do. So can you talk more to that? In your work around women and homelessness, what are you seeing?

Annabelle: Yeah, look I think it's a really interesting one. We know that there's a gender pay gap for a start, across many industries. We also know that women overwhelmingly take the hit in terms of the carer penalty for working part-time or taking casual or lower-paid jobs, particularly while they're mixing child-rearing or other caring responsibilities with working. So they tend to have more broken career paths. Which of course, impacts upon super and which of course impacts upon that future security because as we know, when the super system was designed based on a male full-time breadwinner model. And the idea that there would be this intact family at the end of it that shared in his earnings later in life. And of course, we know that's not the trajectory that's played out over the last 35, 40 years.

And what we also see, I think people don't leave without a lot of thought. Quite often it's been going on for a long period of time, this abuse, and they've got to the point where either something particular happens and they make that decision or it's made for them. And essentially if there are any assets to fight for, a lot of women will say, he will drag it out through the courts for years, or he will just hang on to everything. Like, he'll tell me in text messages, he will financially ruin me. And so they decide, I'm just gonna walk away. I'm gonna start again. I'm gonna leave it all behind. And they may have a small super balance, but essentially they're starting from scratch. And then we also know that post-separation financial abuse can happen in the form of refusal to pay child support, reducing your income deliberately so you have a lower assessment. Making it difficult, spinning out legal proceedings that cost money for people, all of those things can drag on for years. Particularly if there are children involved. And so that can also impact on your working capacity. If you have to take days off every month or every second month, the DV leave will help. But those kinds of things can impact on somebody's ongoing earning capacity. And gearing up for a financial fight about what you are entitled to involve a pretty unique calculation for every woman as to whether it's gonna be worth it.

And that said wherever it is possible and wherever they have the right support working alongside them I think it can be a powerful preventative against homelessness in older age. Because what we see and what I've seen is, there are instances where women have raised children as single parents. They've never received the child support they're entitled to, they're entitled to tens of thousands of dollars, or even hundreds of thousands of dollars that have never been collected and then the kids get to 18 and the debt gets wiped. And it might be a case of, oh, you raised the children without it, so you didn't really need it. And yes that’s true. But that money could now stave off her going into homeless in old age. And so we work with every woman being the expert in their own life, because every woman knows their ex-partner best. They've had the opportunity. But I think the lens on doing everything within your power to secure your own financial future, wherever it is safe for you to do, is incredibly important.

Mel: And I think for a young woman,  it is even thinking about contributing a small amount extra early. If you are able to have a conversation with your partner cause it's safe to do, it's having conversation about super splitting and taking advantage of rebate and co-contribution, but also realising afterwards you don't need extraordinary amounts of money to make a difference. You can if I invested $50 a week and I did consistently that for 20, 30 years, that's gonna make an extraordinary difference to me at the end. So it's this myth that you need lots of money to make a difference to your future. You can actually start small.

Annabelle: Yeah, exactly. And that is also a little piece of choice that you can carve out at a time when you might not have a lot of scope for other kinds of choices.

Mel: Yeah, absolutely. Annabelle, if our conversation has highlighted that you or a loved one are experiencing some type of power imbalance, what are some things you can do today to correct that and to ensure you're safe?

Annabelle: Yeah, really, really important. And I think the first thing is that if it sparked any worry the 1-800-RESPECT line is absolutely terrific for just brief conversations. It is shame-free. You pick up the phone, you call, you talk about what. what's going through your head, even if you don't have all of the words to describe it, you don't have to talk about it perfectly.

The second thing is to maintain your trusted people and your social connections. And if there is somebody that you feel safe to reach out to and talk to, that's incredibly important because what we do know about abusive relationships is that abusive partners will tend to isolate people. They will cut them off from their social sources of strength. Even subtly, oh, I don't like your friends or she's no good for you. Or, gosh, your mother's so annoying. Why are you going and talking to her all the time? You know that a lot of that subtle stuff happens where an abusive partner will attempt to isolate you from your social networks, and so the most powerful thing that you can do is build relationships outside that primary relationship as a preventative to make sure that you've got someone to course correct you on realities. So that's really useful.

There are a range of services available. There's also the New South Wales DV line, which is 1-800-656-463. And in cases of crisis and homelessness in New South Wales, Link2Home line, which is 1 800 152 152. And both of those two lines can make placements in the case of an emergency.

I also am a firm believer in reading. A lot of my education in their spaces has taken place around reading and there are plenty of books out there about abusive relationships. One of them, and in fact, I've got it on my desk, is this one, which is called, Why Does He Do That by Lundy Bancroft. And it is inside the minds of angry and controlling men. And it is a most extraordinary resource and one that I would credit for light bulb moments in a lot of people. So look, there's a range of information out there. There's a heap of stuff on the web too. If you Google domestic violence in New South Wales or what is abuse or anything like that, the resources will pop up. So if it's safe for you to do online searches there's also web chatting available with the 1-800-RESPECT line as well.

Mel: And you might not be that person, but it's having conversations with girlfriends as well. So that we normalise this and we can start to realise what actually is normal and what's normal and pass these resources on. Annabelle said that early on too, part of women having our own money is that we tend to spend on our community and on our family. So I'll put links to Annabelle’s site if you want to support the work that she does because these places aren't cheap to run. So that’s the Women's Community Shelters. I love how you operate in it. There are quite a few different shelters and you're able to support one another and reduce their admin costs and different things like that for the different shelters. So, this can also be a beautiful way. I mean, tax time's coming up soon, you get a donation for it. So I'll put a link in as well.

Thank you so much for this conversation, Annabelle, it was such an important one to have. Thank you so much for coming on.

Annabelle: Oh, look, I'm really delighted to come on and, thank you for allowing me to share a little bit about my money story and just how critical it is that we talk more about the financial elements of abuse and, just how we think about money and surface all of those unspoken things. Because we can't change what we don't acknowledge. And we need to have many more open conversations if we're gonna solve these big, big, wicked problems.

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