Description or Situation
Abuse is a topic or subject matter encompassing a wide variety of circumstances and situations. This presentation makes references to various types of abuse which are specific to being a victim as a result of actions inflicted by others. Issues associated with self inflicted forms of abuse can be found within the "Addiction" page. The intent of this information is to acknowledge and validate various aspects of abuse and to remove doubt as well as the differences between abuse and the inability to cope with everyday circumstances of life. We all live here on Earth together. The diversity between each of us is far and wide. The differences between the cultures we live within adds to the diversity making it difficult for many people to accept those differences as normal behavior. Correct behavior seems to be a matter of perspective. Most all of us have our own opinion as to what is acceptable treatment towards others and we often draw the line at certain levels of behavior. Regardless, .... there are people living amongst us that are less fortunate in understanding these facts and their behavior towards others is unacceptable and many times abusive. Some people are simply unaware of how they are treating others and oblivious to the impact it has on the lives around them. Others willfully choose to treat people with disrespect or hateful behavior and either don't care or enjoy inflicting pain. It is often a result of a lack of self worth or confidence that drives such behavior towards others. To some degree it is tolerable and in other occasions it is not. Abuse is often a matter of perspective however the consequences can surely escalate to disastrous events. Intentionally pushing someone beyond tolerant levels can result in severe retribution depending on the victims state of mind. The following information presents various aspect of abuse with the aim to assist those who seek a higher level of understanding in the subject matter.
What is abuse ?
Abuse is about the mistreatment of people, systems or animals. Abuse is the improper usage or treatment of an entity, often to unfairly or improperly gain benefit. Abuse can come in many forms, such as: physical or verbal maltreatment, injury, assault, violation, rape, unjust practices; crimes, or other types of aggression. [Source].
Categories of Abuse
Physical abuse is an act of a person involving contact of another person intended to cause feelings of physical pain, injury, or other physical suffering or bodily harm. In most cases, children are the victims of physical abuse, but adults can also be victims, such as in a domestic context. Alternative terms sometimes used include physical assault or physical violence, and may also include sexual abuse. Physical abuse may involve more than one abuser and more than one victim. Physically abused children are at risk for later interpersonal problems involving aggressive behavior, and adolescents are at a much greater risk for substance abuse. In addition, symptoms of depression, emotional distress, and suicidal idealization are also common features of people who have been physically abused. Studies have also shown that children with a history of physical abuse may meet DSM-IV-TR criteria for post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). As many as one-third of children who experience physical abuse are also at risk to become abusive as adults. Researchers have pointed to other potential psycho-biological effects of child physical abuse on parenting when abused children become adults. These recent findings may, at least in part, be carried forward by genetic changes that impact the regulation of stress physiology. Many other potentially important consequences of child physical abuse on adolescent and adult physical and mental health and development have been documented via the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) studies. [Source].
Emotional abuse, also referred to as psychological or mental abuse, is a form of abuse characterized by a person subjecting or exposing another to behavior that may result in psychological trauma, including anxiety, chronic depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder. Such abuse is often associated with situations of power imbalance, such as abusive relationships, bullying, and abuse in the workplace. ″Emotional abuse is any kind of abuse that is emotional rather than physical in nature. It can include anything from verbal abuse and constant criticism to more subtle tactics, such as intimidation, manipulation, and refusal to ever be pleased. Emotional abuse can take many forms. Three general patterns of abusive behavior include aggression, denying, and minimizing'.″ Even though there is no established definition for emotional abuse, emotional abuse can possess a definition beyond verbal and psychological abuse. Blaming, shaming, and name calling are a few identifiers of verbal abuse which can affect a victim emotionally. The victim's self-worth and emotional well being is altered and even diminished by the verbal abuse and the result is an emotionally abused victim. The victim may experience severe psychological effects. This would involve the tactics of brainwashing, which can fall under psychological abuse as well, but emotional abuse consists of the manipulation of the victim's emotions. The victim may feel their emotions are being affected by the abuser so much that the victim may no longer recognize what their own feelings are about issue/s the abuser is trying to control. The result is the victim's self-concept and independence are `systematically taken away. The U.S. Department of Justice defines emotionally abusive traits as including causing fear by: intimidation, threatening physical harm to self, partner, children, or partner's family or friends, destruction of pets and property, forcing isolation from family, friends, or school or work. Subtler emotionally abusive tactics include insults, put-downs, arbitrary and unpredictable inconsistency, and gas-lighting (the denial that previous abusive incidents occurred). Modern technology has led to new forms of abuse, by text messaging and online cyber-bullying. [Source]
