What is abuse?

What is Abuse?

havoca What Is AbuseIf you are like most people you may think abuse is physical violence – having force used against you, having bones broken, being attacked, punched or kicked.  This is true of course, but other types of abuse exist which are as bad as, and can be worse than, physical violence.  There are four types of child abuse; physical, sexual, psychological, physical and emotional neglect.  Although listed as five distinct categories they all over lap.  For example a child may experience physical violence and also be forced to watch his parent being physically abused, resulting in psychological damage. All four types of abuse have things in common; they are detrimental to the well being of the child involved and can have serious consequences in the child’s development with far reaching problems right into adulthood.  All types can be stopped, either the perpetrator or the victim has the ability to stop the abuse and get help (we will discuss this later).  Thirdly, all forms of abuse are illegal – some groups still maintain that sex with children should be encouraged.

IMPORTANT
Children do not have the intellectual, emotional or physical maturity to be able to protect themselves from adults and therefore are protected by the law.  Adults will always have more power over children and therefore should be prevented from exploiting their power.

Physical Abuse: Slapping a child’s bottom is probably not abuse, stubbing a cigarette out on a child’s bottom is.  The woolly area between these types of punishment are distinguished by guidelines set out by the law.  Physical child abuse is defined as any corporal punishment that either leaves marks or is potentially dangerous to the child.  Unfortunately, the law does not define emotional abuse as a result of this physical violence.  One of our readers, Mark, was continually slapped across his face by his Father.  The slapping which was continuous and for no good reason would sometimes last all evening.  Although he suffered no permanent physical damage as a result of the abuse his emotional scars go deep. Mark now married with two children becomes aggressive and angry, and although not violent does use his power to intimidate and frighten his own children.

Sexual Abuse: Is in fact a sexual act.  That act cannot be ignored.  Yet it is much more than a sexual act, if adults who were sexual with children merely wanted to quench their thirst for sex there are many lower risk methods of acquiring satisfaction. In most cases it is not the touch itself that is harmful it is the meaning behind the touch that hurts.  Sexual abuse can be an expression of power, compulsiveness, an act of vengeance, or a desire for control, which often dangerously comes masked as an act of love.

Psychological Abuse:  Is hard to define it includes, name calling, humiliation, rejection, putdowns, being degraded, being belittled, being made to feel ashamed of oneself, isolation, being corrupt, threatening behaviour, witnessing marital violence, forced to perform acts beyond the child’s control.

Physical and Emotional Neglect: This is what didn’t happen to you as a child as opposed to what did happen to you.  Physical neglect is not receiving the proper level of care for a child, for example no shoes, lack of proper clothing, lack of food, lack of shelter and lack of medical care.  Emotional neglect involves not getting loved, not receiving sympathy, affection or empathy.  All of which are essential for the child’s upbringing.

Perpetrator: The next issue we need to address is the person who committed the abuse.  Most people relate child abuse with adult abusers; teachers, parents, school teachers, community leaders etc.  However this isn’t always the case.   A high percentage of children are abused by their own siblings.  This type of abuse has the same affects and issues on the victim as abuse that is perpetrated by an adult.  Therefore, throughout this site, mentions of childhood abuse are not perpetrator specific, unless stated in the text.

Tip
As you read through the information in this website, you may find yourself experiencing all sorts of emotions; you may disagree entirely with whats been written.  The advice would be to write everything down, so that you can analyse it later – self reflection is an important part of any recovery.

20 Responses to What is abuse?

  1. Andrew Munn says:

    Just a note to say that I wwould like to talk to someone anonymously about the abuse that I encountered as a 12-15 year old boy.

    I have been/felt gay for most of my life, I do not believe that I would have been so without the pervert.

    I think that my life would have been normal without our relationship.

    I hate being/feeling gay, even though I have no hate for people that are so. I think that I will always be attracted to men, for the rest of my life.

    Best regards,

    Andrew

    • HAVOCAHAVOCA says:

      Thanks for your comment. The origins of a person’s sexuality is a very difficult thing to establish. It is natural for children who have been abused by a same sex perpetrator to question their sexuality. We would strongly recommend professional counselling to allow you to explore your sexuality issue. It may be that you are homosexual, bisexual or heterosexual – but the main aim should be to feel comfortable in your own skin and not defined by an abusive past.

      Feel free to contact us using our form.

