TIme to go
March 28, 2015 8:43 AM   Subscribe

Time to move out, my friends. I realized I'm being threatened to be disowned again. However, unlike the other times I think the other person might be serious this time around. So tell me about all the resources needed and how fast can I leave?

Profile: Under 25, some college debt ($15k), incomplete college degree (left due to lack of funding/commute), have pet cat, some medical conditions and in therapy, NY-area, own driver's ID, declared Independent and no savings (long story).

The reason I have no savings because family decided I don't need money and took every birthday/holiday gift ever. I have searched for jobs locally and online. I'm planning to go into IT and studying for my A+ cert until this happened. Great.

I can't rely on relatives because they are estranged/non-responsive. I don't have friends because I'm technically in limbo not being in college/work force. Most of interaction is online but my mother is threatening to cut me off completely too.

The reason for everything is how I quit my part-time job with my abusive mother who was the manager of a family business. She decided to cut me off, take away all internet/communication privileges, healthcare, and finance. Any advice or help would be appreciated thanks.

p.s. I'm on my LTE right now so it might be slow for me to reply. Thanks.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (22 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
This is not good long-term advice for dealing with abuse, but especially if you're living with her and you have no funds at the moment, I *hate* saying this, but it sounds distinctly like your best bet is to apologize to your mother--even though you've done nothing wrong, you don't have to feel it--and ask if you can have that job back. Then start putting money into an account your mother doesn't have access to, and looking for another job, and as soon as you have even just a couple hundred bucks then your options will start opening up for getting out. In particular, start calling staffing agencies, a lot of clerical work now doesn't get hired directly but goes through them, and I think in a lot of ways they're better at dealing with people coming out of weird situations than most employers.
posted by Sequence at 9:09 AM on March 28, 2015

You are in an abusive relationship. Contact your local abuse crisis line and they can help you formulate a plan.

As later step, you can probably sue the shit out of your mother and the business for not paying you. The thing about doing work is that your employer is legally obligated to pay you.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:03 AM on March 28, 2015 [31 favorites]

Well, you are a tenant in your home, and your mom can't simply "kick you out" without going through a large amount of bureaucracy to do so legally. So your best bet is to secure your important possessions and find a job in some kind of retail/food service capacity, saving all your money so you can move out ASAP, and basically call your mom's bluff. Meanwhile go to the local library for internet access and other needs such as updating your resume.
posted by deanc at 10:04 AM on March 28, 2015 [3 favorites]

Reach out to your estranged relatives, who I am guessing are estranged because of your mom. You may be able to bond over her crappiness. If you are really lucky one of them may want to help you just to get back at her.
posted by Sophont at 10:05 AM on March 28, 2015 [4 favorites]

Also, echoing feckless, you may want to contact the NY Department of Labor to report wage theft.
posted by deanc at 10:07 AM on March 28, 2015 [5 favorites]

1) You can get more information about local services and resources from the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE), which also offers information online about leaving an abusive relationship.

2) Going back to school may help resolve a lot of your immediate concerns, including housing and basic financial assistance. Moving into on-campus housing could eliminate the commuting barrier to continuing your education. For example, several SUNYs offer housing for older students that are on campus or close to campus. Your therapist may be able to write you a letter that allows you to bring your cat as a service animal. Contact the school's financial aid office and residential life office for more information. You may qualify for Pell grants, and it sounds like you also qualify for Food Stamps, as well as work study jobs while you are in school.
posted by Little Dawn at 10:07 AM on March 28, 2015 [5 favorites]

When you start looking for places to live, you will obviously want one where your cat can live with you. In the meantime, animal rescue organizations in your area may offer temporary foster situations that can safely care for your cat if you are in a crisis. Or you may have a friend or acquaintance in the area who will board your cat for a few weeks--it is worth asking, if this becomes necessary.
posted by Hypatia at 10:09 AM on March 28, 2015 [4 favorites]

Stop worrying about the reasons (and don't reply to every person here with all the reasons you can't do whatever - it's not how Ask works, and you need to stop and listen anyway); many 25-year-olds find themselves on their own with no support, limited education/work history, and unsustainable living circumstances. You don't mention having children, so that makes it easier.

This is domestic abuse, it qualifies even when it's a parent, and so you should contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline (do this away from the house, obviously) at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) to talk to an adviser about resources in your area for shelter, and for health (physical and mental) services.

Hardest fact: you need to re-home your cat if you can't leave it at your mother's home. You need to prepare for a year or more of being unreliably homed at best and semi-homeless at worst. Shelters won't take your cat, and unreliable roommates can be...not nice.

Whittle down your important possessions to a bag you can keep on you, or locked in a locker or car trunk, at all times. You'll need just enough clothes to be presentable for interviews, and it should be the easiest-care clothing possible so a laundromat or shelter laundry will suffice.

