Digging to Roam

Student debt made the domestic violence against me worse

Two people shadows
Shadows by Imane Boudadi

Amount of debt: $85,000

Source of debt: College

Estimated time till debt free: Decades

Debt wasn’t something I could talk to my boyfriend about. In fact, there were many topics that were too dangerous to broach – that was just one of them. The red flags had been popping up all over the place. A healthy person doesn’t snap at someone for chewing too loudly or too fast. Getting your hand slapped for trying to show a funny YouTube clip isn’t normal. And being in debt shouldn’t result in bruises. But it did.

The first time my ex-boyfriend got violent, we were both graduate students living in Britain and had been together for less than a year. He violently shoved me and then acted like he didn’t mean it and that it couldn’t have hurt. Moments later he did it again. Nearly yanking my arm out of the socket, he threw me down the hallway.

I yelled at him that I would tell everyone, surely someone in the building had heard. He said it wasn’t a big deal and somehow convinced me that I had concocted the story in the midst of a panic attack. Being in this relationship was hard, and debt made it all the more difficult.

I had accrued over $85,000 in debt over the course of six years. Around $5,000 of that was credit card debt, and the rest was entirely education debt from undergraduate and graduate school. I had scholarships, but they barely scratched the surface of reducing the financial burden.

He was from Europe and didn’t have to pay a dime for his undergraduate degree. But I couldn’t talk about my debt because my boyfriend would berate me for going to college when I didn’t have the money to pay for it outright. He would yell and blame everything on me and my financial instability. That’s when I created filters to block emails from my student loans and credit cards, because my economic woes were too dangerous a topic to risk breaching.

One of the worst fights broke out when I purchased tomatoes from a slightly more expensive store than the one he told me to go to. He stood in the doorway of the living room, repeating the same phrase over and over: “I pay your life! Why didn’t you learn the first or second time?”

Keep reading on The Guardian

Published 18 October 2016
By Kristance Harlow

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