      Jamie

  2. rebecca anne says:

    was I abused? my Dad would give me chinese burns in order to hurt me, kick or thump me, twist my arms, push my face into the floor, he would get on top of me and hold me down until I couldn’t move or breath if I made him angry or was just doing something he did not like. Not every day though, not even every week. But sometimes he would provoke or pretend it was a game before getting nasty. He also told me I was no good and would never get anywhere etc etc. I was terrified of him and consistently tense around him. I have trouble working out what kind of abuse it was. I believe I do have trust issues as a result, I am certainly not getting anywhere, I am on red alert and sexually I am very messed up- I can’t let anyone near me. I battle self esteem every day and feel disgusting.

    • HAVOCAHAVOCA says:

      Any type of physical abuse leaves many scars. Combine this with the psychological mind games that seem to be a part of this situation it certainly sounds like you were subjected to abuse. More importantly some of the symptoms you mention are indicative of an abusive past.

      The main thing to focus on is the control you now have to change things. You are no longer under your father’s spell and can break free and start to heal. By posting here you have proved you have the courage and motivation to take the next step.

      Depending on your lifetime goals I would thoroughly recommend seeking professional help to guide you through the process. You might also like to hook up with other survivors even through our forums or by finding a local survivors group.

      Good luck and be kind to yourself.

    • aniket says:

      I’ve lost faith in humanity, I mean how could a father can beat this bad to his child! Jesus!

      Ohh you’re such a brave kid. Be a good example young boy.

      My blessings are always with you.

  3. rebecca anne says:

    thank you.

  4. Lena says:

    Was I abused?
    I know there was some emotional abuse in my family, but learning about abuse has brought up two very strong memories that I had forgoten. I cant remember how old I was I just know it happened somewhere between the ages of 7 and 11 (this part of my childhood is really blurry in my memory). One was my mother forcing me to strip down and have a bath with both my parents in the bathroom, at the time I had been bathing alone for years, and I wanted to do it alone but my mother told me I couldnt because there was a power outage, still I couldnt understand why I couldnt do it alone or why my father had to be there, I remember him just sitting on a chair in the bathroom looking at me, not doing anything except holding a flashlight (it could be placed anywhere in the bathroom). The second memory was us being at a public beach, my whole family was there along with some family friends ad their children, when my mother decided I had to change my bathing suite because it was wet and stripped me naked in front of everyone and gave me another one to put on, I remember asking her not to, or to at least hold up a towel so the other wouldnt see me, but she refused and stripped me down. I feel really confused and dont know what to think or do.

    • HAVOCAHAVOCA says:

      Thank you for sharing your story but I’m sorry you have the need to search us out in the first place. Any case of abuse is horrific and the first few steps are often the worst. Reaching out is just the beginning of what can become a soul searching journey. Your next step is really dependent on how you feel best able to proceed. We generally point people in three directions:

      Professional Help
      Self help
      Community help

      Have a look through each of the areas which are linked to pages on the site. You might find one that immediately grabs your attention. Feel free to email us privately or here, publicly, if you need any further help/support.

  5. Ashley Barnes says:

    Was I abused? This is a bit long. Sorry.
    I haven’t seen my father in years, but the thought of him still frightens me. I don’t know if I was abused by him or not, even if it was just a little.
    When I was younger, he would yell at me and my brother all the time. He would yell at us over little things. He had big anger issues and bipolar disorder, so his mood could change from happy to extremely angry in a matter of seconds. When he would yell at me, he would say hurtful things. He would call me fat and stupid, and after a while, I started to believe it.
    My mom and dad are split up. They absolutely hate each other. I live with my mom and would see my dad every other weekend. My dad would always tell me that my mom is a horrible person and that she was the reason I was so stupid.
    My dad could be scary sometimes. When he was really mad at me, he would grab the back of my neck and pull me so close to his face that our noses were practically touching. He had so much fury in his eyes that I was scared for my safety. Sometimes when he grabbed my neck, he would squeeze so hard that couldn’t breathe. One day, my father embarrassed me in front of one of his friends that was over at our house. I started to get tears in my eyes and tried to hide them so my father couldn’t see them. He saw them anyway and he got very angry. He asked me why I was crying and I tried to deny it. He suddenly grabbed me and told me he would give me something to cry about. He dragged me to my room and bent me over the bed. He grabbed my neck squeezed till I couldn’t breathe. I wheezed out that I couldn’t breathe, but he said that he didn’t care. He then started spanking me very hard (my dad is a very strong man and has huge hands). He went on for so long that I was screaming in pain by the end. He then left the room while I laid on my bed crying. That was one of the times that I remember the most.
    My dad would hit us sometimes. I remember one time that my dad got mad at my brother and smacked him across the face. My brother got a huge gash. My father told us that is people asked about my brother’s face, to tel them that he fell. My dad would also spank us with a belt, and that hurt like hell.
    My father also has a drinking problem. He one time went to jail because he got drunk in public. Ar least, that’s what I what I think happened. I also heard it could have been marijuana. When he would drink, he got more moodier than usual.
    Today, the thought of him makes he have anxiety attacks. One time my teacher got mad at me and my friends because we were talking to much. He said that if we kept on talking, he would be inches from our faces. That comment set me off. I remembered my dad and got tears in my eyes. I got scared of my teacher then. He reminded me of my father. My heart race picked up and I had a small panic attack. It was too small for anyone to notice. But my mood was down for the rest of the day.
    I hate when people touch me, also. When I do see my dad, I especially hate when he touches or hugs me. I just tense up.
    I have huge anger and social issues. I can get mad over little things and I’m not a very social person. My little friends I do have, I wait to see what they are like. I have only told my best friend- who I have known the longest- about my problems, and that’s because I trust her. I have big trust issues, also. I wait to see what someone is like before I can really trust them. My father has done things that ruined my trust in him. He would act like he was nice, but that was just a facade.
    I used to cut myself. I was pained by my fathers actions and I couldn’t help myself.
    I don’t have much else to say, so this is it. In my mind, I can’t see my father’s actions as abuse, but I can’t help it. Please give me your opinion on whether my father abused me or not. Also, do you think I should get help? What I have told you in this topic is only half of what my father did. There are many other things that I didn’t explain. That’s all for now.

