The following article may contain affiliate links or sponsored content. This doesn’t cost you anything, and shopping or using our affiliate partners is a way to support our mission. I will never work with a brand or showcase a product that I don’t personally use or believe in.
Financial Abuse is a component of 99% of domestic violence cases
Domestic violence is an equal opportunity epidemic –– affecting all genders from all economic, social, and racial backgrounds.
We have heard heartbreaking stories firsthand from our community members and know people in our own lives that have experienced some form of partner abuse. This episode is one of our most highly requested, and we are grateful to today’s guest for sharing this valuable information with us.
In this conversation, Tori sits down with Jan Langbein of Genesis Women’s Shelter in Dallas, TX, to talk about domestic violence –– what it looks like, the common misunderstandings surrounding it, and how to get out or help women in your life get out of these situations.
What classifies as abuse
Why financial abuse so common in domestic violence cases
How to spot the signs of an abusive relationship early
What your options are as a friend or as someone experiencing domestic abuse
Domestic Violence Resources:
Domestic Violence Hotline (or call 800-799-7233)
Tori Dunlap (00:00):
Hello, Financial Feminist. Hello. Welcome back to the show. We’re so excited to see you as always. A reminder to subscribe if you haven’t already. This is the best way to make sure that you’re not missing an episode. You can also leave us a review. You can check out our show notes. You can leave us a voicemail if you have a question or maybe a money win that you want to share with the potential of it being used in the show and used to spark topics of conversation for future episodes.
Speaking of using your resources and using the feedback from our community, today’s episode is an incredibly important one and one that has been requested quite a lot and that we have had on our to-do list for a very, very long time. We’re talking about women’s health all month long here at HFK and Financial Feminist. And of course, we’re not just talking about physical health, but also emotional and mental well-being as well. A heartbreaking one in three women in their lifetime will face some sort of domestic abuse.
We’ve had so many women who’ve reached out, and we’ve heard, unfortunately, countless stories of these women who wish that they knew warning signs, wish they had more resources to leave their abusive partners. We also know that in 99% of domestic violence cases or domestic abuse cases, there is a component of financial abuse. We wanted to learn more about this epidemic, how we can help and how we can make sure that we are advocating both for ourselves and for our friends and family. For 30 years, Jan Edgar Langbein has been an activist in efforts to end violence against women.
Currently as the CEO of Genesis Women’s Shelter & Support, she oversees Genesis’s internal and external operations, as well as funding and community education. Recognized as the national expert on the dynamics and effects of domestic violence, Jan provides expert testimony in court cases and trains law enforcement and prosecutors to enhance their efforts to end violence against women.
In partnership with the Dallas Police Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Jan co-founded the annual national conference on Crimes Against Women, which trains law enforcement, prosecutors, and advocates on the most advanced, cutting edge technologies and strategies in the investigation of crimes against women. Jan is absolutely incredible. And in this episode we dive into topics like how to spot financial, emotional, and physical abuse, where to find help and how to help others in our lives experiencing forms of domestic abuse.
Since financial abuse is, unfortunately again, so prevalent in domestic abuse cases, we also talk about ways in which women can prepare themselves financially against this particular form of abuse and how and why abusers use financial abuse as a tool that keeps women trapped in abusive partnerships. In case it wasn’t obvious, we do discuss abuse in this episode. If you are a survivor of abuse, please take care of yourself and know it’s okay to hit pause or just skip this episode if these topics are triggering or activating for you. And please, if you or someone you know is in an abusive situation, there is help.
Please call the National Domestic Abuse Hotline at 800-799-7233. Again, 800-799-7233. We’ll also post additional links to resources in our show notes. This is one of the most incredible, important episodes we’ve ever done. Yes, a bit of a heavier topic, but so insightful. And even as someone who knows a lot about this topic, I learned so much by talking to Jan. Please take care. Make sure to listen to this episode and share it with the people who need it most. Without further ado, Jan Langbein. Are you in Texas?
Jan Edgar Langbein (03:35):
I am. I’m in Dallas.
Tori Dunlap (03:36):
Okay. My best friend’s from Houston. We have a bunch of people there.
Jan Edgar Langbein (03:41):
Yeah? One of my daughters is in Houston.
Tori Dunlap (03:44):
She lives in Seattle now, but she was born and raised in Houston. It’s been wild. Not only the politics, but the we
ather and the back and forth of the flooding and the snow out of nowhere.
Jan Edgar Langbein (03:57):
Oh, it’s 109 outside, and then freeze, and then again.
Tori Dunlap (04:02):
I was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, and so I have no tolerance for heat. Like none.
Jan Edgar Langbein (04:08):
No one should have to, but it has nothing to do with global warming, I’m sure.
Tori Dunlap (04:11):
Oh, definitely not. I wish there was something we could point to to explain all of this, something like the earth is warming at an warming rate. Crazy.
Jan Edgar Langbein (04:19):
Tori Dunlap (04:21):
Can you tell us a little bit about your background and what you do with your work with the Genesis Women’s Shelter?
Jan Edgar Langbein (04:27):
Sure, Sure, I would to. I love talking about this, and thank you for having me on the podcast today. I am the CEO of Genesis Women’s Shelter & Support, which basically means I’m responsible for the internal and external operations for dreaming the dream and then somehow figuring out how to raise the money and make it happen. I’ve been doing this work for 31 years, which is so strange for me to hear myself say that. The agency was around maybe five to seven years before I came on, and it was a seven bedroom shelter in an old firehouse.
We had about a $350,000 budget, and we’ve built it to full service response with emergency shelter and transitional housing, and school on site and preschool on site, and legal services on site, and non-residential counseling. What went from a $350,000 budget is over $10 million now. Sometimes my board scratches their head and goes, “$10 million?” But I’m like, that’s 10 million promises I am making to women and children who turn to us for help when they can no longer help themselves.
I’m very proud of the team that is here that day in and day out do these miracles, being able to answer the phone and open our doors to women who may have just tipped their toe in the water for the first time, but can come in the front door and go out the back completely different life. That’s a good day at the office. That was a long answer. What was your question? Who am I?