Find a job. You're 25, nobody expects you to have an expansive work history, just start applying. If pressed, do not give excuses, just say you've been working for the family business and *sad smile, shrug* sometimes the family business is not a good place to be.

Move into a shelter if you are forced to leave or if your resources continue to be taken away. Otherwise find anywhere else to live, rent a couch or a floor from someone if you have to, once you have a new job.

This is just...what you do. All the concern about why things are like this or that is not helpful, it doesn't change the fact of your circumstances. Deal with those, get out of that house and into somewhere where you're allowed to keep your paychecks, get help, get some stability, and *then* start fixing up the damage done once you're safely away from the source.
posted by Lyn Never at 10:09 AM on March 28, 2015 [39 favorites]

It's awkward as she filed taxes saying I am independant and "worked" but in reality I don't get paid.

That's not awkward, she broke the law.

Abusers do this thing where they make you feel responsible for all the shitty things they've done. You are not responsible for the shitty choices she has made. Repeat this to yourself until you believe it.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:15 AM on March 28, 2015 [32 favorites]

For the tax thing: You say she filed taxes saying you worked, do you mean she filed a return in your name, showing income? If so, if you can document that you weren't actually paid, but she recorded payroll for you--that would almost be the ideal situation, because you could file an amended return and get money back and have some starting cash for other plans. But I'm not totally sure what you mean, because making payroll deposits without having paid you a check seems illogical. But there's no such thing as "independent" for tax purposes--there are some reasons she might not have filed with you as a dependent, if that's what you mean, that don't really have anything to do with whether you live with her. (If you want to MeMail me about this, I have been a tax preparer, I'm not yours but I can give you some general advice with a bit more info.)
posted by Sequence at 10:19 AM on March 28, 2015 [4 favorites]

For all of the potential legal issues identified here (e.g. whether you are a tenant, tax issues, wage theft, possible crimes), please Get A Lawyer before taking any action, including mentioning anything to your mother. For example, it may be illegal to threaten criminal charges in an attempt to obtain a financial benefit.

You may qualify for free or low-cost legal assistance, and you may be able to get free legal advice by telephone from a legal aid organization or from a lawyer offering free first consultations.

It is possible that the financial abuse you describe may put you at legal risk - it's part of how these situations tend to work. Please obtain confidential legal advice about how to protect yourself from possible liability.
posted by Little Dawn at 10:48 AM on March 28, 2015 [9 favorites]

Most importantly, get away from your mother. Her goal has been to confuse you, and to eradicate the truths of your life. Get away from her and the world will begin to clear itself up a little bit. You may find that some of the impossible seeming hurdles you thought you faced are not so bad after all. She had a vested interest in keeping you down. I promise, things will get better the further away from her you get. Good luck. As a survivor of abuse myself I can tell you, your life can and will be SO MUCH better than it is right now. Don't give up, you can do it.
posted by WalkerWestridge at 11:19 AM on March 28, 2015 [3 favorites]

I am assuming you're in the USA.

File for SNAP/Food Assistance ASAP.

Check with your state's Healthcare Exchange, and see what your options are. You may be able to qualify for Medicaid.
posted by spinifex23 at 11:21 AM on March 28, 2015 [3 favorites]

she filed taxes saying I am independant and "worked" but in reality I don't get paid.

Did her business file taxes that included fake labour costs? Holy crap, I don't know exactly how you use that to help yourself, but it's a huge deal in terms of her own legal situation. At least the IRS and possibly whoever deals with white collar crime would be interested in this.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 11:24 AM on March 28, 2015 [8 favorites]

This controlling of your finances and ability to leave is the DEFINITION OF DOMESTIC ABUSE.

Go to a shelter. Get guidance. You will get no more money from her, so stop working. Pack up everything and go. Consider everything you can not take, lost.

I'm so so sorry. Having been where you are, the sooner you stop trying to make it work and cut ALL contact, the sooner you will be on your way to a degree, employment, stable housing.

Run. Run. Run.

Post about your cat. Maybe someone can foster your pet while you get help and get out. Good luck. My best wishes to you.
posted by jbenben at 11:24 AM on March 28, 2015 [4 favorites]

Just want to add another voice saying this IS abuse, you ARE strong enough to get out, and I wish like heck I wasn't on the other side of the country, because I'd babysit your cat for you.

You're not going to fix this with your family, and it's not your fault. Use the resources offered, that's what they're there for, and start taking steps.

It's ok that you have no money. There's food stamps and healthcare (both physical and mental) for people in your situation. Take that helping hand and pull yourself out of this mess! (And use the mental healthcare available to help you reframe what has happened to you, because her actions are NOT ok.)