  6. Nicola says:

    Why is ‘watching domestic violence’ always defined as – usually – a man beating his female partner? What about children who had to watch their siblings being beaten to a pulp? No site I’ve been on ever acknowledges that witnessing domestic abuse isn’t always seeing the man hitting another adult. They don’t seem to recognize how terrifying it is to see your little sister being smashed about, while the mother refuses to help, denies it’s happening, or even sets the father off in the first place.

  7. Me says:

    Hi, I battle with certain things, I don’t trust what I think or say is true, sorry if that sounds nuts, I remember certain things but then I doubt myself I’m a grown woman with children but this thing has haunted me for years, I don’t think I remember a specific act, although I remember the feeling when I woke up that he had come and gone and touched me where he shouldn’t have, I’m tearing up as I type that and I still doubt my self. I “remember” if I can say it like that, covering myself up over the lower part of my body with a piece of board, another time locking the door, another time thinking I should put drawing pins on the floor, remember lying looking towards the door before going to sleep, another time going to his room and telling him to stop or I’d tell, also thinking in about 3 years he’d be going to the army, another time thinking wearing a sanitary towel would help, so on that I would presume grade 7 or grade 8 time period, I can’t remember seeing him I can’t remember being awake when he did it just knowing he had come and gone, I don’t remember how many times, I don’t remember, I don’t remember I don’t remember!.
    But it’s been about 30 years and it still haunts me, it’s like memories that I have, but I don’t trust they are real, if he had to say I was talking rubbish I would not fight it, I have almost an obsession to find him and see what he’s doing and if he’s around children, and feel guilty what if he did do that to me and I didn’t make it up and now he’s doing that and worse to others and I didn’t say anything, that would be my fault. Someone told me that he had exposed himself to someone around the similar time period, I even battle to accept that I remember that that was what they actually said, I doubt myself in everything, the first time I spoke about it was in 1990 , 4 years after.
    But he lays low under the radar and doesn’t contact family much. I sort of know where he is now but not what he looks like, I want to know what he looks like! Even with all my doubts and lack of trust in myself he would never be allowed near my children!!
    Yet I have this obsession to find out about him, it’s like a story without an ending, I’ve never told my parents.
    It makes me feel crazy, I have started in therapy for depression and stress and this topic has come up bit but bit and the other day I saw a friendship request from him on face book and our therapy session was quite intense.
    My therapist said what does my gut instinct say, I said yes, but them in the same breath I say but I can’t trust that what I’m saying is the truth and not some lie I’m making up, but why would I do that, this is what goes on in my head. Apart of me wants to be in the same room as him to see how I feel and his reaction if any, but I’m also nervous in some way. He feels bigger than me, he is older than me by 4 years, but it doesn’t feel like it’s just about age. My therapist said he thinks I was, I don’t know what I really remember, if it was real or maybe that cannot have been my life it happening to me. I’m tired

  8. Kathleen Riggins says:

    I suggest you join up on the FORUM section and do some reading. You will find (sadly) that you are not alone (which can be a relief in itself). Also, continue reading through the Main Site page. I hope you can all find some measure of peace.

  9. Teri Fale says:

    Can victims of troublesome childhoods have normal adult lives?