Tori Dunlap (06:06):
No, that’s incredible. You actually just have a record now because I joke that I cry in every episode and you already got me, and we’re like two seconds in. It’s already incredible work. I’m like, okay, I’m so excited to talk about this. To dig into it a little bit, what are some misconceptions people have about domestic abuse and who the victims of domestic abuse are?
Jan Edgar Langbein (06:27):
Right. No, I think that’s a great question, and it’s the same kinds of questions that I get when I’m testifying as an expert witness or at a cocktail party. I think the misconceptions are that it only happens to a certain group of people. Usually that means not anybody that looks like me, so probably uneducated, probably poor, probably minority. These are the myths that surround this. What we know is that it is an equal opportunity epidemic. There’s a myth thinking that, okay, that assault was isolated. It happened once, it’ll never happen again. And that’s a misconception. We know because the studies have shown us that there’s very much a cyclical behavior to an abusive partner’s behavior.
And that basically that’s how I can say, if he hit you once, he’ll hit you again. There’s also misconceptions about who he is that, again, he is probably uneducated and poor and whatever. What we know, Tori, is that this is an equal opportunity epidemic. It knows no boundaries. It happens in the most affluent parts of town, and it happens in the poorest parts of town. The cycle is the same, the dynamics are the same, but there’s so many misconceptions, again, of to whom it happens and to whom it is perpetrated by.
Tori Dunlap (07:45):
Well, I think of like in pop culture, I watched Big Little Lies and read the book, and it was Nicole Kidman’s character who’s this affluent, older white woman being abused by her successful, sexy husband. And that’s going on for years. And not only, of course, happening to her, but her boys are watching it happen.
Jan Edgar Langbein (08:06):
Exactly. And that cycle is continuing. We were lucky enough to have Nicole Kidman as our keynote speaker for our annual luncheon last year, and we talked a lot about that film and how she wanted it to be as real as possible. And after filming all day, she would go home and literally have bruises on her, but knowing that she got to go home to a safe house. It touched her so much to play that role. Maybe that’s unless we really can imagine that it’s us, we can’t understand it. Another misconception that we didn’t touch on was the fact that people think, “Well, then just get out. Just why can’t you leave?”
Again, it’s just not that easy. It can be almost impossible. It can be actually lethal when someone tries to leave the relationship. There’s a lot of myths that surround it, but we have to bust them all. We have to break through all of those and change the conversation.
Tori Dunlap (09:09):
We’ll talk about this a bit later, but a lot of people ask me, why do I do the work that I do? Why is women having money important? And just the statistic that we know that 99% of domestic violence cases have some sort of financial abuse tied to them, that is reason enough why women need money and why women need a financial foundation, because they deserve to be in positions they want to be in rather than forced to be in. And to your point of why don’t somebody just get out, there’s many reasons.
But for me, I know the financial where if someone’s controlling your money, if somebody is not providing you with resources, if you are completely 100% financially dependent on this person, how are you going to get your own apartment?
Jan Edgar Langbein (09:49):
Where are you going to go? Where are you going to sleep tonight? Where will you go tonight with your children? These guys get really good.
Tori Dunlap (09:56):
You can’t afford a hotel room.
Jan Edgar Langbein (09:57):
Yep, exactly. No credit card. He wouldn’t allow you a credit card. Here’s the deal too, there are so many ways, again, because his behavior a pattern of actions that are used to isolate her, that are used to intimidate or threaten his current or former partner. And by the way, I use him because that’s what we see here at Genesis. Yes.
Tori Dunlap (10:18):
I was just about to ask, because I’m assuming we’re using he/him pronouns and I am assuming that the majority of abuse happens by male identifying people towards women, identifying people.
Jan Edgar Langbein (10:31):
Yes, that is correct, on women identifying people. That is the majority.
Tori Dunlap (10:35):
Right. But I imagine this is men can be abused. Obviously, people who are non-binary can be abused.
Jan Edgar Langbein (10:42):
Yep. Men are abused by same gender partners, by women, and all of these dynamics are the same. But I wanted to clarify that because at Genesis, that’s with whom we work are women who had violence perpetrated against them primarily by men. As we were discussing, domestic violence is this pattern of behaviors that are used to isolate and control, intimidate, threaten a partner or an ex-partner. The best way to do it, there are lots of different choices of weapon. I can control you by putting you in a house and locking you in. I can control you what you say and what you wear and where you go.
But the most effective, even more effective than a lock and a key, is financial control, is financial abuse. Let’s look at the more affluent men. The house is in his name. The house in Aspen is in his name. The stock portfolio is in his name, and the cars are in his name. The money that perhaps her mom sent her last Christmas that she hid in the sugar bowl in the back of the pantry, he found it and is gone. When someone immediately just says, “Why don’t you just get out,” that is such an easy question and there are no easy answers. We see so many women. In fact, our numbers really do hold true to what you said, the statistic that has come out, that 99% of all our clients have experienced financial abuse as well.
Tori Dunlap (12:07):
Right, because it would be the escape hatch, right? The easiest way to make sure that they don’t get out is to close the escape patch. We’ve had stories from our community, women have come to us and said, “I could not leave because he put the money in a bank account an hour away, and I couldn’t travel to get the money, or he took credit cards out in my name, but then, A, didn’t give me access to them, and B, tanked my credit score. I couldn’t get an apartment because they’re
going to ask your credit score. They’re going to ask.” It’s all of these things compounding together.
Jan Edgar Langbein (12:43):
Yes. It’s so creative how he can do that. I mean, if he sabotages her jobs, she has a very bad work history. That’s another thing that people are going to look at if you want to rent an apartment, or he put the apartment lease in your name and then he trashed it and that is on your credit as well. Won’t allow you to work, or he changes passcodes on the bank account. Yeah, it’s just so creative, but it’s so effective.
Tori Dunlap (13:13):
You were talking about these cycles of abuse. Let’s take it back to you meet somebody for the first time and you’re starting to date them. What sort of red flags do you see? What sort of patterns are you seeing that someone who’s listening could potentially be like, “Oh, I’ve seen that, or I’m in that, or I know a friend who’s in that?”
