What is abuse?

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What is abuse? Abuse has a broad spectrum from mild to severe. We are only just recognising the impact abuse can have on a person and thanks to social media and the internet in general, its becoming more widely accepted that abuse isn’t just being physically harmed. Abuse is far more nuanced and can be psychological and emotional too. Below are some common forms of abuse:








As you can see from the list there is a wide range of ways an individual can abuse another person. Within each of these criteria are again a range of behaviours that a person can exhibit that can be constituted as abuse.

The definition of abuse is: ‘to treat in a harmful, injurious, or offensive way’.

Abuse can be both intentional or unintentional. However, i need to add regardless of if a person is aware that they are behaving in an abusive manner or not. This by no means excuses the behaviour. In fact, i feel that if a person is unaware that makes them MORE responsible as they are acting without concern for others. This makes them even more dangerous and harmful.

No type of abuse is worse than others.

All abuse is harmful. It creates many problems from lack of trust, sabotaging of self worth to disease and poor mental health. The upshot of any abusive behaviours is it has ramifications for the person on the receiving end long after the abuse stops. What makes it worse is if the person has no way of coping with the abuse, either they are too young, isolated, have no emotional literacy skills or are fearing judgement or further abuse, this is when abuse turns into trauma.

Abuse is prevalent across all ages. The most harmful however, is the abuse received as a child in a family setting. Children in abusive environments have no safe place or person they can confide in. They are stuck with the abuser/s and so have to learn to cope without guidance. Abuse generally manifests in children in behaviours at first. The child may become angry and volatile, if they are shut down, they will go inwards holding onto the anger they feel, which can lead to a child becoming recluse, dissociative or even start to self harm. In older children such as teenagers they may seek out affection and connection through under aged sex, drugs or alcohol. In some cases children will develop anxiety, panic attacks and even agoraphobia as they feelings become too hard for the child to bare.

Abuse in adults will manifest as a change in personality, they may become unhappy and stop communicating. They may stop going out or seem jittery and panicky when out. Visible bruises across the inside of the arm, on the face or strange places on the body can be signs a person is being physically hit. They may seem to have no drive or just seem ‘different’.

Emotional Abuse

Emotional abuse is a way to control another person by using emotions to criticise, embarrass, shame, blame or otherwise manipulate another person. An example of this would be a separated parent belittling and criticising the other parent in front of their children.

Physical Abuse

Physical abuse is injury from severe to frequent bruising, or other severe injury. Any mark left on a child done out of anger or intentionally can be considered abuse.

Psychological Abuse

Phycological abuse involves the regular and deliberate use of a range of words and non-physical actions to manipulate, hurt, weaken or frighten a person mentally and emotionally. An example of this would be a partner hiding or moving your belongings then pretend they haven’t done so. Causing the person to feel confused and scared they are mentally unwell.

Financial Abuse

Financial abuse is where one partner has control over finances in an attempt to limit and control the others access to any financial resources, forcing the person to be fully dependant on them financially. An example of financial abuse is a partner who deliberately overspends to reduce the amount of money the other person has access to, in the attempt to exert control.

Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse is where an individual is forced to have sex or to perform sex acts against their will. It can also include performing sex acts whilst the person watches, recording the person having sex without their permission, talking about sex or sex acts to a person who doesn’t want to hear. Sexual abuse can happen to both adults and children. You can be married and still be sexual abused by your spouse. Repeatedly raping someone or coercing them into sex can also be defined as sexual abuse.

Spiritual / Religious Abuse

Religious abuse is administered under the guise of religion and is used to harass and humiliate a person. It can also include the misuse of religion for selfish, secular or ideological reasons.

Verbal Abuse

Verbal abuse uses oral, gestured and written language against a victim. This can include harassment, labelling, insulting, scolding, rebuking and excessive yelling towards its victims.

If you feel you are a victim or have been a victim of any of these types of abuse, its advisable to seek help. Mentally and Emotionally dealing with these alone can be difficult and lead to many mental health difficulties. However, if you can get help, then you are going to be able to comes to terms with and move past the abuse. Making your life easier for not only you but those around you who can see your pain.

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