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Financial expert Suze Orman says women across America are committing financial suicide by not paying attention to money. When she meets with Sylvia to help her through her financial crisis, she quickly learns Sylvia's money problems are a symptom of a deeper issue. "It was a very controlling kind of relationship," Sylvia says. "A lot had to do with money, too. He didn't trust anybody with his money. If we went anywhere together, I had to dress sexy. He wanted me to do everything his way, and I let it happen."

Sylvia says Joe used to tell her she was worthless and was physically aggressive with her. Suze says she suspected Sylvia was in an abusive situation even before they met. "Money will always show what's really going on. How somebody treats their money is just another manifestation of how they treat the people around them. He was abusive to his money," Suze says. "And there's nobody that would cancel an insurance policy three months before they commit suicide without it being a major act of abuse."

Suze helps Sylvia realize that she didn't take his money from him—and that he robbed Sylvia of herself. Sylvia says she tried to leave Joe before, but money always brought her back. "I was afraid, and I felt like I was stuck because he said I couldn't make it without him. I couldn't make it without his money," Sylvia says. "I would always go back because of it."

Suze says women in Sylvia's situation can learn from her mistakes. One of the biggest mistakes women make is staying in an abusive relationship because they don't have the money to leave. The other, Suze says, is trusting that that person will protect you. "Joe owned the insurance policy, was responsible for making payments on it, an insurance policy that would have protected you. You just trusted that of course he was going to protect you," Suze says. "And that was her security blanket. But it was a false security blanket. There was no power there. That was a powerless situation that you had put yourself into."
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FROM: Suicide, Lies, Debt: A Suburban Nightmare
Published on March 14, 2008

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