Verbal abuse (also known as reviling or " verbal bullying") is described as a negative defining statement told to the victim or about the victim, or by withholding any response, thereby defining the target as non-existent. If the abuser does not immediately apologize and retract the defining statement, the relationship may be a verbally abusive one. In schools and in everyday life, a person may indulge in verbal abuse — bullying (which often has a physical component) to gain status as superior to the person targeted and to bond with others against the target. Generally the bully knows no other way to connect emotionally with others. In couple relationships, the verbal abuser responds to the partner's "separateness," i.e., independent thoughts, views, desires, feelings, expressions (even of happiness) as an irritant or even an attack. While some people believe the abuser has low self-esteem and so attempts to place their victim in a similar position, i.e., to believe negative things about themselves, this is not usually the case in couple relationships. One partner may, for example, disparage the other simply because they have qualities that were disparaged in them, i.e., emotional intelligence, warmth, receptivity and so forth. Anyone can experience verbal abuse. Typically, in couple or family relationships verbal abuse increases in intensity and frequency over time. After exposure to verbal abuse, victims may develop clinical depression and/or post-traumatic stress disorder. The person targeted by verbal abuse over time may succumb to any stress related illness. Verbal abuse creates emotional pain and mental anguish in its target. Despite being the most common form of abuse, verbal abuse is generally not taken as seriously as other types because there is no visible proof, and the abuser may have a "perfect" personality around others. In reality, however, verbal abuse can be more detrimental to a person's health than physical abuse. If a person is verbally abused from childhood on, he or she may develop psychological disorders that plague them into and throughout adulthood. [Source]
Sexual abuse, also referred to as molestation, is forcing undesired sexual behavior by one person upon another. When that force is immediate, of short duration, or infrequent, it is called sexual assault. The offender is referred to as a sexual abuser or (often pejoratively) molester. The term also covers any behavior by any adult towards a child to stimulate either the adult or child sexually. When the victim is younger than the age of consent, it is referred to as statutory rape or child sexual abuse. [More from source]
Economic abuse is a form of abuse when one intimate partner has control over the other partner's access to economic resources, which diminishes the victim's capacity to support him/herself and forces him/her to depend on the perpetrator financially. It is related, or also known as, financial abuse, which is the illegal or unauthorized use of a person’s property, money, pension book or other valuables (including changing the person's will to name the abuser as heir), often fraudulently obtaining power of attorney, followed by deprivation of money or other property, or by eviction from own home. Financial abuse applies to both elder abuse and domestic violence. A key distinction between economic abuse and financial abuse is that economic abuse also includes the control of someone's present or future earning potential by preventing them from obtaining a job or education. [Source]
Social abuse can generally be defined as follows:
1) The coercion of an individual in a public setting.
2) The collective abuse by a group of people toward an individual. One person can often manipulate a group to control another individual as at school. Social abuse uses the power of the group to embarrass and to intimidate.
MORE ABOUT SOCIAL AB-- USE: For example, under the meaning of the first definition, teenagers can be made to feel embarrassed in front of their classmates or made to feel self conscious about the way they dress. Under the meaning of the second definition, people at a family gathering might make fun of a new girlfriend. [Source] , [Additional source]
Additional social abuse > Elder abuse and neglect are frequently occurring incidents which render the older adult vulnerable and helpless. Each state has regulations and policies governing the reporting of cases of elder abuse. Elder abuse is a frightening, traumatic event for the victim. As a care provider, your response to the crisis is of essential importance to the victim’s present and future well being. Providing proper care at this critical time may be complex and difficult. Those guidelines are designed to guide you to the best and most complete practices to meet the needs of these patients and their families. It is essential for a clinician to approach these patients in a non-judgmental, emphatic and reassuring manner, validating the experience while providing safety and privacy. It is critical to understand that patients who have been abused have experienced a loss of control. By asking for consent and explaining each step of the treatment, decision making is returned to their control. Violent trauma also leads to ambivalence and confusion. Stay with the patient for as long as your duties permit. Remember that a healthcare provider may be the first person a victim of elder abuse approaches to reveal their problem.
