Serena Williams Discusses Financial Abuse—Here Are Strategies to Fight It

Equally as important as educating women about recognizing the signs of financial abuse is giving them the skills to protect themselves from it.

Serena Williams
Serena Williams. Manny Carabel/Getty Images

Tennis great Serena Williams recently made headlines for urging women to recognize financial abuse, which is often one of the first signs of dating violence and is present in 99% of domestic abuse situations. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, more than one in four women in the U.S. are victims of domestic abuse. Just last month, Eva Longoria also highlighted the gender pay gap for Latinas and black women, which also serves to undermine efforts to prevent financial abuse.

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“Not being able to use your credit cards, having to show receipts for every little dime that you spend, having freedom of choice taken away from you. Those are all signs,” Williams told Woman’s Day during National Domestic Violence Awareness Month earlier this year. “It’s important to use my voice to shine a spotlight on the barriers women can face when they’re trying to leave.”

SEE ALSO: Q&A With the Ex-HR Chief Who Closed Salesforce’s Gender Pay Gap

Equally as important as educating women about recognizing the signs of financial abuse is giving them the skills to protect themselves from it. This is why the messages and strategies outlined in my new book, Holistic Wealth: 32 Life Lessons to Help You Find Purpose, Prosperity and Happiness, are so important to teach women how to create an empowered financial identity that protects them from abuse, boosts their confidence and leads to improved mental, emotional and spiritual health. A key part of this strategy is embracing a “Holistic Wealth Mindset™,” and this stems from the “Holistic Wealth Method™,” which I’ve also developed.

Here are 5 strategies women can use to prevent financial abuse:

1. Embrace the Holistic Wealth Method

The “Holistic Wealth Method” is a framework I developed for assessing your actions and decisions. In applying the Holistic Wealth Method ask yourself: Will this decision be a withdrawal from or a deposit to my holistic wealth bank account? Approaching life with a holistic wealth mindset means approaching life mindfully and with the realization that each decision and each action represents a withdrawal from or deposit to that holistic wealth bank account. Repeated withdrawals from the holistic wealth bank account will lead to bankruptcy.

Similarly, there are some actions that act like compound interest in a holistic wealth bank account, like listening to your intuition and lifelong learning—the benefits of these actions multiply over time in many different areas of your life. The Holistic Wealth Method can be applied in everyday situations regarding a range of daily decisions. For example, in assessing if a decision will add to your holistic wealth bank account, think about the vision of your life going forward and what you truly want for yourself. If you have toxic relationships that lead to financial abuse, then ask yourself if keeping these relationships is a deposit into or a withdrawal from that bank account. Likewise, in thinking about your current spending habits, daily eating regimen and the amount of time you spend on social media, examine how these actions add to (or take from) your overall holistic wealth.

Holistic wealth is about having an intentionally designed life—so changing your mindset is key to ensuring you can achieve it and overcome any setbacks, like domestic and financial abuse.

2. Develop Your Own Financial Identity

Financial independence is one of the core concepts of living a holistically wealthy life. There are several strategies to get you to a place where you have enough income to pay your living expenses for the rest of your life without having to depend on anyone else. Whether this means retiring by the age of 40, or taking a more traditional route, building your financial portfolio depends on having your financial identity. Here’s an excerpt from Holistic Wealth:

A well-planned future also starts with developing your own financial identity. One way to do this is through financial literacy. Improving your financial literacy is also the greatest stimulant of wealth. Many of us make our first large purchase with a spouse or significant other. The first house, the first car, the wedding and honeymoon—these are all expenses tied to our expansionary years. We therefore transition into adulthood not having gained a full sense of our own personal financial identity. For instance, what is my investment identity? What are the things I will splurge on versus save on? This can also be tied to our values and mission in life. It is highly individual. Each of us should have a financial identity—one that is distinct and separate from our spouse’s or parents’. If you find yourself always wondering what your friends or parents think about the way you spend or invest, then it’s an indication that you haven’t fully figured out your financial identity. It’s impossible to design a well-planned future without a proper financial identity—we end up living our lives in the footsteps of others—and possibly making the same money mistakes.

‘Holistic Wealth: 32 Life Lessons to Help You Find Purpose, Prosperity, and Happiness’ by Keisha Blair. Image provided by © Catalyst Books

3. Have a Personal Mission (Aligned With Your Personal Values)

Holistic Wealth is about creating an intentionally designed life. In order to do so, its very important to have a personal mission statement. To create an intentionally designed life, its important to get proactive about what matters most to you. A clear mission based on your personal, unique values will help provide direction in your life, so that you are free from negative interference. Think of it this way: If you were a spectator at your own funeral, what would you want your friends and family to remember you for most? What moments would you be most proud of? Your personal mission statement is a powerful way to shape the answers to these questions. In my book Holistic Wealth, I give a number of examples of personal mission statements from various experts, that can serve as a guide to help you to undertake writing your own personal mission statement.

4. Take Measured Risks

Taking measured risks are imperative to achieving holistic wealth; it means stepping out on your own with the confidence you need to make your own financial decisions. Too many people become paralyzed by fear and take no action at all when it comes to living their dreams. In addition, when you confuse real constraints with fake ones, you deplete your holistic wealth bank account. People with a holistic wealth mindset don’t fear taking measured risks. They recognize fake versus real constraints, and they view setbacks as only temporary, and include their life’s mission in their definition of success. Get past your fear by focusing on the outcome you want to achieve—then say yes to your desire to take measured risks toward your goals.

5. Learn to Recognize the Signs of a Toxic Relationship

Toxic relationships are a drain on your inner resources and will negatively affect your ability to achieve holistic wealth. Living a life on your own terms means charting your own path forward—free from negativity, harassment, violence and abuse. In my book Holistic Wealth, I’ve outlined three types of chronic “naysayers” who serve to undermine your ability to live on your own terms. The warning signs are a mix of negative messages that serve to undermine your self-confidence in making your own decisions and point out that you lack access to greater opportunity, success and wealth.

After a life-altering setback or any transition in life, its also great to be a part of an accountability group to help advance your mission and goals in life. After all, living a holistically wealthy lifestyle is one of the keys to living a happy, meaningful, purpose-driven life. It means living an intentionally designed life. Starting an accountability group can help you achieve that.

If you’re considering starting a holistic wealth project group, email me at I’ve created a starter kit to help you kick-start your holistic wealth project group.

This article contains excerpts from ‘Holistic Wealth: 32 Life Lessons To Help You Find Purpose, Prosperity and Happiness’ by Keisha Blair. Copyright @ Keisha Blair. 

Serena Williams Discusses Financial Abuse—Here Are Strategies to Fight It