RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – A bipartisan bill lawmakers in the state House of Representatives will begin debating this week could help survivors of domestic violence grapple with debt that follows them for years even after a relationship ends.

The North Carolina Coerced Debt Relief Act would address a situation similar to what Rachel Brummert experienced about 30 years ago.

After she got married to her first husband in 1993, she said she had credit cards in her name that her husband asked to have his name put on as well, which she was fine with doing. But after that, she said the relationship became abusive as her husband spent more and more money.

“So he said, you know if you love me you would put me on your credit card, you would put me on your car, you would put me on everything else. And, what was I going to do? I loved him and we were married and I didn’t have any trouble with it,” she recalled.

She said her husband didn’t want her working. She knew their financial situation was bad, but it wasn’t until the relationship ended that she knew just how bad it was.

“I felt very stuck in that relationship because I wasn’t able to work. I wasn’t making my own money. So, that kept me in the relationship longer than I wanted to, and when I left it wasn’t of my own free will. That was in the back of an ambulance,” Brummert said.

When the relationship ended in 1995, she said she learned there was about $50,000 in debt. Even though she said her husband had racked up that debt, the credit card company told her she was responsible for paying it because the card had originally been in her name.

As Brummert tried to move on with her life, she couldn’t qualify on her own for a car or a home.

“It was difficult just because my credit score was just so shot. We were still having people chasing after me for the debt,” she said.

She said the credit card company even sued her at one point, but that case was dismissed. She said she eventually re-married and paid off the debt by tapping into retirement savings.

“But, that’s something about domestic violence that nobody talks about. There is physical violence. There’s emotional violence, but there’s also a financial aspect to it that nobody understands,” said Brummert.

State Rep. Terry Brown (D-Mecklenburg) says as an attorney he’s worked with dozens of survivors of domestic abuse and said there was financial abuse in nearly all of them.

“It absolutely is more common than you would actually think. And, I think that also comes back to the stigma surrounding domestic violence. A lot of people who are going through domestic violence, they don’t talk about what they’re going through,” Brown said.

The bill he’s co-sponsoring deals coerced debt, which a survivor of domestic abuse may incur as a result of “duress, intimidation, threat of force, force, or undue influence.”

The legislation outlines a path for people to have that debt forgiven and for the companies to get payment from the person who actually was responsible for it.

“This is something that really can cut through party lines and affect a lot of people, help a lot of people here in North Carolina,” said Rep. Brown.

He added the bipartisan group of lawmakers working on the issue has been in talks with banks and domestic violence groups in crafting the legislation.

Brummert says if this option had been available to her nearly 30 years ago, it would have made a significant difference in her life.

“I would have been able to get back on my feet a lot faster. I would have been able to be more independent,” she said. “There is life after abuse.”