Identifying Elder Abuse
Elder abuse is a pattern of coercive and often violent behavior that may include physical, emotional and financial exploitation that caregivers inflict upon older adults. Neglect includes failure or omission by a caregiver to supply an older adult with reasonable and necessary food, clothing, shelter, health care or supervision.
Physical abuse, hitting, pushing, shaking, emotional abuse, harassment, intimidation, verbal insults, financial, cons, scams, theft of monthly checks and/or other assets.
Signs and Symptoms
Sudden inability to pay bills, buy food or medicine. / Unexplained injuries or bruises. / changes in mood, depression, or tiredness. / Lack of contact with family and friends.
What might be a cause for abuse?
Many people think that batterers are violent because they have mental illness, low self-esteem, a genetic defect, a drug or alcohol problem, or because they lose control of their emotions. Even though any one of these may be true, the primary cause of battering is learned behavior which is determined by a combination of experience, and the environment. Some behavior, called innate, comes from your genes and is better understood as instinct however most behavior is learned.
Who is susceptible to being abused?
The answer for this question is relatively easy. The fact of the matter is that anyone can be susceptible to becoming a victim of one or more variations of abuse. Education, awareness and reluctance to accept any form of abuse is advantageous when looking to prevent or reduce abusive treatment from others.
What are the effects of abuse?
Regardless of the type of abuse the effects can be the same as those listed in the categories above. Bottom line is that the effects associated with abuse is diverse with a wide array of consequences. Negative effects are most common and realized first by victims or people who feel they have been victimized. Those effects can be associated with depression, despondency, anger, futile or dangerous behavior, retribution, suicide, drug & alcohol use etc. Positive effects are more often than not noticed later if at all. This is often associated with periods during recovery for those with an instinct to build an immunity to abusive situations. To prevent from having been beaten down in some way. To do more than just cope.
Answers to the following questions may determine or validate terms of abuse
Humiliation, degradation, discounting, negating. judging, criticizing:
- Does anyone make fun of you or put you down in front of others?
- Do they tease you, use sarcasm as a way to put you down or degrade you?
- When you complain do they say that “it was just a joke” and that you are too sensitive?
- Do they tell you that your opinion or feelings are “wrong?”
- Does anyone regularly ridicule, dismiss, disregard your opinions, thoughts, suggestions, and feelings?
Domination, control, and shame:
- Do you feel that the person treats you like a child?
- Do they constantly correct or chastise you because your behavior is “inappropriate?”
- Do you feel you must “get permission” before going somewhere or before making even small decisions?
- Do they control your spending?
- Do they treat you as though you are inferior to them?
- Do they make you feel as though they are always right?
- Do they remind you of your shortcomings?
- Do they belittle your accomplishments, your aspirations, your plans or even who you are?
- Do they give disapproving, dismissive, contemptuous, or condescending looks, comments, and behavior?
Accusing and blaming, trivial and unreasonable demands or expectations, denies own shortcomings:
- Do they accuse you of something contrived in their own minds when you know it isn’t true?
- Are they unable to laugh at themselves?
- Are they extremely sensitive when it comes to others making fun of them or making any kind of comment that seems to show a lack of respect?
- Do they have trouble apologizing?
- Do they make excuses for their behavior or tend to blame others or circumstances for their mistakes?
- Do they call you names or label you?
- Do they blame you for their problems or unhappiness?
- Do they continually have “boundary violations” and disrespect your valid requests?
Emotional distancing and the “silent treatment,” isolation, emotional abandonment or neglect:
- Do they use pouting, withdrawal or withholding attention or affection?
- Do they not want to meet the basic needs or use neglect or abandonment as punishment?
- Do they play the victim to deflect blame onto you instead of taking responsibility for their actions and attitudes?
- Do they not notice or care how you feel?
- Do they not show empathy or ask questions to gather information?
Co-dependence and enmeshment:
- Does anyone treat you not as a separate person but instead as an extension of themselves?
- Do they not protect your personal boundaries and share information that you have not approved?
- Do they disrespect your requests and do what they think is best for you?
- Do they require continual contact and haven’t developed a healthy support network among their own peers?
More types of abuse:
Resources such as Wikipedia define over 120 variations of abuse listed alphabetically. [Go here for specifics].
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