Many, many (((hugs))) and good luck!
posted by stormyteal at 11:45 AM on March 28, 2015 [2 favorites]

Housing: maybe she can't legally kick you out of the house, but --- considering how fast & loose she plays with paying your salary and filing taxes and all --- I could easily see her changing the locks without warning, and not letting you in even to get your personal property out. So: get your stuff out now, even if it means you have to rent a storage unit to do it. Get out your cat and anything else you don't want to lose: basically only leave things you wouldn't mind never seeing again. Get your cat, your personal papers (birth certificate etc.), your phone and your computer out of her reach.

Housing part 2: maybe look on places like Craigslist for people looking for roommates --- staying with total strangers sounds far better than staying with a known abuser like your mother.

Your pay: Did she give you a W-2 form (which all employers are required by federal law to send to all employees no later than the end of January each year), and if yes then did she actually pay you what it says she paid? If not, or if she never even gave you that W-2, talk to a lawyer, maybe at a free legal services clinic, to see about forcing her to pay you what she owes.

Stay strong: you're on the right track, don't let her browbeat you back into her control!
posted by easily confused at 12:21 PM on March 28, 2015 [5 favorites]

Depending where you are in therapy, if you're at a community mental health center, you can see about engaging a case worker in helping with low cost housing. If it is part of your treatment, there are often housing vouchers that help make the costs way less for rent, or take care of it altogether for a while. If you're seeing somebody somewhere else, you can still start at CMH and get in touch with a case worker.
posted by gilsonal at 1:08 PM on March 28, 2015 [1 favorite]

I would advise against busting your mom for white-collar crime until you and your cat are safely out of her house.
posted by moonlight on vermont at 1:46 PM on March 28, 2015 [13 favorites]

My guess is that the reference to being reported as "independent" means "independent contractor" and a 1099 tax form. Independent contractors don't receive W2s, and they typically owe taxes instead of being eligible for a refund.

There may be a free tax preparation clinic in your area that can help you obtain your tax documents if you do not have them in your possession - your local domestic violence agency likely knows where these resources are, and you may need this kind of documentation when applying for things like student loans and grants. If you learn that another layer of the financial abuse includes that you owe taxes, please do not panic, because there are payment plans available.

You may also want to ask your local domestic violence agency about where you can safely store your important documents (e.g. birth certificate, Social Security card, tax documents, financial aid applications, etc.), and whether they can help you get your own phone through a program like HopeLine.

Also, please note that "Just tell your mother you will report her for payroll and tax fraud unless she pays you every dime she claimed to have paid you in her tax filings" may be considered extortion and very illegal, so please talk to a lawyer about what your options actually are for negotiations or other legal action.
posted by Little Dawn at 2:05 PM on March 28, 2015 [6 favorites]

Were you planning to go to a university where students live on/around campus, or were you planning on going to a commuter type college?

If the former, a lot of this will work itself out in September. Have you applied to schools? Start doing it. Have you filled out the fafsa for financial aid? Do it now, even if you're not 100% sure you're going to school in the fall. Are you 24? You can do the fafsa as an independent, without your parents info.

Something else you could think about would be working at a summer camp this summer. I hesitate to suggest it because you won't get out of your mom's house until early summer if you go that route, but it's an easy way to get a roof over your head for a few months and a couple thousand in your bank account (where as if you move out and do the min wage thing it will be tough to build that up). Me mail me if you'd like more thoughts on working in summer camps and getting a job at one.
posted by geegollygosh at 6:14 AM on March 29, 2015

This is both a PSA and another idea for local resources that may be able to assist you. In this recent webinar about "transition-age youth" at risk of homelessness, Raven Smith, a Homeless Youth Program Director in Pueblo, CO, mentioned that his program works with people up to age 25, and that typically, a homeless youth is mugged within 2-3 days of becoming homeless, and loses everything they own, including their ID.

A youth drop-in center may be a place where you can get case management services, including assistance with applications and referrals to additional resources. NYC has a page with links to a variety of resources, including shelters, drop-in centers and transitional independent living programs.

Also, the State University of New York has a single application that you can use to apply to multiple campuses. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is here.

You may still have time to enroll for the summer session at a college - it looks like the FAFSA can be submitted through June 30, 2015 for the 2014-2015 school year, although this FAFSA website also says to check with the schools that you are interested in attending. When you speak with a financial aid office at a college, please be sure to also ask about the Perkins Loan program. Please also note that even if a program talks about using family income for an application, there may be exceptions to that rule that you likely qualify for. The college financial aid office can likely assist you with this.
posted by Little Dawn at 9:19 AM on March 29, 2015 [3 favorites]

« Older World's Best Men's Robe?   |   Regional Cocktails Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.