Dealing with abuse

What is abuse?

Abuse comes in many forms. It can be emotional, physical, sexual or psychological. It is something that people can do to themselves, for example, by abusing a substance or alcohol until they become dependent on it. In many cases, abuse comes from someone in power, whether that is formal or otherwise. For example, child abuse is often perpetrated by a parent, teacher or someone else in a position of authority. Abuse of prisoners or employees usually takes the same power relationship model. Of course, abuse can also relate to the way people speak to one another, for instance, by the use of abusive language. In other words, this is something that occurs in daily life in all societies and is often tolerated to some extent. Only in its worst forms is it a crime, such as the sexual molestation of a minor or the systematic bullying of a vulnerable adult.

 Where does abuse stem from?

As mentioned, abusing behaviour is commonplace, even if we do not always recognise it as such. That said, the more unpleasant forms of abuse usually – although not entirely – come from people who have been abused in the past. This is sometimes referred to as the cycle of abuse, whereby it continues to be passed on, one victim to the next. At its simplest, most psychologists agree that abusers are seeking to gain dominance in some way because of inner insecurities that they are not necessarily addressing in another way. Although this does not mean abusers are absolved of guilt for their actions, it helps to put it into a wider context.

Can abuse cause anxiety disorders?

Yes, it can. Abuse is related to a number of mental health problems, including anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. Where children have been abused, they may find it difficult to form enduring relationships in later life due to an inability to trust, according to attachment theory. Short-term effects tend to include confusion and feelings of shame. Longer lasting outcomes often include social withdrawal and insomnia, among others.

What is emotional abuse?

Sometimes referred to as psychological abuse, this form means the psychological capacity or the emotional stability of the victim is put out of kilter. It will often involve comments or emotional responses that place the victim in a situation whereby they fail, no matter how hard they try. Emotionally charged abusive behaviour will commonly be conducted by an extremely egotistical person. In such cases, it is sometimes defined as Narcissistic abuse. Generally speaking, physical intimidation is not part of this sort of abusive behaviour, although it can run concurrently.

How can you handle abuse from another?

No one should put up with abuse. It is always best to seek help. Simply by explaining the situation to a trusted friend or a professional will help you to see the abusive behaviour for what it is. The point is to handle it by removing yourself from the abusive situation rather than to find ways of continuing to endure it.

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