Make Your Escape Fund Even if the Narcissist Controls Everything

Be smart, be safe, be free

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash


I share this article with great caution. If the abuser finds out what you are up to it could place you in danger. Only try this after thinking about it carefully. Everyone’s situation is unique. You should have a safety plan in place first. I went about my escape backward and didn’t realize the end was coming soon or how much danger I was in.


When you are in a controlling relationship or domestic violence situation many times you will be cut off from having any financial independence. If you work your paycheck may be taken by the abuser. If you have access to a joint account your spending may be watched carefully.

My Story

Before I was urged by police to flee from my husband for my safety I had been advised to start putting aside some money “just in case”. Today I’m going to share how you can build an emergency fund.

I started an online business which was a cover to open my own bank account. I did actually make some money from it which I was able to use later when I needed it. The abuser knew what I was doing but since he wasn’t around much I kept it quiet. He had lost interest in me and our family at this point so I was able to get away with a lot more than I had been able to do.

I sold some furniture I didn’t want anymore. He was slightly annoyed by this and mentioned he could have given the furniture to someone or sold it for more. It was furniture that was given to me by my family so I felt I had the right to do what I wanted with it. I didn’t tell him I was selling it and one day it was just gone. My cover was that he had been talking about moving for over a year so I was downsizing to make our move easier.

If he had been more aware of what was going on at home he would have noticed that I was donating things I didn't want and packing up anything that was personally meaningful to me. I wanted to make it easier to move my things if it came to that in the end. The interesting thing was that I didn’t think we would get a divorce but all of the things I did the last couple of months before the end made it much easier to do what needed to be done later.

I began to do all of the grocery shopping after I got my license. Each week I shopped at a few stores to take advantage of the sales flyers as he had asked. What he didn’t know was that I got cash back with every purchase and set that money aside in a safe place. I was careful to buy less than usual and take advantage of sales so it looked like I was spending as much as the totals that came up in our bank account. I was able to set aside $500 dollars in a few months just from the weekly grocery shopping.

A friend advised me to pack up my expensive jewelry, birth certificates, social security cards, and other important papers before I left. I stored a box full of these items at her house just in case. When it was time to flee I forgot to take these items with me and would not have been able to apply for food stamps without them. She was able to bring the box to me a week after I left which helped me provide for the children after their father diverted all of his income from our joint account.

After I was at the shelter I was advised to withdraw as much money as I could from our joint account before he moved the money. I waited until there was a large deposit and then took out the daily maximum. I was able to use this money for anything that my food stamps didn’t cover and still had some of the cash by the time I got my first paycheck.

What I Wish I Had Done

I wish I had known about Shipt, Instacart, Doordash, etc and had signed up and started working. I could have had a lot more to rely on when I left and would have gotten back on my feet sooner after leaving.

I wish I had made a safety plan and contacted my local domestic violence organization months before I left. I was clueless and so far in denial I had no idea what I was in the middle of.

I wish I had been able to admit the truth of my life and planned accordingly.

Action Steps

Make your safety plan

Open your own bank account

Start a business or side-gig

Sell things

Get cash out when doing the grocery shopping(hide or discard those receipts!)

Empty your joint account when it looks like the sh — has hit the fan.

Extra Credit

Pack and store important papers at a loyal friend or family member’s home(or storage unit).

Pack and store jewelry and other items you can sell later to help you survive.

Accept any help you are offered by trusted friends and family.


I had no idea the end of my marriage was near when I started setting aside money.

If I could live the last year of my marriage over I would spend it coming out of denial and planning for the future. I would have documented the abuse of me and my children. I would have made audio recordings of the abuser cussing me and the children out and throwing fits. I would have kept a better log of what he did and how he neglected our children.

I cannot go back and change what happened but I can share with others who may be watching their marriage fall apart so they can have a better start on the other side.

If you are in danger please contact your local domestic violence agency or call the National Domestic Violence Hotline 1–800–799–7233

You have the right to live in peace and freedom.





Julia Freeman, Trauma Recovery Coach

I believe survivors of narcissistic abuse and domestic violence deserve to live in freedom and peace.