“Keep in mind that a director can be held personally liable for actions taken by the company.”
Be it in intimate relationships or company environments, financial and power abuse is the daily bread of many people’s lives. It is serious, detrimental, impactful, and can lead to suicide if the person doesn’t have the necessary support in all life’s spheres to recover from pressure. While it is true that the way we deal with difficulties reveals a lot about our personality, it is also true that law and the system itself aren’t formed to protect people, quite the opposite.
Financial abuse is a form of control where someone deliberately feels entitled to interfere with their partner’s or company’s ability to acquire, use, and maintain economic resources (Adams, Sullivan, Bybee, Greeson, 2008). It also can involve behaviors in terms to sabotage and exploit financial resources, including employment. (Postumus, Plummer, Stylianou, 2016).
The literature is rich in defining what financial and power abuse is. But why are social and law systems lazy at protecting the victims?
The answer to the above question is simple to answer. Because and according to Braaf & Barrett Meyering (2010), economic abuse is considered one of the most hidden or subtle forms of violence. So the easiness to make CEOs responsible for company bankruptcy or label someone as financially dependent on their partner is quite prevalent as the abuse runs behind the scenes. And in companies matters, the abusers know that they will never be responsible for their actions, but the CEOs will. CEOs and directors are the legal faces of their companies for better or for worst.
As Valentine & Breckenride (2016) defended, financial abusers deliberately cause housing insecurities by not making rent or mortgage payments. But also, according to Breckenridge, Walden, & Flax (2014), interfere at workforce or company decisions sabotaging prosperity and the well-functioning. Or by making it impossible for family members to access education.
O’Reilly and Chatman (2020) pointed out that society tends to follow, enable and believe in dangerous individuals to organizations, institutions, and countries. Firstly, because of the misconception between what is a Transformational Leader and a Narcissistic leader. And secondly, because those individuals tend to be so charismatic that they can inspire others to pursue a collective goal even if it is a dangerous goal. However, companies can stop attracting these individuals by changing how they conduct interviews, creating what the authors called Structured Behavioral Interviews that focus on behaviors that reveal a candidate’s true intentions and character traits (entitlement, grandiosity, integrity, hostility). Those interviews also should include discussion of past experience because success isn’t a synonym of “clean path”.
“Once you blow the whistle, you’ve lost your career; you’re going to be deposed and dragged into lawsuits. This is going to take over your life.” by Dale Harley
Harley’s quote (2020), without referring to it, is talking about what you suffer when others enable what you are calling out. Enablers can be divide into three groups, according to Greenberg (2020). Enablers who take delight in ruining other people’s lives. Enablers who are vulnerable and don’t possess the strength to voice their objections and finally the ones who are on their way to becoming a predator themselves.
Let’s use now the enabling behavior in intimate relationships and companies. When you disclose to a close friend that you have been suffering in your relationship, your partner is withholding information and assets. But the other person invalidates or denies your reality by saying everyone in relationships lives that. That’s enabling and perpetuating the abuse.
If you are CEO of one company trying to recovering the company from a backseat, but someone external and without legal powers is acting as the CEO and doing negotiations at your back with the approval and alliance of others, that’s enabling. This enabling and abuse of power is what leads every day many companies and entire families to bankruptcy.
I was there, and I know how it feels! It is highly shameful, repugnant, and detrimental to mental health. It is unbelievable when governments want your company to pay absurd amounts of taxes, but in return, offer no protection against lawsuits. It is surreal when one judge says that everyone can cultivate the lands of your company. And use the water irrigation system in it because they want you to hire a lawyer, spend a bunch of years, money, health in the courts defending your LEGITIMATE rights.
ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?
Never have afraid to blow the whistle. Yes, we may lose our job, our “position”. But as long as you have health and your whole body functioning, WE CAN START OVER AGAIN!
Financial abuse is genderless, and in some cases, can have more serious consequences in men as they tend not to verbalize what’s going on. Or to have a net of sources where they can ask for help.
Signs of Financial abuse in intimate relationships according to Zeiderman (2021):
- Withholding money from you or requiring you to ask for money
- Controlling whether or not you can work
- Making sure that you spend down the money you earn on all the family expenses, but they save the money they earn in an account that you can’t access.
- Showing interest in your retirement funds or other funds more than normal.
- Insisting on knowing how every dollar or euro you earn is spent.
I would add:
- Force you to work in the family business without pay?
- Refuse to pay bills for accounts that are in your name in order to ruin your credit?
- Asking you to be his or her’s guarantor without letting you know the conditions of the loan. Or access to any kind of information.
As I mentioned recently to someone, always be sure to take care of yourself and your assets by seeking professional advice in the “shadows”. It doesn’t matter what they do or not. What matters here is YOU and YOUR FUTURE.
Adams, A. E., Sullivan, C. M., Bybee, D., & Greeson, M. R. (2008). Development of the scale of economic abuse. Violence Against Women, 14, 563–588. doi:10.1177/1077801208315529
Braaf, R., & Barrett Meyering, I. (2010). Seeking security: Promot- ing women’s economic wellbeing following domestic violence (pp. 1–131). Sydney, Australia: University of New South Wales, Australian Domestic and Family Violence Clearinghouse, Aus- tralia Dept. of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indi- genous Affairs.
Breckenridge, J., Walden, I., & Flax, G. (2014). Staying home leaving violence evaluation: Final report (pp. 1–149). Sydney, Australia: Gendered Violence Research Network, UNSW.
Postmus, J. L., Plummer, S. B., & Stylianou, A. M. (2016). Measuring economic abuse in the lives of survivors: Revising the Scale of Economic Abuse. Violence Against Women, 22, 692–703. doi:10. 1177/1077801215610012
Valentine, K., & Breckenridge, J. (2016). Responses to family and domestic violence: Supporting women? Griffith Law Review, 1–15. doi:10.1080/10383441.2016.1204684