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How many Types of Human Abuses?
We teach that abuse is "a pattern of behavior used by one person to gain and maintain power and control over another," which is the conventional definition. It's important to remember that this definition refers to repeated actions and not a single occurrence. There is a wide range of possible manifestations of these behaviors. When people hear the word "abuse," they often immediately picture physical assault. Force, however, is simply one of several tools available to those in positions of authority. The abuser may not resort to this tactic first. Here are six forms of misconduct covered in our training for new workers and volunteers.
Purpose: 1. Physiology
The term "abuse" often conjures up images of behavior like this. Abusive physical contact can take the form of any of the following: striking, slapping, kicking, strangling, or otherwise physically impeding a partner's freedom of movement or action. Reckless driving, entering someone's personal space, and other similar actions can also constitute stalking.
Despite the fact that sexual abuse might be classified as a type of physical abuse, we distinguish it as its own category due to the fact that it often involves both physical and non-physical elements. Sexual violence includes all forms of sexual coercion, including rape, as well as the withholding or abusive use of sex as a weapon. An abusive partner may also use sex to criticize or devalue their partner by suggesting either that they aren't good enough at sex or that it is the only thing they are good at. There are countless ways in which the emotions around sex can be utilized as a source of power and control because of the wide range of cultural and emotional connotations it might have. Some people may still believe their partner is entitled to sex and fail to recognize abusive sexual behavior as part of a larger pattern of power and control because of the delay in making marital rape criminal in all 50 states.
Words and feelings:
One survivor said, "My ex-husband used words like weapons; like shards of glass, cutting and slowly draining my life until I almost didn't have any left." I didn't think I was mistreated because he usually didn't hit me. I started to believe his horrible lies about how worthless, stupid, and ugly I was and how no one would ever want me. Other survivors have said that a friend or family member might notice the signs of physical abuse, but the effects of verbal or emotional abuse are harder to spot and harder to prove. Often, it takes longer for emotional scars to heal.
Mental and emotional:
Mental or psychological abuse is when one partner hurts the other's sense of mental health and well-being through a series of actions or words. It is often done by making the person think they are crazy. We've heard stories about abusers moving car keys (and in one case, the whole car) or a purse on purpose, turning down the lights, and outright denying that certain things happened. When this goes on for a long time, and especially when the abuser also keeps the victim alone, the victim starts to depend on the abuser more and more because they don't trust their own judgement. They are also afraid to tell anyone about the abuse they are getting because they don't think anyone will believe them. Angela, who was in one of our Support Groups, said, "He had called me crazy so many times that I wasn't sure if anyone would ever believe me about the abuse."
Because abuse is about having power and control, the person who does it will use any means necessary to keep that power and control, which often includes money. This type of abuse is often a big reason why someone can't leave an abusive relationship. It could be that the abuser controls the household budget and doesn't let the survivor have access to their own bank accounts or spend money, or that the abuser opens credit cards in the survivor's name and racks up debts, or that the abuser doesn't let the survivor work and make their own money. Many of the people we help have credit problems because of what their abusers did in the past. A bad credit history can make it hard for you to rent an apartment, get a job, buy a car, and do a lot of other things you need to do to be independent. We work with survivors to figure out how to solve these problems, but in the meantime, social safety nets like food stamps, cash assistance, and health insurance can help a lot.
Abusers commit cultural abuse when they use parts of a victim's culture to hurt them or keep them under their control. Cultural abuse includes not letting someone follow their religion's dietary or clothing rules, using racial slurs, threatening to "out" someone as LGBQ/T if their friends and family don't know, and isolating someone who doesn't speak the dominant language where they live.