Getting Screwed In My Divorce Turned Me Into A Feminist

It was the first time I felt at a disadvantage being a woman.

upset woman looking at divorce papers Antonio Guillem | Shutterstock

My husband and I were chatting about finances. We had a big expense coming up so I suggested we take it out of our savings. After nearly two decades, he had taken over our finances. Prior to this, I managed the money for our home, business, rental properties, and investments.

"It’s all gone," said my husband.

"What’s all gone?" I asked.

"Our savings," he said.

"Are you kidding me?" I announced with shock and disbelief.


"No," he said "It’s all gone."

"How is that possible?" I asked. "How could you possibly have rifled through that much money?"

RELATED: The Mistake That Made Me Extremely Financially Vulnerable In My Unhappy Marriage

I didn't realize it, but I had provoked my husband with this comment. I witnessed his obviously seething anger but I didn't understand what was behind it.

"That's my money," he said angrily.

I was speechless.

Honestly, I thought I had made a huge mistake allowing my husband to take over the finances. I thought he had mismanaged our money. I thought he was going through some type of midlife crisis. I struggled to make sense of it.


The actual reality was something entirely different.

My husband had taken over the finances during our marital problems.

He systematically emptied out all of our savings and investment accounts and funneled money from our business elsewhere. He lied, cheated, and stole to leave me with nothing in the event of a divorce. 

I should have realized this when he was furious and referred to it as 'my money,' but I naively dismissed it because I was unaware of men like this.

But something else transpired during that conversation.

It was the moment a feminist was born.

A devious man methodically and manipulatively took advantage of his wife because she was a stay-at-home mother. An abusive man mistreated a woman because he thought he could. A ruthless man attempted to dominate a woman. That man was my husband.


Throughout my entire life, I never once felt at a disadvantage being a woman, not personally or professionally.

I knew men like this existed but I had never encountered them in any aspect of my life. Scratch that. I had known men like this but they had never impacted me.

If I knew a guy like this socially I would keep them at a distance. If I knew a man like this in the workplace I wouldn't work for them or alongside them. I preferred men who respected women — who wouldn't? I thought had too much self-respect to ascribe to anything less.

RELATED: How To Recognize Financial Abuse In A Marriage

This is why in my own life, I was naively unaware of men like this. Not because they didn’t exist — but because I didn’t believe I had allowed any of them into my world, let alone, that I had married this type of ruthless human being.


Things in my marriage got far worse after that kitchen exchange: My husband announced the place 'a woman' held in his life and made it clear I was somehow 'less than' or subservient to him.

A brutally long and abusive divorce followed.

I was reminded over and over again what my ‘place was’ in marriage and in society.

I was a stay-at-home mother.

I had no value. I wasn’t significant. I wasn’t professionally or financially relevant. I wasn’t equal. I wasn’t a strong contributing woman.

I was a "taker" who had supposedly been luxuriously taken care of by a man. I was to be under-monetized and cast aside. I was a stay-at-home mother that had a divorce expiration date.


I had not been in an egalitarian relationship as I had thought. I wasn’t a part of an emotional democracy.

In our ensuing divorce, there would be no marital break-even, I was on the losing side for leaving a man.

I was a woman living in a man’s world.

And that type of woman was told that she should feel lucky, as my husband once put it, " that I'm being generous with you."

His version of generosity? I was left with zero savings and zero retirement after decades of marriage.

After leaving my job to build a business with my husband, managing our rental properties, and all of our finances for nearly two decades my husband manipulated and lowered the business income to leave me with a monthly payment of approximately one-third or less than what it should have been.


He ruined my credit to make it appear as if the business was doing poorly so I don't even qualify for any type of significant credit in the event of an emergency.

RELATED: My Husband Took Out Two Credit Cards In My Name During Our Divorce

A man destroyed me financially.


The worst kind of man a woman could ever meet, let alone mistakenly and unfortunately attach herself to.

I'm not a man-hater. I come from a family of extremely good men and I know a lot of good men. Like I said, I thought I had avoided the type of men that would turn me into a feminist. I had never encountered any reason or disadvantage personally or professionally to think otherwise.

Until I dared to leave an insecure, weak bully I had once exchanged vows with.

Getting screwed in my divorce turned me into a feminist.

Because I never allowed a man or society to mistreat me for a job that I had done very well.

Divorce didn't change my personal, marital, parental, familial, and professional contributions — even if there are some prehistoric abusive husbands who think otherwise and antiquated societal attitudes that devalue the tremendous amount of work and dedication of stay-at-home mothers. The women who not only raise children but volunteer and hold up the infrastructure of our schools, hospitals, communities, and charities.


If only I had known I had married a ruthless human being.

A gluttonous taker that lacked any respect for a woman.

RELATED: I Feared My Controlling Husband Would Harm Me If He Didn't Get All The Money In Our Divorce

Colleen Sheehy Orme is a national relationship columnist, journalist, and former business columnist. She writes about love, life, relationships, family, parenting, divorce, and narcissism.