On Read A Book Day, authors share their experience of economic abuse to help raise awareness.
A trip away, a morning swimming or even a coffee. They were always dependent on his good will, which was rare.
‘We can’t afford the fuel. Go ahead if you think you know best, but it’ll be on your head when we can’t put food on the table next week!’
Ryan, Charlotte and I we never knew what our financial circumstances were, but neither did our mother: our father demanded all the money went to him to be distributed as he saw fit.
Sometimes, while we sat in the living room, the only room in the house that he would heat, our father would get deliveries that he’d place proudly in the middle of the room, for example: camping equipment, an exercise bike or a blender. Sometimes he’d disappear off on an unannounced holiday to see friends in Spain with little more than a mumble to tell us when he would be back. He wanted us to ask what he’d ordered or where he was going so he could snap at us. He’d scream that he’d had enough of us all and was taking the camping gear to get away. He’d claim we were all stressing him out and that he needed to exercise or eat more healthily otherwise we were going to kill him with the stress.
We learned not to want things. We knew we wouldn’t get them and asking would send him into an entitled rage. We got used to having little, but the real challenge was trying to raise enough money to escape from him. Our father was an unpleasant man and his aggressive, insulting and demeaning behaviour made all our lives miserable. We wanted a life away from him.
Whenever our mother mentioned she wanted to leave he would make threatening claims:
‘I’ll ring up the police and report you for tax fraud. You’ll never see the kids again!’
‘I’ll cancel the house insurance and burn the house to the ground! You’ll have nothing!’
Once my brother, Ryan, and I both had jobs and raised enough money to support our mother and sister, our mother announced she was leaving for good. Our father immediately took all the money from the joint account and disappeared for a day. He then returned with the money but purchased a safe and with the money he placed our mother’s passport, driving licence and all her personal documents inside and locked them away from her.
Shortly after, Ryan and I broke our mother and sister from the home when our father was at work and moved them to a small rental house five miles way. Only five days later our father shot and killed Mum and Charlotte, only 19 at the time, before killing himself.
Our father prevented us leaving with the precarious poverty he held us in. He made sure there was never enough to survive away from him. He only worked part-time to earn as little as possible. Mum could only work part-time because of her multiple sclerosis. He gambled and even gave away thousands of pounds to those he’d met on the internet.
Fundamentally, our father preferred power and control over us rather than his own economic well-being. He would happily earn less if it meant he could control us more. The economic abuse he inflicted on our family meant that it took 26 years for Ryan and I to finally save enough to support Mum and Charlotte. Despite never having physically assaulted us during that period, our father’s economic abuse showed how he considered us nothing more than another of his possessions. A belief system that would ultimately lead to the murders of Mum and Charlotte.
Support for SEA: “Our personal experience of economic abuse within our family is why we support the work that Surviving Economic Abuse is doing to raise awareness of this issue.”
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