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What is financial trauma?

The effects of financial abuse are often deeply felt and affect more than just our financial well-being. Circumstances resulting from abuse like forced debt, lost advancement opportunities, and poverty can be traumatizing.

What is financial trauma?

The definition of trauma includes injury to a body, such as from physical violence or an accident, and severe emotional or mental distress caused by an experience. Financial trauma falls under the second half of this definition. Understanding trauma is important because it can negatively impact the way our minds and bodies process normal life experiences. This can make it hard to function in what would otherwise be a normal situation.

Financial trauma is often the result of chronic financial stress, like having your finances controlled by someone else or living in poverty for an extended period of time. Some symptoms of financial stress include:

  • Negative perceptions about money, which may include blaming yourself for monetary failures
  • Inability to concentrate, with intrusive thoughts about impending financial disaster
  • Perceiving your overall environment as negative, always waiting for the next disaster to strike
  • Worsening nervous energy, leading to inability to concentrate and follow through on things, insomnia, nightmares, and nervousness and anxiety
  • Anxiety that every time a letter arrives or the telephone rings, it is a bill collector
  • Isolating yourself due to shame or fear, affecting relationships, work, and overall well-being

Start the healing process

Reflecting on your financial journey can be both healing and empowering. 

As a starting point, we recommended viewing the “Exploring our Relationship to Money and Beginning the Healing Journey Webinar'' by FreeFrom, a nonprofit dedicated to empowering survivors to build the wealth and financial security necessary to heal to thrive.

Through watching this webinar, we hope you discover avenues towards healing that will work well for you and help you feel more confident making financial decisions. 

Get support

You are not alone. There are many people with trauma, money problems, and fear surrounding that trauma and financial stress. And there is lots of help available. You can talk about your financial challenges with trusted friends and family members. Professional therapists can help you learn to approach problems and how to solve them differently, and they can also provide you with more assistance, resources and opportunities.

If you would like help finding affordable support, you can contact a direct service provider in your area, who can help connect you to a local mental wellness professional.

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