Jan Edgar Langbein (13:34):
Right, right. No, that’s an excellent question. I wish there could be a database, please don’t date these guys, and then have a running list. But here’s the deal, it’s so tricky, Tori. It comes on so fast and it’s so charming. He sweeps you off your feet. No one’s ever told me I’m beautiful, and no one has ever treated me like a queen before. But then little by little, there are signs. There are signs and control. There are signs of being very jealous. And maybe, again, that’s flattering, especially to our teens with whom we were. I never had a boyfriend and he just wants me to be with him all the time.
I think if we were engaged, he’d know I love just him. I mean, it just goes on and on and on, and then we get trapped in this web, this web he weaves around us. But the symptoms can be you start to get an uh-oh feeling, but then you back off and you say, you make excuses for it, “Well, he’s under a lot of pressure at work, or I probably shouldn’t have popped off like that. We tend, I think, as women, and I know this is a generalization, to accept the blame for everything. And, “Well, he’s also telling me, it’s your fault. I shouldn’t have pushed his buttons. I shouldn’t have talked to that guy after algebra class. I should have been home when he called me or texted me or FaceTimed me.
I need to show him that I love only him, and I’ll give him all the passcodes to my cellphone so he can see who I talk to.” All of a sudden, you look up and if you could add it all up, then it would make sense. But it’s like being in a house that’s on fire and you’re overcome by smoke. It’s not until somebody yanks you out and sits you on the curb on the other side of the street that you realize, “Oh my gosh, my house was burning down.” I think that’s the same in bad relationships and unhealthy relationships. They are really good at creating them, to be real honest, and getting someone just stuck deeper and deeper and deeper, isolating family, isolating friends, not letting her work.
It’s this pattern. If you ever see the behavior of someone where the survivor literally did get out and, this is kind of rare, that he lets her go and is done with her, but the next person, it’s the same pattern. The way he went about it came on strong, swept off her feet, told her she was beautiful, bought her gifts, and then little by little entrap here.
Tori Dunlap (16:07):
It’s almost like in research around molestation cases. It’s like a grooming that happens, right?
Jan Edgar Langbein (16:13):
Grooming. Absolutely. That’s a perfect word for that. It’s a grooming. Absolutely. Now, some of us are… I heard a police officer tell this story, Tori, where he said, “If someone wants to break into your house and they have the tools and the time and the whatever, they can do it, right?” Then he said, “But if somebody wants to break into a house and he goes to your back door and he sees a lock and a dead bolt and a sticker for the security company, and he looks in the kitchen floor and there’s a big rottweiler sitting there, he’s not going to do that. He’s going to go next door where there isn’t a security system and there’s a crummy lock on the door.”
I think abusers can get good at recognizing who is vulnerable, more vulnerable. What makes that vulnerability? There was never divorce in my family. There has never been divorce. I could have been vulnerable thinking, you just don’t leave a relationship. You stick it out no matter what. I’m smarter than that now, but it could have looked like that, or somebody who’s never had a boyfriend, or somebody who doesn’t have the support system like parents and friends and family and maybe faith or whatever. But it’s interesting, the thing that is the most important to you is what an abuser will use to abuse you.
Let’s say in my life, my children are… Not let’s say, they are. My children are the most important to me. I have two daughters and amazing grandchildren, flawless, amazing grandchildren, and I would not leave without them. That would be what my husband would come after. He would say, “You’re an unfit mother.” He would go to court and call me a drunk and he would say, “She’s not attentive. She doesn’t parent well.” The fear of losing my children…
Tori Dunlap (18:03):
If we’re carrying the Big Little Lies thing through, that’s exactly what happened in season two is they went to court and he with his mother, played by Meryl Streep, were like, “She was drinking. I think she was taking some sort of prescription medication,” and it was like, “She is an unfit mother.” And that’s literally what happened if we’re carrying that pop culture reference through.
Jan Edgar Langbein (18:23):
No, it’s absolutely what happens. Even if I do get out with my children, he’ll come after them in court. He puts on a suit and a tie, like this guy did, and he gets the wonderful grandmother who will stay home and care for the boys, even though she thinks she needs to go to work, right? Yeah, it’s pretty scary. It’s pretty scary.
Tori Dunlap (18:43):
As I’m hearing you describe the sort of patterns, I am thinking to myself, well, that’ll never happen to me. I would know better. I would do better. I think, of course, that’s partially, hopefully, my own self-confidence in the way I’ve built my life, but I think it’s also naivete, right? I imagine somebody’s listening to this episode going like, “Okay, yeah, but this sounds like 1950s like, oh, I’m in a relationship. He’s abusive and I cook for him all the time. That’s just what I do and I can’t get out.” But I imagine, of course, we know that this happens all of the time in 2022, in the 21st century.
Jan Edgar Langbein (19:22):
Tori Dunlap (19:25):
You were talking about controlling, wanting access to the phone, to location. I think about is he threatened that you make money? Is he threatened that you have a separate job or a separate life from him? Can you list maybe 10 very specific examples that someone could go like, “Oh, okay, I’ve had that happen, or I know that’s happened to somebody?”
Jan Edgar Langbein (19:48):
Yeah. I think the number one thing is if you are in a relationship, let’s say one makes more than the other. Let’s say that your partner handles all the bills and all this stuff. The big red flag is, are you afraid to ask that partner about those funds? Can you have a conversation about the relationship’s finances? Can you have a conversation about how you want your money spent, how much money you make, and who’s going to pay what out of that? That’s what normal people do. That’s a good healthy relationship.
But if you’re ever afraid of talking about it, then that is a huge red flag. If you are not allowed access to those records… I mean, my husband pays all the bills at home, but I know exactly where they are. I can go through the MasterCard. It’s there.
Tori Dunlap (20:41):
You know the logins.
