Under pressure: Getting out from under debt

Many people who are facing financial stress feel shame. The thought of growing debt and facing the potential judgment of others can be overwhelming, particularly when related to gambling, and they feel they have to shoulder the burden alone.

The truth is, many Australians have financial difficulties at some point in their lives. If you are facing financial uncertainty, you are not alone. Financial counsellors can offer practical tools and strategies that can help you take control of the situation.

Gus*, a former client, began gambling to relieve stress because of a struggling business. His debts began to grow, but he could not tell his family. He hid the full extent of the problem for a long time while his debt slowly built. As the debt grew, so did his anxiety and shame. Gus grew more and more worried about being found out. In the end, when his wife discovered the debts, it was almost a relief. He was pushed to crisis point, but they could start working on a solution to the problem together.

“It was definitely my rock bottom when my wife found out. She was more worried than anything, and also understandably angry. That same afternoon I called up the Gambling Helpline and had a long talk with someone there. They referred me to a free Financial Counsellor. I went with my wife and over the next month or so they worked through a lot of the debts. We consolidated everything into one manageable payment plan which gave us some breathing room…

It was, in some ways, a relief to not have to hide this huge thing that was happening anymore. Even though the way it happened was awful and created a lot of trust issues between us, when I got some professional help things started to feel more manageable. The debt wasn’t just this big unknown thing that I was scared to look at. It was something that could be chipped away at bit by bit. A huge weight was lifted from my shoulders about three months after I first started seeing the Financial Counsellor, when they told me I wouldn’t lose my business after all.”

Gus’ experience is common among people who are dealing with debt. When people try to deal with the problem alone it feels like it is massive and unmanageable, but when they share the burden with trusted loved ones and trained professionals, they find they can carry the weight.

If you feel you might benefit from the support of a financial counsellor who specialises in working with people who have been affected by gambling, contact the Gambling Helpline on 1800 858 858 to have a chat to one of our professional counsellors. Together, you can figure out your next steps.

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