Are You Trapped in an Abusive Relationship with Your Job?


[photo credit: DeliriumBlue @ Flickr]

My posting has already started to drop off. Why? My 9 – 5 job has become shaky over the past couple of weeks. My love of this job that I’ve held for the past two years has taken a sharp decline over the past 6 months. The details of this are the subject of a separate post. Suffice it to say that I have begun to look at job boards. I really don’t want to have to go on the job market. I really, really, don’t want to have to go back on the job market. I was last on the market during the recession, and it was brutal. Even more than that, my debt keeps me shackled.

I’ve started to think about bad job fits like any other bad relationship. I’ve come to believe that the worst job relationships can be as emotionally abusive as any other relationship.

Are you in an abusive relationship with your job? See if any of these apply to you.

1. You are subject to regular criticism and judgement; from informal comments to formal reviews. Ever endured a 360 review? No? Look it up and consider yourself lucky. They can be things of terror.

2.  You have lost your self-confidence and self-esteem. You are now a shell of the person you used to be. You question every decision you make and second guess yourself constantly. This extends into your personal life.

3. You start to believe the critical comments made about you. You begin to think that you deserve the treatment you are receiving.

4. Your opinions and suggestions are not respected and are ignored.

5. You live under a myriad of rules; too many to keep track of. You fear doing anything at all because you might be breaking a rule somewhere, which would result in bad consequences.

6. You are watched.  The metaphorical panopticon lives. You feel as though you are always being observed. Your physical whereabouts and online communications are monitored.

7. You are bullied, insulted, or called names.

8. You must get permission to do anything.

9. All of your time must be occupied with it. Forget about spending time with family and friends. You’ve even started dreaming about work. You are made to feel guilty for wanting work-life balance.

10. You get an occasional gift, bonus, award to entice you to stay around a little longer.

Why don’t more people leave abusive jobs? The short answer is, for some of the same reasons many don’t leave an abusive marriage. A few reasons are:

  • 1. Lack of financial independence.
  • 2. Self-doubt and fear that there are no better options out there.
  • 3. Peer pressure or fear of losing the perks and high status that are now enjoyed.

If you feel that you are in an abusive job, start making plans to get out. Eliminate as much debt as possible and put some money aside in an emergency fund. Start looking for new work and be sure to ask more of the right questions, this time around.

As for me, I’m starting to think that my days at this job are numbered. If I last through the end of the year, I will be happy for the sake of my debt. In the meantime, I now have another part-time job of scanning the job boards to add on top of my other three jobs.


“Debtor’s prison is real, and opportunity cost is a bitch.” (DDSW)


  1. Adventures of a Fiscally Fit Chica · November 27, 2014

    I was in an abusive job for a little less than two years. It was the worst two years of my life – then I got into ANOTHER situation that was abusive, and my boss was recently let go, so things have improved. I’m so glad that this is no longer your situation.


    • doubledebtsinglewoman · November 27, 2014

      I’m glad things improved for you. Life is too short to put up with an abusive work environment. Work is hard enough without having to deal with people who hurt you in ways that don’t leave physical scars. I’ve learned that now. Nice blog! Best of luck in your fight against your credit card. Every time you imprison it in your dresser drawer, it escapes and hides in your wallet. 🙂 I understand the battle.


  2. Free_at_Last · March 12, 2016

    I’m stuck in an abusive job and it’s very similar to an abusive relationship. Why leave someone when they are providing you money and health insurance? Similar to an abused wife/gf. I’m happy to say I’m getting out soon.


  3. Help.i.need.somebody! · February 23, 2018

    Hi thanks for sharing…can totally relate. I had look up whether I’m cursed or just dumb because I’ve been in bad debt for quite a number of yrs now and had gone job surfing since I graduated. The abusiveness from peers, bosses, etc. took it’s toll on me and ended up in a Psychiatrist office and later the ward! Yes debilitating debt and abusive work environments can contribute to “irrational” thoughts. But thankfully I work only fifteen minutes from my parents house now yes im living at home and I’m 29. I mean I could just go on and on but currently living pay check to pay check not even living my parents put up with me I try to just contribute and be respectful of them but still I definitely could not support myself rn also I forgot to mention that after the ward I went on… nevermind. So I have a car lease I’m also in bondage too which costs a quarter of my monthly wages so yes I work a week to pay for my ‘lower end sportsmobile’ as my ex bfs roommate phrased it. Anyhow I’m trying to stay off meds and I tested positive for pregnancy just recently high risk might miscarry. Go ahead fling your stones. I know they are coming but hey I did pay off 20k in student loans out of college like eight years ago and okay I’m boring myself. Best wishes to you and perhaps you can write a letter to someone for assistance? Or join a program that helps reduce or pay off debt? Wish I could help but I’m also a fellow slave to debt. Stay sane! Self care . 😉


    • Double Debt Single Woman · March 1, 2018

      Oh wow. Do take care of yourself. You have so much going on! Check in from time to time and let us know how you are doing. Best wishes on your health and pregnancy.


  4. Needout · October 26, 2018

    Thank you for this post. My husband pointed out to me tonight that I act like someone in an abusive marriage, but it’s my job. I have to take action to save myself.


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