Jan Edgar Langbein (20:43):
I do. I do, yeah. Let’s say though an abuser changes those passwords and won’t give you access to those or moves bank accounts. You were talking about this woman who he moved his account far away and she couldn’t get to it, but maybe he takes the money out and you didn’t know it was not there, or it was spent on something. It was my daughter’s college fund, and all of a sudden it’s gone to pay off some gambling debts or to start a new business or whatever and I never knew it. I want to talk with you and see what you think about this. I am amazed at how society can perpetuate that. Again, my husband is a gentle guy, but I put my foot down.
I mean, this is real important to me, this financial independence, even though we have a joint account and we’ve been able to talk about it. But I remember I had not a joint account, it was my own bank account. He wanted to do something. He was thinking he was going to talk to me that night about maybe using it for this or that. He goes up to the bank, they give him the balance. He’s not on the account, and they give him the balance. He said, “Well, I’m thinking about closing it out,” and they said, “Well, you just need to sign right here.” His name isn’t on the account. Oh my gosh! I had my car in the shop last week.
The car’s in my name. It’s my car. The service guy, I was talking to him, and he said, “Well, we found this other thing. It will cost this, but you might want to go home and talk to your husband about it first.” It was probably Friday at 5:00 and I had just had it up to here with power and control. I just said, “Well, why I need to do that? I need to decide whether I want these breaks fixed or not.” Boy, did he do some backtracking at that point. But society just reinforces this… Put your little hands in your little lap and talk this over with your husband. Same thing. I have a retirement account.
Tori Dunlap (22:44):
I mean, it happened to me the other day. I was booking an eye appointment and the person was like, “Do you have insurance?” I was like
yes, and they were, “Do you have insurance through your husband?” Which, one, implies that I am dating or married to a man, which… Well, first, implies I’m married. Period. Two, implies I’m married to a man. Three, implies that, oh, maybe she doesn’t have insurance. She only has insurance because of her partner.
Jan Edgar Langbein (23:14):
Because her man works. Yes, I know. I know. I know. It makes me crazy. We are even aware of those kinds of things. When somebody calls in on the hotline, we don’t say, “What’s your husband’s name?” We just say, “Are you safe right now?” We use very gender neutral terms.
Tori Dunlap (23:32):
I think the interesting thing that we hear that’s a very specific financial example is if you’re in a heteronormative relationship and you go into a financial advisor’s office, this has happened literally, we have hundreds of these stories, that the financial advisor is talking directly to your male partner and does not look you in the eye.
Jan Edgar Langbein (23:54):
Yep. Never looks at you. Never looks at you. Yes.
Tori Dunlap (23:57):
We had a question later about, do you feel like having separate money is something that can prevent some of these domestic violence situations? Do you believe that everyone should have their own separate money?
Jan Edgar Langbein (24:11):
Well, I do. I feel I think everyone should. But here’s the thing, it’s not safe, Tori. It’s not safe for people sometimes for them to have their own accounts. Where are they going to get the money to start opening that account? Let’s say I work. Well, more than likely if I work, every penny of my direct deposit goes into his bank account. I have no say about that and it’s not safe for me to demand that I have this. Now, we see the most amazing, courageous, creative women here at Genesis.
One of the things that I will see them do is start making cash purchases and keeping the change and collecting that and putting it either in a bank account. I mean, we’ve heard it was buried in the backyard and that was going to be my getaway gas money. It’s unbelievable, in a coffee can in the backyard. She’d go to the laundromat.
Tori Dunlap (24:59):
It’s so smart, but it breaks my heart because no person should have to do that.
Jan Edgar Langbein (25:05):
Nobody should have to do that.
Tori Dunlap (25:06):
No person should live in constant fear and having to have that getaway plan.
Jan Edgar Langbein (25:15):
And under the thumb of financial control. I’ve heard affluent women who have… He likes the way she looks on his arm, and so she has a huge wardrobe budget, right? Allowance. When she comes home…
Tori Dunlap (25:30):
You said budget there. Let’s call out that, right? It’s a stipend or a budget. We see that a lot too with abuse cases, is like even if you make your own money, you were then given an allowance.
Jan Edgar Langbein (25:43):
Exactly. You’re given the allowance for these clothes. And a lot of times that is checked with a receipt on the way home. One Hermes scarf, $500. One, blah, blah, blah. But here’s a cool thing I’ve seen women do is once he’s checked it off and everything balances and you give him the change, she takes it to Clotheshorse Anonymous, a consignment store, and sells it, and that money goes in the coffee can or in the bank account. That kind of thing. But if he finds my money that my mom sent me in the sugar bowl and I was punished for that, you can’t imagine what he could inflict on me because he found a bank book or the bank happened to call.
In Big Little Lies, she had done everything right. She went to a lawyer. She set up an apartment. She had a place to go that first night, and the apartment people called and just asked the husband a question about that. That’s what I’m talking about, that unbeknownst, these innocent bystanders are making it worse for women, making it harder for them to come out. We recommend to all of the women with whom we work that there are some things that they can do. We let them know they have the right to have their own money and their own information, including their social security number and driver’s license and birth certificate.
A lot of men will say, especially for battered immigrant women, “I need all those things. I’m going to put them in the safety deposit box,” but she doesn’t have access to that. Well, if you fear deportation or maybe you do have papers, he can threaten you with that. What we recommend is that they can take pictures of everything, their security number, his social security number, bank or credit cards or other financial statements, insurance coverage, because a lot of times these kids are on his health insurance and she needs that information, any passports, any visas.
And then if she can take pictures of things that they own together, like if her name is on the house or if there are cars that are in her name or in both of their names or any other valuable assets, and then store those documents in a safe place. Now, that can be your own box at the bank, but of course, that costs money. But I could leave them at your house. I could email them to you and you would keep them safe for me. Those are the kinds of things that people can do to protect themselves and start building that safety plan. Because I have heard countless women, Tori, go to court. Sure, you can have the dog.
Sure, you can have that old piano your mother left you. Sure, you can even take those no net kids, as some people call them here in Texas, those no net kids, but don’t you touch my money and don’t you touch my guns. That is when she’s in the most danger.
