Economic Abuse is another part of the power and control, but too many people do not take it seriously. What does it look like? What is the big deal? Everyone is struggling paycheck to paycheck, right?
Economic abuse isn't just having money problems. It's the constant control over money and keeping their target dependent. She becomes embroiled in the battle to survive. Here are some examples:
Racing to the bank, Lila knew she'd only barely cover what he'd spent. Only if she didn't have too many bounced check fees left over from the last payday. She looked down at the dashboard. She'd have to take a few dollars to fill her tank or not make it back to work tomorrow morning. If she didn't run out of gas before the bank. She had to get the checkbook taken care of before she could pay childcare. She couldn't afford one more bounced check on their account. Come to think of it, she hadn't written a check in three months. She'd been paying in cash when she could scrape it together so she could clean up their finances. Why was she still rushing to deposit every payday? What more could she do?
Marnie begged through tears, "Please Rodney, I need enough to buy diapers."
"Forget it." He swiped his hand through the air at her. "I told you to take better care of what I gave you. You'll just have to use cloth and wash them. I can't believe you're so bad with money. I can't trust you to handle anything, can I?" He turned the t.v. up and slugged down his beer.
Roberta flushed red. "I can't."
Gail stopped. "Coffee? You can't stop for coffee?"
"No. I didn't bring any money with me." What would Gail think if she knew she never had any money with her.
"I'll treat then."
"No, I'm sorry. I have to get home. Another time, okay?" Roberta excused herself. Even these few minutes would be questioned. She shouldn't have said hello and wasted precious time. He'd give her the third degree for being late. The kids didn't need to see it one more time this week. She'd cry, but those tears dried up so long ago.
She stared at the bills. The electricity, garbage, rent, and insurance would take all the money. She plopped her chin into her palm and propped her elbow on the table. If she paid half the insurance, how long until they cancel? If she took her calculator to the store, used only products with coupons, they might get enough until she picked up another shift.
"Mommy, here's my birthday list." The little girl held out a paper with a list written in red crayon.
A birthday cake. She needed to somehow get cake and ice cream. There wasn't enough to stretch.
She had a good job. Why was she always chasing her tail? No. She knew the answer. She couldn't keep the family afloat by herself. Her husband had to help somehow. It didn't help to get resentful about it. He hadn't kept a job for longer than a few weeks. A tear slipped down her cheek. Eighty hours this week and she still didn't make enough. Tired, she was so tired. She got up and started the dishwasher.
Are these extreme examples? Or do they sound familiar?
Again, you don't have to do anything at all. Just think about it. Nothing else.
If a friend of yours is in this situation, don't push. Keep the lines of communication open. Be a listener. It takes a long time to wake up to an abusive situation. Don't be the one to argue about it.
Ask gentle questions that allow your friend to come to the conclusions she needs. Don't make her feel defensive. That will make her dig her heels in and justify the problem.