financial abuse is a cruel way to control


I am lost.
Deserted in my loneliness.
I gave so much
In my time,
Love, nurture, protection, succour.
I am lost.
The years are gone,
Slipped slowly on,
Written in the lines on my face,
In the faded blue of my eyes,
In the stumble of my gait,
In the trembling of my hands.
I am lost.
Jim O’Shea

We return to Linda’s story here. Not only was she physically, emotionally and verbally abused, but she also suffered severe financial abuse, which has serious implications for her credit rating, and her ability to borrow in the future.
In the early days when Stephen’s moods began to darken, she felt pressurised to part with her beloved car to satisfy his selfish desire, for what she saw as his ‘happiness’
I once had a car I loved – my BMW – I had worked hard to get this car, and paid off the loan. One weekend my husband and I drove to Belfast to look at a car that he adored and wanted. Finances, however, were not going to stretch for this car. The garage owner said to him that they would consider my car as a trade in, as they liked it, so he would only have to put a small balance to it. At first, I said “no way”. But, on our journey home, he became so depressed and was in such a bad mood. I knew this was going to last. He was blaming me for not being able to get the car, and said that the power was in my hands to get his dream car, and he said that cars didn’t mean as much to me as to him. He kept telling me that this could be “our car”. This went on for days and in the end I gave in. Life was too short to live like this over a car. Yes, I did like my car, but Stephens’s happiness was more important, and if he was going to get so depressed over it I would just agree to the trade in, and we could get back to normal. So, the following week we went back to the garage and made the swap. I was sad at the loss of my car, but I knew that there were more important things in life. Stephens’s happiness used to give me such a kick!
As Stephen’s abusive nature became fully evident, Linda goes on to reveal how she was practically impoverished by his profligacy and irresponsibility. He often spent his wages on alcohol each week, and she was forced to pay the mortgage and bills from her own income. She was, she said, ‘walking on eggshells to try and please him’, as he blithely ignored the bills, some of which were due to his overspending. When she protested and asked him to look at a bill, he would continue to watch television and ‘tell me that I was good at those sort of things and hand it back to me – worry and all’. The situation deteriorated as Stephen started businesses that failed as he lost interest in them, and ‘life began to become one big mess of debts and bills’. He became angry when there were insufficient funds for him to indulge himself with new parts for his car, and blamed his hardworking wife, who managed the money with remarkable expertise. However, she could not cope as his extravagance and irresponsibility increased.
He began to take the chequeblog, write out cheques to cash, and cash them to get what he wanted. Of course, he would spend the money, and only then tell me he about it. He used to assure me not to worry that he would have the money for the account in a week or so. I often believed him, and gave him the benefit of the doubt. But he never stuck to his word. This would mean that I would have to re- jig our money, or go short on something to cover bills. In the end, I had to start hiding the chequeblogs and credit cards because he just didn’t get it. It became my problem, because if I didn’t sort it out cheques would bounce.
Not only did he place all the responsibility on her shoulders, but, as is the way with abusive people, he also mocked her. His sense of entitlement knew few bounds, and reached a new height about three weeks before Christmas one year when
he came home with a new van for which he had signed finance for €15,000. I looked at him drive it in. He had a smile from ear to ear. I just couldn’t believe it. I was so mad at him. We couldn’t afford this. He hadn’t even discussed this with me. It was a huge amount of money to spend without mentioning to your wife, especially when we were really struggling with the monthly finance payments. But, once again, he said he had a new business deal coming up, and not to worry, that it would be easy to pay for the van. Once again, an empty promise – and guess who was left dealing with the monthly payments?
Adapted from Jim O’Shea’s book Abuse. Domestic Violence, Workplace and School Bullying published by Cork University Press

Posted in abuse, financial abuse