Tori Dunlap (28:38):
I think one of the solutions to trying to prevent this in general is just any woman out there who is entering any relationship, even with the nicest person in the world, you need your own separate money, one, as your escape hatch, but two, you want to be able to buy things that you like without having to counsel your partner. I want my partner to be able to buy things. My dad has his golf money and he doesn’t have to have a family conversation with my mom to go take a golf lesson. My mom’s like, “I’m going to go buy scrapbooking supplies,” and doesn’t have to counsel. And then they’ve decided what is the level of purchase, either monetary or big significant thing.
They’re not going to go buy a car without counseling the other. They’ve decided that and figured that out. Even though they share almost everything, which I personally will never do, but they share almost everything, they still have some separate money, both for the fun stuff of like, “I’m going to go buy this thing, or I’m going to buy you a gift and you don’t know it. You’re not going to see it on a credit card statement,” and then also if, God forbid, something terrible happens, you have an out. You have some sort of money.
Jan Edgar Langbein (29:45):
Right. Right. No, and that even makes sense for someone like me who’s been married a really long time, if I lose my husband, everything shuts down.
Tori Dunlap (29:53):
I mean, that’s a different podcast episode, but the amount of people that we get who are divorced and starting over and they’re like, “I have no money and I don’t know how any of this works because my partner just handled it, typically my husband,” or husband dies, “I don’t know how to navigate any of this.”
Jan Edgar Langbein (30:12):
It’s all frozen. If you don’t have your own… Well, it is here in Texas. I don’t know how it is up there, but it is frozen automatically. You need your own credit card to make funeral arrangements or whatever. But no, it’s so important. I love the fact that you’re having these conversations. You had asked me earlier and you had emailed, would this help diminish abuse if women had their own money?
I don’t think so. I think it’s just a choice of weapon. It helps with that safety hatch, as you called it. But some guys, it’s not about money at all. They choose to abuse another way. It’s a choice of weapon. But it is so important if you ever want to start over, if you ever need a night at hotel, if you ever need to get help. He burns your clothes. What are you going to wear? What are you going to do? He burned your clothes.
Tori Dunlap (31:08):
I can’t help but think, unfortunately, of the shame that I would feel if I was abused. Can we talk more about that? Because we’ve talked, unfortunately, about shame a lot on this podcast. Shame that you don’t know enough about money. Shame that you haven’t started soon enough. But I imagine there is so much shame for these abuse victims.
Jan Edgar Langbein (31:31):
The two crimes primarily where we continue in a hundred different ways to blame the victim is sexual assault and domestic violence. What did you have on? How much did you have to drink? The questions that are asked constantly instead of, why is he a rapist? Who rapes people? Who beats the mother of… One of the questions you had sent me earlier was like, okay, so what can we do about this? Oh my gosh, girl, we have to have conversations just like this. We have to change the conversation from what did she do, what did she wear, why didn’t she just leave, to, why did he do it? What is wrong with someone?
Who decides that they have the right to do this? I heard one of my counselors speaking recently and she was talking about what the thought process is of an abusive person. Number one is they had these three core beliefs. Core belief is no matter what you say to me, you won’t change my mind. You could change my mind on politics. We could have a chat about whatever, and I would be open to both sides. But there are certain core beliefs that I have that you couldn’t change my mind. I believe in Baby Jesus, period. You can’t talk me out of it. But for an abusive partner, a core belief is that I have the right to what I want, when I want it, wherever I want it.
Number two, core belief is my partner is responsible for providing that, and the third core belief is I not only have the opportunity, but the obligation to punish my partner if I don’t have these things fulfilled. You can talk to a guy…
Tori Dunlap (33:14):
That just boils down to control. That is just utter and complete control.
Jan Edgar Langbein (33:18):
Absolutely. Absolutely. But if you so believe that, I don’t think that a session with a counselor is going to change your mind. I don’t think, hey, we’ll go to our pastor and talk about this is going to change your mind. You truly to your core belief that you have a right. I guess we have to start even farther back than that. Who do we entitle? Clearly we entitle producers, the head of the company, the football star. We have seen…
Tori Dunlap (33:51):
Straight white men.
Jan Edgar Langbein (33:54):
We certainly have seen in politics that we will look the other way on so many things, dishonesty, sexual depravity. We will look the other way for lying or sexual depravity or fraud because someone tells us that that’s what we should believe and that they’re entitled to this. Until we can change that mindset… We can do it. I swear, Tori, we can do it. We have changed this country’s mindset on smoking in public, on airplanes, in theaters. We can do it. Friends typically don’t let friends drive drunk. We Uber. We taxi. Things that when I was growing up, never crossed my mind. I would drive home…
Tori Dunlap (34:40):
Seat belts was a big thing.
Jan Edgar Langbein (34:41):
Seat belts. Seat belts, yes. Even if nobody’s going to catch you, you’re going to put that seat belt on. Where are the seat belts for women? Where are the controls for controlling men? It’s got to be a societal paradigm shift if we’re ever going to move this. I got to tell you who I think is very powerful in moving that needle are other men, gentlemen. Here at Genesis, we have an auxiliary group called HeROs, He Respects Others. It is about 200 men who, oh my gosh, they do everything. They come down once a week and they fix dinner for our families out on the grill and they shoot baskets with my little guys.
They put tricycles together for us. They go to court and they sit on the bride side of the courtroom. She turns around and says, “Why would these men care about my life?” Their literal motto is, “I’m not going to do it in my house, but it’s also not okay if you do it in yours. And I’m going to hold you accountable.” Holding another guy accountable is really easy. However, if one man says to another, “You know what? I don’t want to play golf with you. I don’t like how you treat your wife, or I don’t want to do a business deal with you.” There was a time, Tori, when if we were at dinner and somebody used an ethnic slur, let’s say the N word, we would’ve been horrified.
But oh my gosh, I didn’t say anything to that person, right? Now I go to dinner, somebody uses that, I’ll be like that, “I’m offended by that word and I don’t think it has any place here. And I don’t want to have dinner with you.” Why don’t we do the same thing with battered women’s jokes?
