Abuse refers to harmful or injurious behaviour to another human being. Abuse may also occur with neglect.

Types of Abuse:

  • Physical Abuse: hitting or beating another person with an object, body part, or weapon. It may include hitting, slapping, pushing, beating, whipping. These actions can lead to hospitalization and even death. Physical abuse also includes more passive behaviours such as locking someone up or depriving them of sleep or food.
  • Verbal Abuse: constant name-calling, labelling, ridicule, making fun of, mocking, spoken threats, and regular bullying. Verbal abuse can occur at schools, in homes or at the workplace. It can be very hard to prove verbal abuse as it’s often hard to obtain evidence, even though the actions are incredibly damaging. The victim can be told that it’s “all in their head” or that it’s “a joke” and made to feel that the constant attacks are really their own fault or their own problem. This can lead to long-term damage to their self-esteem and self-image.
  • Psychological/Emotional Abuse: when one person uses information to manipulate another in an effort to distort their sense of reality. This type of abuse often includes emotional manipulation, wherein the victim does what the abuser wants without questioning. Psychological abuse may be hard to detect early on, which can have seriously damaging effects on the victim later.
  • Sexual Abuse: any unwanted sexual contact to a child or adult by another person. Sexual abuse encompasses incest, molestation, inappropriate touching, partner rape, and date rape and can be coupled with physical or psychological abuse.
  • Neglect: (occasionally described as passive abuse) failure to meet a dependent person’s basic physical and medical needs. May include emotional deprivation and/or desertion.
  • Hate Crimes: any type of abuse directed toward an individual or a group of individuals based solely on some characteristic they share in common. In the United States, hate crimes are defined as crimes in which “the defendant’s conduct was motivated by hatred, bias, or prejudice, based on the actual or perceived race, colour, religion, national origin, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation or gender identity of another individual or group of individuals.”

Causes of Abuse:

  • Ignorance of developmental timetables can cause parents to attack their children when they do not meet an unrealistic milestone.
  • Early learning experiences or the “life cycle of an abuser” can cause the victim to turn into an abuser later in life.
  • Economic stress of being unable to afford day care or elder care.
  • Lack of social support or social resources.
  • Mental disorders
  • Belief systems, especially those where the men believe they have a right to control women or those that believe parental rule is absolute dogma.
  • The role of bystanders is partially to blame as they infrequently report suspected abuse. This leads the abuser to believe that they are invincible and impervious to consequence.

If You Suspect Abuse:

  • Report the abuse to the proper government agencies.
  • Encourage the victim to seek help.
  • Listen, really listen to the victim.
  • Try to talk to them without judgment and get them to understand what is going on with them. Sometimes that kindness can be a lifeline.
  • Offer to help the victim make a plan to escape.
  • Don’t pass angry judgment.