Power and Control Wheel: Economic Abuse
Preventing her from getting
or keeping a job. Making her
ask for money. Giving her an
allowance. Taking her money.
Not letting her know about or
have access to family income.
Preventing her from getting or keeping a job. Bubba started complaining about me needing to get a job the first time he got fired. At that time Shane was only a few months old and Bubba started telling me that I needed to work too so that if he ever lost his job again, we wouldn’t be completely without funds. What Bubba failed to realize was that I’d been a stay-at-home mom for so long by that point that I would only make minimum wage and that would be eaten by child care costs. It would actually cost us more to have me work at that point.
Bubba ended up getting fired from four jobs in the space of seven years. Each time he would freak out and proclaim that I needed to get a job. He had been making $100K at two of the jobs. Yeah, me making minimum wage is really going to help us out there, buddy.
I had wanted to go back to school over the years. Bubba had gotten his Master’s and I wanted a chance to return to school. The two years he was in school were sheer hell for me. He had been working about 60 hours a week plus doing his school work. If he had any free time, it was spent complaining to me how awful I was at everything. In all the years we were together, I had written one journal entry. It was during that time period and it was about Bubba throwing a plate across the kitchen, into the sink, and scaring me and the children enough that it made a lasting impression on Serenity and me.
Bubba could never find time to commit to being home to parent so that I could either work or go back to school. It was never a priority. However, he would tell me often that I needed to go back to work but wouldn’t help me figure out any way that it would be feasible for me to do so. Since he didn’t want to help me figure it out I was in no hurry to go back to work. He actively prevented me from getting a job or going back to school yet he retained the ability to complain that I was doing neither.
Making her ask for money. Giving her an allowance. Taking her money. Bubba didn’t actually do any of these things. He didn’t have to make me ask for money. He just spent freely so that I felt I had to run every purchase by him. I’d thought we’d made an agreement never to spend more than $50 on our own without consulting the other one, but over and over and over he showed that I was the only one willing to stick with this. And when we had this agreement and he’d come home with a $300 Blu-Ray player, I asked him about every $20 purchase I wanted to make. The more freely he spent, the more I felt I had to double-check with him before spending anything. There couldn’t be two free spenders in the family.
Not letting her know about or have access to family income. By the time I left Bubba, I had no idea what bills we had, what we owed on credit cards (more accurately – what he owed because I rarely ever used them), what our bank balances were, anything. I went to our bank and asked them to print out two or three years of statements for me and my friends and I started going through them with a fine-tooth comb. I was shocked by what we found. While I was scrimping and saving because I thought we had almost no money, he was eating out all the time. There were times that there would be a charges for $100-$200 from various restaurants in ONE day! My big splurge was to take the kids to a fast food restaurant on Fridays and let them order 2 things off the dollar menu as a reward for having gotten through another week of school.
He squandered our money for years because he felt entitled to spend as he pleased. I can’t count the numbers of times he told me he could spend what he wanted because he deserved it because he was the one earning the paycheck. Over and over he made it very clear to me that what I did was worthless. And somehow, over the years, I started to believe him in so many ways.