Tori Dunlap (36:11):
Or sexual assault jokes. Those are the worst.
Jan Edgar Langbein (36:14):
Sexual assault jokes. Yes, yes. Why don’t we stand up and say, “That’s not funny and I have zero tolerance for that. It’s offensive.” Hashtag it’s offensive.
Tori Dunlap (36:25):
The shitty part of it is, is that coming from a woman, she is difficult or being a bitch, right? Coming from a man though, coming from your bro, your friends who’s going to call you on shit, that for whatever reason is more impactful.
Jan Edgar Langbein (36:39):
Well, they maybe, “Hey, get over it. I was just joking, but he heard you. He heard you. Especially if you’re involved in trying to make it better for somebody else like, yeah, every week I’m down putting Legos together with my little mentee down there. It’s so powerful when men are involved, whether this or human trafficking or sexual assault.
Tori Dunlap (37:01):
We talked a bit about the kind of folks that this can happen to, specifically typically women. What is the difference that you see between, if there is any difference, I imagine there is, between the experience for a white woman versus a woman of color, and then also the experience between someone who’s maybe middle class, upper middle class, affluent versus somebody who’s low income.
Jan Edgar Langbein (37:22):
I think a lot of times, Tori, the dynamics are the same. The amount of money is different. There’s more. I heard recently that someone was saying, “Yeah, it’s harder for a rich woman to get out because they’re walking away from so much.” But here’s the deal, when somebody leaves, they walk away from all. Maybe your all is more than my all and my all is more than her all, but we walk away from everything. To kind of say, “Oh, well, it would be easier for this group or that group,” that’s really not the case. I think more affluent people, perpetrators are better at hiding money. They have more resources or techniques.
I think that is difficult. But also for someone who is let’s say lower socioeconomic, perhaps minority woman, man, she knows how to ride the bus. I don’t know how to ride the bus. She already has a WIC card or food stamps or whatever you call them in your community, whereas I wouldn’t know where to start to go do that.
Tori Dunlap (38:31):
Which is a huge privilege because I’m the same way. I’ve ridden the bus before. But for me, was I to get a food stamp, I don’t know how to go do that. Yep, totally.
Jan Edgar Langbein (38:40):
You’d learn. I know you would learn if you had to. You’re trying to feed your kiddos. But when? Not today, the office is closed after 3:00, or not tomorrow because I have to lose a day’s worth of work. I mean, it’s really, really tough. But if you are already connected with a few social services, then that can give you a leg up, although the flip side of that is you really have no resources socked away, not education, not credit history, not some of the things that would help you get away.
Tori Dunlap (39:11):
Or I was thinking most likely the data shows if you’re affluent, you’re probably friends with other affluent people. You probably would be more likely to have a support system if you were to leave. You can go to somebody else’s house and they do have a spare bedroom or spare two bedrooms, versus if you are lower income, you might be in a lower income community where that’s just not feasible.
Jan Edgar Langbein (39:30):
Okay that you say that, but there was a woman over here, very affluent part of town near our office and literally everything was in his name. When she was ready to go, he said, “You’re walking out with the clothes on your back.” She went to a friend and said, “Can I have first and last month’s rent?” And they were not able to do it. They just didn’t have the means to do that. Both her kids had trust funds and so she called her adult children and said, “Can you help me with this first and last month’s rent?”
They said, “Dad has already called and said if we help you, give you $1, that we will never see our trust fund.” He also went to all of their affluent friends who are family lawyers and put retainers down on all of them so that she… I know. I’m even shocking you, right?
Tori Dunlap (40:17):
I have chills in the worst way.
Jan Edgar Langbein (40:19):
Yes. Yes. That’s what I’m saying. These guys are so resourceful and creative. She couldn’t get an attorney, not even her best friend in Sunday school who’s a family lawyer, who she’s known for 20 years, because the husband has already put a retainer down on that firm and they cannot cover her. Who’s it harder for? I don’t know. It’s just different. It’s just different.
Tori Dunlap (40:42):
Well, and I think we had a question about, unfortunately, when abuse victims of any sort of abuse come forward, they’re often not believed, especially if the man… Again, I keep coming back to Big Little Eyes, but that’s the one example that’s sticking out for me, of like again, he’s like this very handsome, very well liked, very well respected person in the community and they’re like, “Oh, he’s not an abuser.” What can we do to change that perspective?
Jan Edgar Langbein (41:10):
Well, couple of things here, but you’re absolutely right. She’s not believed. Because if it happened, wouldn’t she have said something earlier? Well, no, you didn’t believe me now. Why would I have brought it up earlier? By the way, he seems like such a nice guy. He’s the dad on the soccer field, Tori. He is the guy who’s in church on Sunday morning. He is the successful business guy, the fun guy at the office. The thing that I try to tell all clients, he has said to you, again, I use he, but we’ve cleared that up, he has said to you, number one, no one will hear you. No one will believe you, and no one will help you.
Now, if that is just constantly, every time dinner is late, I smack you, hey, well, don’t be telling anybody because nobody’s going to believe you anyway. I’m the deacon at the church. Who’s going to believe you over me? Nobody’s going to believe you. Nobody’s going to hear you. Who’s going to listen to you anyway? Certainly nobody’s going to help you, so you might as well just forget it. At Genesis, I mean, literally we say at it thousand times a day, I hear you, I believe you, and I am going to help you. And that can be you talking to a girlfriend over a glass of wine. I’ve been in this situation several times where maybe she takes off her sweater and she’s got a big bruise on her arm.
She wanted me to see it, right? If I just ignored it, that is like, I wouldn’t believe you. I don’t want to know. I don’t want to help. But if I can just say, “Are you okay? Are you safe? I want to know why you have that bruise on your arm,” by even asking, I believe her. I believe her. If you told me it was you, I would believe you until I find out otherwise. But I can’t in a million years figure out why a woman would lie about rape, who would lie about sexual assault, who would lie and want to go and be…
Well, Supreme Court Justice nomination put through the ringer, where the doctor, and I can’t think of her name, came forward and said, “I was sexually assaulted. I told the world that and nobody believed me and nobody heard me.”
