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When your toxic, evil boss asks you to do something illegal, don't fucking do it. He can afford a better lawyer than you.

Are You Working on the Next Fyre Festival?: Identifying a Toxic Workplace

Ever had a dream job become a nightmare?

I did.

On paper, the job was everything I wanted and more. Sexy product with high growth potential; industry stars leading the initiative; the best Glass Door reviews I’d ever seen; snazzy downtown office with free snacks, free catered lunches, even beer on tap. I’d be working with a few beloved former colleagues, and oh, right—they were doubling my previous salary. I even got to interview and approve my own manager, who was hired after me.

This opportunity sparkled from every facet like a lovely jewel. I entered that job with this-close-to-literal stars in my eyes.

Wobble wobble.

Four months later, it was 8:05 a.m. on a Monday. I was lacing up my snow boots for the walk to the train station. And I couldn’t see the laces anymore because tears reduced everything to a wobbling blur. They were tears of pure dread. These tears had replaced the stars in my eyes and the job that had once thrilled me filled me with misery.

My train leaves at 8:31, I reasoned. It takes me twenty minutes to walk to the station. I have six minutes to kneel here and let the tears flow. Not the healthiest calculus.

I told myself I would give it a year. After all, I had known real hunger—I could do anything for a year. But I only made it to six months.

All my life, I’ve had instruction on how to identify people who want to abuse me. Peers who want to bully and backstab; husbands who want to beat and control; strangers who want to rape and kill. But nobody ever warned me about their institutional counterparts.

These are the hospitals that confound you with arcane billing procedures; colleges that frame their loans as special awards; police that may arbitrarily enforce or not enforce the law based on who you are; unscrupulous realtors who redline; vampiric MLMs who predate. The list ain’t short!

But worst of all, the place you are obliged to go for forty hours (or more) every single week: the toxic workplace.

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I don't know how helpful these images are.

When Money is the Weapon: Understanding Intimate Partner Financial Abuse

Content warning: abuse.

Our culture’s view of domestic abuse lacks imagination.

A quick Google image search for the term shows image after image in the same composition: sad, broken-looking women with bruised faces and smeared mascara. There’s often a menacing figure looming somewhere in the foreground or background. A hand—either her own, or the abuser’s—covers their mouths, preventing them from speaking.

These images are certainly evocative. They’ve been burned into our cultural brain by many years of prevention campaigns.

And they work. Maybe not exactly how they’re meant to, but they certainly influence behavior. I’ve injured my face a few times—a split lip from accidentally head-butting the dog, a black eye from a too-quick turn near my own woodworking project. Every time that’s happened, I’ve felt the concern of acquaintances and strangers in full force. There’s skepticism in their eyes when I explain about the dog or the two-by-four. I can feel them watching me for other signs. It’s both annoying and affirming. The world is full of people with good intentions, and it’s nice to remember that.

But I don’t know how helpful these kinds of images are. There are a lot of people who are in abusive relationships and genuinely don’t know it. When there’s such a codified cultural idea of what an abuse victim looks like and you don’t look like her, it makes it easier to silence your own suspicions that there’s something very wrong in your relationship.

It’s hard to look at a staged photo of a cringing, weeping, blood-splattered woman and say “I think I deserve access to the resources set aside for her.”

There’s a huge spectrum of abusive behaviors and relationships that isn’t captured in this simplistic picture. Abusive relationships aren’t an exclusive plague upon heterosexual relationships. Victims aren’t always women. Abusers aren’t always violent, and the damage often doesn’t leave a mark. And we’re going to talk about one of the most prevalent kinds of abuse today: financial abuse.

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