  10. Leanne says:

    When I was 15 I was in what I thought was a relationship with a 29 year old man. He picked me up in his car and took me back to his house. I always felt grown up and special and in a way liked it. But now and for the last few years, I’ve started thinking about how wrong it was. I was 15 and still a child. Should he have realised that? I don’t know if it’s abuse or not but I’ve just had a melt down about it after reliving something. I’m now 32 and I couldn’t imagine having a relationship with someone under 16 so in my head I feel like he abused me and made me think some of the things he was getting me to do were ‘normal’ and I felt so grown up doing them. He would pick me up from school sometimes.

  11. Mariam says:

    can someone tell me if this is abuse? im 15 and as a child (around 5 or 6) when my parents were going through divorce i feel as though my mother would take her anger out on me, by hitting me or locking me in a dark room while i cried and slapping me , pulling my hair etc. when i was 8 i decided to go live with my father for a while and he never hit me. one time an uncle came to visit who i think ive surpressed memories of, but thats not significant. when i went back to my mother when i was 11 or 12 i feel as though she never forgave me for leaving her, and would constantly compare me to my father as useless and aloof and a lot of other things. She would still hit me at times and I was usually afraid to be home and would tell me that I was ungrateful and a burden upon her. i started self harming as a way of punishing myself or grounding myself when i was 13. im still afraid of her at times but i feel that as a single mother shes done a lot for us considering how our father doesnt send much money for child support. shes tried her best with us even though she may hurt us at times i feel as though im over reacting ? could someone please help

    • Vera says:

      You are not overreacting and I am sorry this is happening to you. It sounds like abuse from what you are describing. I found this page because I was abused as well, I am 30 now and still dealing with it and still trying to heal. At your age, I was beat by my father regularly and very violent towards others because of it. I know what it’s like to try and make sense of things, “why are they doing this if they love you?”, “is this what all parents do?”, “am I overreacting?”, but the fact is: what she is doing to you is wrong, and will have a negative impact on your life/ future relationships. I would suggest to confide in a close friend or relative you can trust. It feels good to talk about it, even if it may be upsetting, in the long term it will help you heal. It makes it real. It releases pain. It allows you to move on. I hope you are able to get yourself out of that living situation and somewhere safe. I got a job as soon as I could, left at 18, and will never live back in that hell of a home. There is no reason to make excuses for your Mother’s actions, you need to acknowledge that this isn’t right or normal and most importantly it isn’t your fault. There is no reason for her to verbally or physically abuse you, or for it to happen to anyone. I wish you the best of luck.

  12. Alison says:

    Was i abused? I have anxiety disorder, insomnia and have nightmare frequently since I was young( like 5 years old or sth) and I was diagnosed depression and anxiety disorder not until I was 22.

    My mother used to beat me with fire woods, bamboo sticks when I was a young child . The next day, there were marks on my skin. She said the marks would let others know how bad I was. And sometimes she locked me outside the house alone in the dark. Once, she hit me with a little Plastic stick. It broke into two pieces and my lips were bleeding at that time. But she didn’t feel sorry for that.And she never hug me or kisses me when I was a child. She threw away the card I draw her in front of me. And she scold at me and called me names when she had bad moods. She would ignore me for days and made me feel like I was the worse kid in the world if I didnt do things she expected. ( such as not wearing dress to a family meeting, not asking my father money for family expenses, telling my father was giving me a pet for birthday gift)

    But as I can rmb, she had never beaten me up in front of my father. Since I could only see my father once a month when I was young, my mother was the only person I could rely on. When I was 7, my mother moved to another country. i was took care of by grandma. I felt really sad and missed my mother a lot.

    I disccuss the above punishments with her when I grew up. She said that was just fair punishments for being naughty. And she gets really angry everytime I mentioned how bad she had treat me when I was young so I stopped talking about that. And she ascribes My depression to the broke up with my gf and describe me as wired and pathetic.

    I was really confused. She always said she loved me very much and tried her best to raise me up. But I can’t feel it. I always feel I am not loved and they will redundan me if I don’t give them enough money or not doing things they expect

    I am not sure whether my mother was one of the factors to my emotional problems or just I was such a bad daughter to blame her for my own faults. I still cry at midnights sometime when I think about this.

  13. Ath says:

    Was I abused?
    Being thrown on the toilet floor and being slapped in the head by objects, having objects thrown at me, being told that I should leave the house because I didn’t want to follow my parents to a party then being tied with my father’s shirt and being forcively shoved outdoors. Being called stupid and ignorant for taking breaks in-between study and homework sessions. Being kicked in the head multiple times, being slapped, having punches thrown at me. But all for mistakes and not switching off the lights, etc. I find punishment for things like this alright, but is it considered abuse? I don’t think physical abuse was necessary but they had my well-being in mind.

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