Abuse can happen to anyone. Regardless of your age, gender, or ethnicity, you can become a victim of abuse. The problem is many people who are being abused do not see themselves as victims and abusers do not see themselves as being abusive. To protect yourself and the ones you love, you need to keep yourself well educated about the abuse definition and its different forms.
|SEE ALSO: Signs and Symptoms of Psychological Abuse|
What Is Abuse Definition?
Abuse is any action that is done by an individual towards another to cause harm. Some individuals are tolerant of abusive behavior and may dismiss it as mere joking. However, if you feel offended by the abuser’s attitude and that you do not accept it, you should never let it slide.
Different Types of Abuse
Most people hear the word abuse and immediately think of one form or another of physical harm; however, this is not always the case. Other types of abuse include manipulating a victim’s emotions. Emotional abuse is also known as psychological abuse. It leaves no physical damage behind, so it is often difficult to recognize.
Emotional abuse can take many forms such as name calling, threatening, mocking, ignoring, and isolating. Name calling often occurs between people as a form of joking, but it is usually infrequent and results in little or no offense. However, when someone you know starts calling you stupid or idiot and you start feeling offended by it, then the name calling is turning into a form of psychological abuse. Another form of emotional abuse is when someone threatens you in order to get you to do something. An emotionally abusive husband may say things like, “If you go out tonight, you will pay for it” or “if you don’t do as I say, I am never coming back.”
When physical force or violence is used against a victim and it results in bodily injury, pain, or impairment, this is considered physical abuse. There are many forms of physical abuse, such as assault, battery, and inappropriate restraint. It is the most visible form of abuse. It includes scratching or biting, pushing or shoving, slapping, kicking, choking or strangling, throwing things, forced feeding or denial of food, and use of weapons. It often starts small with just a slap or a shove and then gets more intense over time.
Perpetrators of physical abuse rarely take the blame for their actions. They blame something or someone else for their violence, including the victim. They may say that their violent behavior was a result of alcohol, frustration, or stress. One-time incidents of violence are not necessarily considered physical abuse. Every incident should be looked at within its context. You should also look at other behaviors, which may indicate whether or not this sort of behavior will escalate into future abuse.
Most victims do not bring up the sexual abuse they may have gone through because they feel embarrassed. This is particularly common for women who are surrounded by subliminal messages that the abuse may somehow be their fault. Anyone might be subject to facing one form or another of sexual violence, so it matters to learn how to protect yourself and the ones you love from sexual perpetrators.
Groping is a sexually violent act, but it is only considered so when the other person does not approve of it. A woman should always express her discomfort if she feels uncomfortable about being touched. Rape is the most common type of sexual abuse. In addition, other types of sexual abuse include sexual humiliation, off-color jokes, and forcing someone to strip.
Abuse Definition: The Harmful Effects of Abuse
The effect of abuse depends on the personality of the victim as well as the intensity and length of the abuse. Abuse victims may develop a mental health problem, such as depression, substance abuse, or post-traumatic stress disorder.
Abuse victims do not always develop psychological or medical illnesses, but they are more likely to. Most abuse victims develop emotional and psychological problems after they have been abused, such as anxiety disorders and depression. In some extreme cases, victims may resort to substance abuse and self-injurious behavior. Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is also very common among victims. When abuse occurs at an early age, the victim is more likely to develop a personality disorder such as borderline, narcissistic, or histrionic personality disorders or multiple personality disorder.
If the victim was subject to one form or another of sexual abuse, he or she may not desire sex at all and may feel that it is physically or emotionally painful to be intimate with someone. If the victim had to go through severe sexual abuse, he or she may self-harm or start demonstrating suicidal tendencies; they may also develop STDs. Abuse results in poor self-esteem, where victims think very lowly of themselves. It often prevents victims from having trusting relationships with other people.
Victims of domestic violence may develop symptoms that can last for a long time including sleep disturbance, depression, anxiety attacks, feelings of abandonment, anger, sensitivity to rejection, inability to work, and poor relationships with their children and other loved ones. If the abuse is physical and the victim does not make the decision to leave the relationship, the situation may end in the victim’s death.
Children that grow up in homes where violence is the norm develop serious emotional, behavioral, and academic problems. They may demonstrate violent tendencies or withdraw from their communities. As they grow older, children and teenagers who witness domestic violence at an early age are more likely to attempt suicide, use drugs, become bullies, commit crimes, use violence, self-harm, and become abusers in their own relationships.
Child abuse and neglect can take a toll on a child’s mental development, causing problems such as anxiety, depression, and flashbacks. When a child is physically or sexually abused, the following signs are common: bruises and swelling, fractures, difficulty in walking or sitting, stained or bloody clothing, and poor hygiene.
Even when the abuse ends and the abuser leaves, the harms of an abusive relationship can still linger. It is not always easy to overcome the effects of abuse and many people never completely heal. Oftentimes, they stay locked in a cycle of shame, fear, and lack of confidence, but learning how to overcome the abuse is a liberating experience. You can overcome abuse through the following steps:
– Be open about what you went through. It is healthy to talk to someone who can help, such as a therapist, trusted family member, or friend. You may even try to get in touch with people who have been through the same type of abuse as you. Talking to other people about your abuse will help you deal with your emotions in a better way.
– Acknowledge that the abuse was painful. Many victims of abuse tend to dismiss their pains, by saying things like, “well, it only happened sometimes” or “I should have known better than to make him angry.” If you went through pain, you deserve to be given the chance to heal. Don’t justify the abuse or take it lightly. Admitting that you were a victim can make you more powerful in dealing with your feelings.
– Be kind to yourself. No one heals from abuse, whether emotional or physical, in an instant. Understand that it takes time and a lot of hard work to overcome the long-term impacts of abuse.
– Be assertive with others. Victims of emotional abuse often feel that their self-confidence has hit rock bottom and that it is difficult for them to state what they want from other people. You need to learn to stand up for yourself and be assertive about the things that matter to you. If you do not feel comfortable doing something, do not do it. And go easy on yourself. Some people will sense your emotional weaknesses and prey on it. Assertiveness is how you protect yourself.
– Focus on the positivity in your life. It may be difficult at first to be positive; however, all you need is some time and determination to turn the situation around. Enjoy the finer things in your life. Read books and watch movies that make you laugh. Surround yourself with survivors and learn from their strengths. Go out with friends. Spend time with your family. Give yourself some room to be happy and enjoy life. You are more than just an abuse victim.