Tori Dunlap (43:13):
Yeah, Christine Blasey Ford. I am sitting here. You said if somebody is visibly affected, having that conversation, what are other ways that we can help without making it worse? Because I think that’s the fear is it’s like, what if they come after me? What if I put her in more danger if they discover? How do I help in a way that’s not going to actually make it worse or aggravate the situation?
Jan Edgar Langbein (43:45):
Well, you don’t do it in front of him. I have been in a restaurant where he was barking at the wife and pointing the finger and yelling at her and there was this little two year old baby in a high chair. Every time the baby would reach for a basket of chips on the table, he’d smack his hand and then he would keep berating his wife. The baby would reach for one and he’d smack his hand. I’m thinking in my head, oh my gosh, if you hit that child one more time, I’m calling the cops. Had I gone over there to that table and said, “I don’t know what your problem is buddy, but you need to leave or whatever because I’ve just called the cops,” that just makes it worse for her.
Who is she? Did you say something to her? Did you tell her something? I have been known to follow someone into the ladies room. I did that at DFW Airport and I said, “Are you okay?” She was shocked and she wasn’t very forthcoming. I gave her my business card with a National Domestic Violence Hotline on the back. We were going completely different directions. When I came out, I noticed that she gave the card to the husband. It crossed my mind, what if he comes after me? But the thing is, these are cowards, Tori. I don’t want to say they would never hurt somebody else. They want their stuff. They want their property. They want their money. They want their guns.
They want the house to be clean and dinner on the table. I think when someone does hold them accountable, which I did by following her into the restroom, or a police officer holds them accountable, or a judge, or a business associate, they cower. That’s been my experience. I don’t recommend it. I’m just nervy enough to do it. And see, that’s what everybody ought o do. People are saying if you see an abandoned suitcase, see something, say something. Why would I be afraid to go in and say to the security guard at the grocery store, “This guy is smacking his wife in the car. You need to dial 911 right now.” Why would I be afraid to do that? Well, yeah, he may be armed. I may be in physical danger.
Tori Dunlap (45:43):
This was actually a question I had because you said call 911. We’re in different communities, but there is a huge distrust I think everywhere for black folks of the police. Specifically in Seattle, I know that, especially in the last couple years, there has been a huge, huge distrust of law enforcement. Is that the step and what role does law enforcement play in all of this?
Jan Edgar Langbein (46:07):
I think you still have to. We have worked first decades to have police help us with this issue and train them on predominant aggressor and train them on trauma-informed response. We can’t do it without law enforcement. We have burned our lingerie in every state capital in the United States and in Washington, DC to get the
se laws passed. Somebody needs to enforce them. Yes, I understand there’s distrust and I don’t want my husband to go to jail. I don’t want to be the process of that. I don’t want someone coming in and arresting both of us, and I sure don’t want anybody’s knee on my neck. I understand that.
But that has to be community-wide. That has to be a systems review. Man, start letting your voice and your vote be heard. If that chief of police isn’t doing the right job, go to your city council. I just don’t think we give up on this. I really don’t. I cannot shelter enough people if there is no one holding accountable the abuser. It doesn’t matter how many arrests are made. If the DA is not prosecuting and the courts are not sentencing, it’ll never end that way. I can’t have just a response to the survivor if there is not holding perpetrators accountable. It will not stop.
Tori Dunlap (47:26):
Totally. Totally. I think there’s plenty of folks, I’m not an expert on this by any means, but there’s plenty of folks who are either definitely working to reform the police system and/or creating social services, expanding social work, that sort of thing, so that a police officer, who is probably not trained to deal with trauma or deal with an abusive relationship or counseling somebody through, that doesn’t have to.
Jan Edgar Langbein (47:53):
Right. No, you’re exactly right. We don’t do it, but another agency here in town, once there is a conviction or a probation, they can be held accountable to go to Batterers Intervention and Prevention. The jury is still out as far as how effective I think that is. I mean if I steal a car, I don’t get to go to counseling and talk about how I felt when I stole the car. But it’s better than no accountability whatsoever and it’s that peer review. It’s one guy saying, “Man, I almost went to jail over this and I see now it’s my fault,” where the new guy in the room is like, “Oh no, she walked into my fist when I was stretching out my arms.” The other guy’s like, “You are so full of it.”
I’ve been in sessions where I watch them hold each other accountable, which is effective. But yeah, we’ve got a lot of work to do. We’ve got a lot of work to do. There’s so much anger. There’s so much admiration of the anger in this country, men’s anger. I heard women literally tell us during the previous presidential administration where the husband or partner raped her and said it was okay to do because the President of the United States told me I could. Again, any old excuse will do. But when you have someone that doesn’t have any moral character and jokes about it, what do you think that trickles down to, right?
Tori Dunlap (49:18):
Yep. This is the kind of stuff that… When all of us we’re extremely worried and concerned and anxious in 2015-2016 and everybody’s like, “You’re overreacting.” No, no, we’re not overreacting.
Jan Edgar Langbein (49:34):
You’re not overreacting. Uh-huh. No. You’re quarantined with an abusive person. You’re locked in the house with someone who is a rapist or a criminal. Talking about how we continue to turn that tide, if we can at least just angle it a little differently, one of the conventions that came to Dallas, Dallas is a big convention center, and one of them was this XXX porn show that filled the convention center. We went down to city hall and said, “That’s a city owned thing. I don’t want my city benefiting from that and I don’t want my tax dollars going to house something like that.”
Anyway, they were talking about has there ever been an assault at the convention, at these XXX conventions that go around the country? They said no, there’s never been one. Well, of course, there hasn’t. You wait till you get home, until you cash in on the ideas and the whips that you bought there. There are women in jail cells or torture devices. Yeah, I think I’m going to grab some of that.
Tori Dunlap (50:42):
You and I may disagree about this because I’m very sex positive and you might disagree about this, but I think generally as an industry, of course, pornography is very degrading to women. There is certain parts of that industry that I think actually do uplift women where women feel, I hate the word empower, but they feel empowered versus a lot of that industry is yes, degradation.
