Ask Demetria: Should I Meet Up With An Abusive Ex Who Owes Me Money?

Dear Demetria:

“A guy I was in an abusive relationship with owes me money. We lived together and he didn’t uphold his part of the bills. We got evicted. He says that he will pay back the money, but only if I see/meet up with him. What are your thoughts? (He owes thousands.)” —Anonymous

The money isn’t worth meeting up with him. If he really wanted to do the right thing, he wouldn’t hold stipulations over your head for him to do it. He knows he was wrong for not paying the bills over time (and it was a long time, because a landlord has to get a court order to have someone evicted, and that’s not a simple or short process). And he knows he owes you money. If he only wanted you to have the money and just wanted to be an upstanding guy on the back end, he would put a check or money order in the mail, send the money via PayPal or transfer it to your account.

He’s still playing games with you. Saying he’ll only do X if you do Y is just another way to manipulate and control you, which I’m sure he made a habit of doing throughout the abusive relationship.

But I get why you may want to meet with him. “Thousands” of dollars is nothing to scoff at, and if the situation got to the point where you were evicted, you didn’t have the funds to cover the bills on your own. I’m guessing that you spent what you had to stay in your place and came up short. And if you were evicted, you need the money he owes to get back on your feet. You probably also still care about him, despite the abuse.

Your best course of action is to gather what evidence you have that he owes you money and take him to small-claims court. If you insist on meeting up with him—and I do not suggest that you do—it needs to be in a public place (like a police station). And take with you the biggest man you have in your life—someone who will intimidate your ex and make him think twice about being abusive.

Under no circumstances should you meet with your ex alone. Again, to be clear, I prefer that you not go. Your safety is worth more than the money.

If it sounds as if I’m making a big deal about this meet-up, it’s because I am. At best, you’ll meet up with him and he’ll try to sweet-talk you into reigniting the relationship. Maybe he’ll apologize to you. And just maybe you’ll actually get the money he owes. At worst, he’ll become abusive during the encounter.

The most dangerous time for a woman in an abusive relationship is when she leaves it. In domestic-abuse cases, 70 percent of the violence happens after the woman leaves the relationship. A friend shared with me something that happened to a friend of hers: “The guy asked to see her to talk. He shot her four times, then killed himself,” she said. “Thank God she survived.”


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