It’s every woman’s nightmare — when the bliss of falling in love is marred by the trauma of falling for a scam.
The reports and stories exist of men targeting and conning successful single women all in the name of love. So how can you protect yourself — or help a friend who has fallen victim?
We speak to two professionals for advice.
Recently, Amakove Wala, a health practitioner and mother of four who has a large following on Facebook, took up the hashtag #MeToo to spark a conversation on women getting conned in the name of love.
Hundreds of women responded with accounts of ‘love fraud’ or financial abuse from men who were their lovers, friends or even acquaintances.
The thread revealed the reality of financial abuse and the trauma of shaming that follows once victims go through such ordeals.
Perhaps, one of the most tragic things about such experiences is that the victims do not know where to go and what to do after realising that the bubble they had puffed up in their hearts of a happily-ever-after would soon burst. When that happens, there is no one to offer a soft landing for the emotions.
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The worst comes when family and friends find out and, instead of empathising, they become experts who delve deep into discussing what a foolish decision you made. How could you not have seen the red flags? What were you thinking letting things get that far?
How do empowered and independent women fall for such trickery?
According to Monicah Kagori, a counseling psychologist, “conmen understand the vocabulary to a woman’s heart. They have a sweet tongue. They work at mastering the art of creating a level of believability in their narratives and watch to see how much they can get away with.”
Kagori notes that when it comes to the emotional needs of women, professional certification matters little. It is hard-wired in every woman to long for emotional fulfillment and, if that void is not well-addressed, it can result in poor judgement.
The counselling psychologist adds that this calibre of men always prey on some emotional void or wound that the victim has never dealt with.
“Conmen often search for any sign of desperation and capitalise on the same to milk their victims dry. If a woman never stops long enough to search within herself to find out the root cause of the desperation and how it can be dealt with in a healthy way, she is bound to make regrettable decisions,” Kagori says, adding that it is prudent that women conduct background research before investing emotionally in romantic relationships.
How does one balance between supporting a partner/spouse and being financially prudent?
According to Kagori, issues in relationships that concern money are beyond the money. They stem from issues of a lack of alignment where values, beliefs and principles are concerned.
“A good place to start as you evaluate a potential partner is to evaluate whether you are aligned,” Kagori says. “The reality is that money is tied to our deepest emotional needs. Our need for love and acceptance, self-worth, power, security, independence and even happiness. So, when a woman gives her spouse/partner money, she’s giving so much more than money. She’s giving so that she can receive love, support, acceptance, and demonstrate her complete devotion to this man and his dreams.”
Kagori explains that people have different relationships with money and for that reason, conflict arises in marriages where finances are concerned.
“I strongly believe that couples need to have high levels of accountability where finances are concerned. No one partner should be left to run with things entirely independently. You both need to be involved in the management and investment of money, and be aware of what is being done, why, with whom and how,” she says.
Kagori says she encourages every woman to participate and be involved in all decisions that concern their home, assets and management of finances.
“Invest in growing your financial IQ so that you can evaluate opportunities and make informed decisions or reach out to consultants where you need help. Take an interest; learn about money and how it works,” she says.
Kagori warns that if one has not grown their knowledge in this area, he or she will not be in a position to make a wise decision.
“Become familiar with the different types of assets and financial products available. Learn how to evaluate investment opportunities, and you will be of great value to yourself, and your family,” she says.
She adds that as couples acquire property, businesses and other investments while in marriage, they should do it jointly. In the case of the demise of either of you, the investment will be transferred to the living spouse.
“I do not encourage a spouse to take a loan in their name on behalf of their partner’s business. This is something that you can only do if you fully understand the opportunity that you are exploring, have seen the documentation such as a business plan or confirmation of the order such as LPO, understand the risks and are okay proceeding with it. In addition, you must be involved in the business opportunity and have a level of ownership in it,” she advises.