Abuse is often over-used or used incorrectly. And yet, when it is needed to be said, the word isn’t uttered due to shame. It’s time to set the record straight. The word “abuse” is defined by Merriam-Webster as
a corrupt practice or custom
improper or excessive use or treatment
a deceitful act , deception
language that condemns or vilifies usually unjustly, intemperately, and angrily
Abuse comes in many forms. Following are 5 major types:
Physical (when physical touch hurts. Period. Yes, hair pulling, pushing and grabbing is abuse. It’s that simple. Throws a punch to the wall next to you also counts. That is intimidating and not safe.)
Emotional (bullying, threatening and intimidating behaviors; you don’t feel safe; you feel crushed, minimized, by the person that’s supposed to love you, limits your/denies you time spent with friends/family. Unpredictable responses. Embarrasses you in public. Framing things as you being over sensitive. Blaming you for their bad behavior.)
Financial (withholds information about and/or access to money; stealing/embezzling from accounts for their expenses and not telling you about it)
Verbal (when words said by others hurt and/or leaves you feeling confused. Yelling/screaming/calling you names.)
Sexual (forces you to do something you don’t want to do)
Regardless of the type, they are all difficult to experience. The first step is to define it for what it is. For example, you must first accept you are being verbally abused when someone swears at you and calls you names. You have to say to yourself, “I am being verbally abused” and accept your reality, before you can confront the perpetrator. But, what if you aren’t sure? What if you were asleep in the back of the car and he started throwing popcorn at you and laughing. Is that emotional abuse (embarrassing you in public)? No. Juvenile? Yes.
I will add to be framed “abuse” it needs to be a trend or chronic situation, in all abuse categories, with the exception of the physical. One-and-done is all it takes and the police are called. Please have some common sense about this. Don’t count opening the kitchen cabinet door in your face, accidentally, four years ago as abuse. Especially if nothing remotely similar has happened. That was an accident; and a funny memory you two can share.
Still wondering if is abuse or not? The best way is to get educated about the topic. If the dictionary definition didn’t help, here are some excellent resources to get you started (emphasis on emotional and verbal abuse because it isn’t as obvious or defining as physical abuse):
- The Emotionally Destructive Marriage (Christian perspective on the verbally/emotionally abusive marriage) Book and website. She exposes the subtleties and subliminal attitudes and behaviors of the abuser that so often confuse and conflict the victim.
- Love is Respect.org website dedicated to helping young people prevent and end abuse, but everyone can benefit. Fabulous breakdown of the different types of abuse. Helpful quizzes and resources. On-line, 24-hour chat. You have to take a quiz to activate it.
- 7 Signs of an Emotionally Abusive Relationship YouTube video created by Adam LaDolce, of SexyConfidence. Excellent and entertaining.
Finally, I leave you with what may be the two most important questions to ask yourself to determine if what you’re experiencing is abuse:
- Does the person behave appropriately to the circumstances?
- How do you feel after an encounter with them?
Please remember to leave your kind words or comments below.
Blessings and Joy,