Abuse has many definitions, but the one almost everyone’s mind goes directly towards is “cruel and violent treatment of a person or animal”. The dictionary makes abuse seem black and white, nothing but one thing, when in reality there are so many different shades of grey. Abuse is not defined by one common definition. It is defined by a person’s knowledge and interaction with abuse. Abuse is an action of a manipulative, cruel person. An abuser finds joy in inflicting pain upon their victims. Although some manipulators don’t realize they are an acting participant in abusing someone or something. There are six types of abuse, but the four most common types are sexual, emotional, physical and psychological abuse.
While sexual abuse is often thought of as a type of physical abuse it can also be non-physical. Many people think of sexual abuse outside of marriage, but there are many cases of domestic violence that turns into sexual abuse, marital rape. Marital rape was not recognized as an illegal act until 1993. Many abusers use verbal communication and violence to obtain what they desire. Whether the abuser is using hateful words and insults such as calling their victim a whore or saying they are only good for one thing, sex, it affects the victim on an emotional level. Most sexual abusers use violence to gain what they want for example they may hit, strangle, or use their strength as an advantage over their victim. Not all sexual abusers are male, some are women. When a woman is an abuser it is often harder to differentiate the manipulations taking place because females tend to use non-physical ways to attack their victim such as emotional, verbal, and psychological.
Many people see abuse as a physical action, but physical abuse is not the only type of cruelty. Emotional abuse leaves scars deeper than the eye can see and often take longer to heal. “One survivor says ‘My ex-husband used words like weapons; like shards of glass, cutting and slowly draining my life, until I had nearly none left. I didn’t think I was abused because he didn’t hit me- usually… I had begun to believe his awful lies- how worthless I was, how stupid, how ugly, and how no one would ever want me.” (REACH). While physical abuse is easier to spot and close friends and family usually are the first to notice the abuse emotional abuse is harder to prove and spot. Victims often restrict themselves from the world outside of the household in fear of upsetting their abuser.
Physical abuse is the type of abuse everyone thinks of when they hear “abuse”. Most people consider physical abuse to be linked to hitting, kicking, slapping, punching, strangling etc. but physical abuse can also be making someone feel physically unsafe. According to New York State Office of Children and Family Services, the definition of physical abuse is, “Non-accidental use of force that results in bodily injury, pain, or impairment. This includes, but is not limited to, being slapped, burned, cut, bruised, or improperly physically restrained.” (New York State Office of Children and Family Services). Most cases of physical abuse follow a pattern where a shift in power happens whether it be slow, the other person doesn’t realize the shift or when it happened, or it could take place in a quick manner when a commitment or change in a relationship takes place. Physical abuse can target any generation, it is not limited to one age group. Elders, children, or adults of any age can be targeted victims. Physical abuse often has a cycle it occurs in, “threats of violence, such as, ‘if you do that one more time, you’ll be sorry’, The physical abuse itself such as hitting, burning or slapping, Apologies by the abuser;
the abuser may be extra attentive, ‘turn on the charm,’ or buy gifts, The cycle begins again, often with the abuser planning the next action of abuse”(TRACY). This type of abuse is the easiest to spot or prove and often one of the most destructive.
Among the four most common types of abuse is psychological abuse. Mental abuse occurs when one partner wears away the others mental health through a series of actions or words. Most cases of psychological abuse involve making the victim doubt their minds ability to stay sane. Abusers of this type will move things such as keys, purses, or dimming lights or turning them off completely then deny that these things ever took place. These acts force the victims to be dependent on the abuser, especially over a long period of time. The victims also are hesitant to come out and talk about the manipulation they are enduring in fear of nobody believing them. In one support group a participant said, “He had called me crazy so many times, I was unsure if anyone would ever believe me about the abuse.”(REACH). Psychological Abuse is one of the hardest types of abuse to come back from because it’s not like a cut or a bruise that fades with time it takes time to gain your sanity back.
Sexual, emotional, physical, and psychological abuse are entail different things but are all categorized as one thing, abuse. There is not one single definition that covers everything abuse entails. Abuse is a hard word to define as the definition varies with different people. Abuse of any kind has a tremendous impact on its victims, which leaves them afraid to speak out on the pain that has been inflicted on them. There are certain types of abuse that are thought of first and are easy to spot, while others can be harder to detect and thought of last. There can be a definition that fits the behavior, but not one that covers the full wide-ranging topic.