Jan Edgar Langbein (51:05):
I would say the majority. I’m not talking about pleasure or things that are mutually agreed upon. I’m talking about a woman who gets locked in a cell and is whipped because he wants to do it, right? It’s not that they want to do it. I don’t know how much of this you’d want to use, but I have a friend who does some work with the abuse versus the BDSM community. BDSM, very safe. There are safe words. There are contracts. There are understandings. But to come home and tie up somebody who doesn’t have that understanding or is allowed a safe word, that changes the whole ball game.
Tori Dunlap (51:43):
The allegations around Armie Hammer, who’s an actor, I don’t know if you know Armie Hammer’s work.
Jan Edgar Langbein (51:49):
Tori Dunlap (51:49):
Very involved in the BDSM community, but then either ignored the safe words supposedly, or pushed people too far.
Jan Edgar Langbein (52:00):
It’s a slippery slope. But anyway, all of that, I don’t know, I feel like how do we ever change this? Well, it’s these conversations that you and I are having and speaking with men friends and having auxiliaries like HeROs. We actually put on a national convention on Crimes Against Women every year here in Dallas, about 3,500 people come, law enforcement and prosecutors. I feel like that is a space where you constantly hear, “We need to all be part of the solution.”
Tori Dunlap (52:31):
What are some ways that we can support organizations like yours?
Jan Edgar Langbein (52:35):
Oh, I’m so glad you asked that question, right? Genesis does not receive government funds. All these services I know are relying on people in communities all over the country saying, “What you do matters.” I love a good credit card if people want to make a donation, if they are local, or we even have people send things, clean out your closets. I have a benefit thrift store where our clients get to go and shop for free for anything they need. We had a lady come in the other day, Tori, straight from the hospital. Only had the cotton hospital gown and a cotton blanket off the bed. That’s all she had. That didn’t mean she didn’t come from something, that means that’s all she got out with, right?
We have emergency clothing in the shelter, but then she could go down and shop for whatever she needs or wants at no cost. We can sell an unusable thing like a man’s suit and that money goes straight back into emergency client assistance. We encourage people to make donations to mine or local shelters to volunteer their time and say, “What you do matters,” to support people, to really hear when your friend comes and says, “I’m scared in my own home. I have no money.” Well, of course, you have money. Look at this big house you live in. That just said, I don’t believe you. Be willing to help someone.
A lot of times friends and family do get used up because sure, he sweet talks, or sure, she may go back to him for a hundred different reasons, and a lot of times that uses up friends and family. But places like Genesis, we don’t get used up. There is a National Domestic Violence Hotline, 1-800-799-SAFE. That is available to anybody who wants to call and chat. They can then patch them through to a local service provider who can work with them to get on their feet again. Say you walk out without anything, my advocates… You know what I was saying earlier about I don’t know how to ride the bus, I don’t know how to get food stamps?
Well, I do because I would go over here to my advocate’s office and say, “Here, what do I do?” And that’s what hundreds and hundreds and thousands of clients do when they come here to Genesis. We walk beside them, taking one step at a time, to help them rebuild an abuse-free life. That , my friend, is a good day at the office.
Tori Dunlap (54:53):
Thank you for your time. Thank you for your work.
Jan Edgar Langbein (54:56):
Of course. Of course.
Tori Dunlap (54:58):
You said Genesis, of course. Anything else you want to plug? Where can people find you?
Jan Edgar Langbein (55:02):
If you or someone needs help, Genesis has a 24 hour helpline and text crisis line as well. The number is 214-946-HELP. 214-946-HELP. You can call or you can text that number, and that is answered in English and in Spanish 24 hours a day. There is always someone who will listen. Even if somebody’s calling from Ho-Ho-Kus, New Jersey, we can listen, we can believe you, and we can refer you to help in your community as well. I hope we all can do what we can with what we have and maybe we can turn the tide on these wars that are raged against us.
We need to stand up, let our votes and our voices be heard, have zero tolerance, and hold our elected officials accountable. Thank you for having me. I love chatting with you. And if you’re ever in Dallas, come on down and see us.
Tori Dunlap (55:58):
Thank you. Thank you for your work.
Jan Edgar Langbein (56:00):
This was fun. Thank you. Thank you for yours. I just know this makes a difference, so I appreciate being a part of it.
Tori Dunlap (56:07):
Thank you again to our incredible guest, Jan Langbein, not only for coming onto the show, but also for her incredible work. You can find ways to support the organizations that she has founded or leads linked in our show notes. Again, I want to give you the Domestic Abuse Hotline, 800-799-7233. There is help. Please know that you’re not alone and please know that you are so loved and supported. This doesn’t have to be the end for you. This isn’t something that is inescapable. There is help and there is support. If you are experiencing this, please know that we are here to support you at HFK and there are so many incredible organizations out there that can provide support and resources for you.
As always, Financial Feminist, if you enjoyed the show, please share it with others, especially these episodes that talk about these societal issues. You don’t know that this might actually help somebody when you share it. These are the kind of episodes that we know end up changing people’s lives. We appreciate your support of the show and supporting episodes like this. As always, we can’t wait to see you back here. Thank you for your support and we’ll talk to you soon. Thank you for listening to Financial Feminist, a Her First $100K podcast.
Financial Feminist is hosted by me, Tori Dunlap. Produced by Kristen Fields. Marketing and Administration by Karina Patel, Olivia Coning, Cherise Wade, Alena Helzer, Paulina Isaac, Sophia Cohen, Valerie Oresko, Jack Coning, and Ana Alexandra. Research by Ariel Johnson. Audio Engineering by Austin Fields. Promotional graphics by Mary Stratton. Photography by Sarah Wolfe. And theme music by Jonah Cohen Sound. A huge thanks to the entire Her First $100K team and community for supporting the show. For more information about Financial Feminist, Her First $100K, our guests, episode show notes, and our upcoming book also titled Financial Feminist, visit herfirst100k.com.