Education

DIFFERENT TYPES OF ABUSE AND THE IMPACT ON YOU

We know that any abuse can have a drastically negative impact on your life.  That will become a challenge that you will carry with you from relationship to relationship if not dealt with.  When it comes to domestic violence, the statistics are alarming.  One in nine men and one in four women have been victims of abuse from an intimate partner.  So, when you add in the number of children that have been abused by parents or people abused by family members or others, the number increases dramatically.  If you are a victim of abuse, YOU ARE NOT ALONE!  Many people are affected by an abusive partner. 

During my time of abuse, I did not realize how many people were being affected.  The enemy is very good at distracting our minds and keeping us from knowing the truth.  When others would reach out and offer help, I always had an excuse and listened to the lies of the enemy; believing everything is going to be better.  In my mind, I did not believe that anyone truly knew what I was going through and did not know the person I was married to.  In reality, they did not need to know the person I was married to.  They heard my cries for help and as much as they would pray for me and try to help, I was refusing them.  It is not easy to share your faults with the world and to tell them how wrong you were.  At one point, I thought I knew what was right and I turned my back on the very ones that loved me the most.  I began to shut everyone out who would tell me that I needed to leave; especially those who offered a safe place.  I had listened to the enemy and to the lies for so long that I grew used to the counterfeit comforts and the codependency. Sometimes you need to take immediate action.  Most people have very good intentions when trying to help.  Don’t ignore them and don’t disregard what they are telling you.  God often sends others as a messenger to help intervene.  Do not ever think you are alone…God is always with you and he wants you to talk to him.  There is no right or wrong way to pray or talk to your Jesus.  I do not have any fancy words to pray and I cannot quote you many Bible verses.  That is not what God wants from us.  I cannot say this enough; God does not call the perfect, he calls the willing. 

I am not a professional by any means.  I can only give you my life story, tell you what helped to me and give you my suggestions and thoughts.

#MaybeHeDoesntHitYou recently took off on Twitter, detailing the scary ways some partners try to exercise control in their relationships.  Maybe He doesn’t hit you but he tells you which friends you’re allowed to have, keeps you away from friends and family, manipulates you and devalues you of your thoughts, emotion and feelings.  This coercive control is an ongoing, multipronged strategy of controlling someone’s behavior.  Coercive control doesn’t usually start with physical violence, making it harder for partners to identify whether they are being abused.  However, it often leads to violence.  Coercive control affects women at their psychological, emotional and physical core.  It can be thought of as one person overriding the free-will of their partner and taking advantage of the bond of the relationship.

IDENTIFYING DIFFERENT TYPES OF ABUSE

PHYSICAL ABUSE is one of the easier types that can be identified because of the physical marks left on the body.

MENTAL OR EMOTIONAL ABUSE is a form of domestic violence.  It is when a partner uses mind games to control their loved ones.  Some top statistics of this abuse include:

  • Degradation
  • Causing undue fear
  • Stalking
  • Isolation or refusing to let their loved one go anywhere
  • Humiliation or shaming the person
  • Intimidation
  • Extreme jealousy
  • Blame
  • Insults or name calling

SEXUAL ABUSE

  • Making a person feel bad about themselves
  • Convincing the person to have sex without birth control
  • Physically hurting the person while having sexual relations
  • Sexual activity with someone who is not coherent, is intoxicated or is afraid to say no

CHILD ABUSE is also a form of domestic violence.  It can include psychological, sexual, or physical mistreatment of a child.  This can be done by the parent or any caregiver of the child.  It may be something that is done to or something withheld from the child that can cause some type of harm.  Any child could be the victim of abuse.  Children that are hard of hearing have been found to be at a higher risk of abuse.  Children with disabilities may also be at a greater risk.  Some examples include:

  • Beating, hitting, kicking and slapping
  • Choking and strangling
  • Burning
  • Pulling hair
  • Shaking
  • Throwing and dropping
  • Biting
  • Scratching and pinching
  • Forcing a child to eat or swallow dangerous things

 

CHILD NEGLECT can be complicated and has different categories including:

  • Lack of Education – Keeping a child home from school on a regular basis or not sending them at all.
  • Emotional Neglect – not providing support and nurturing
  • Lack of Medical care
  • Physical Neglect – not providing basic necessities like a safe home and healthy food
  • Supervisory Neglect – when parent ignores things their child is doing that can cause them harm
  • Abandoning or leaving your child alone for long periods of time.

 

ADULT ABUSE is usually done by family members but can also be done by caregivers.  Similar to children, many elderlies are helpless and susceptible to physical, mental, financial and sexual abuse or neglect.  The abuse can include:

  • Physical abuse – inflicting pain or physical restraint
  • Mental or Emotional abuse – causing humiliation, degradation or other emotional trauma
  • Financial or Material abuse – withholding or taking funds from the elderly person
  • Sexual abuse – any type of sexual contact with the elderly person that is not consensual
  • Neglect – withholding care or medication or not meeting their daily needs. Leaving them alone for long periods of time
  • Financial Abuse can be a form of domestic violence. When one person has control of all the bank accounts and their usage or if someone is repeatedly taking your money without your knowledge or using credit cards without permission. Examples include:  Deliberately decreasing a person’s credit score, controlling all household finances and not allowing use of your own money, harassing your partner at work and hurting your partner so they can not work.

 

BULLYING is a mean or aggressive behavior that involves being overpowered.  This can be when a single person picks on one or multiple individuals.  It usually happens on a regular basis and causes the bullied child or adult to be afraid. 

There are many groups for youth services that actively work against bullying. The Administration on Children Youth and Families may be able to help with this as well.  Examples of bullying are:

  • Name calling
  • Pushing and hitting
  • Inciting others to pick on the individual
  • Constant ridicule
  • Intimidation

 

Psychological Abuse
Psychological abuse is often known as emotional abuse.  This is when people abuse their victims by manipulating them.  Instead of using physical force, they tend to isolate from friends and family, gaslight or threaten them.  Verbal abuse may also be used as part of their tactics. While psychological abuse is a form of domestic abuse that does not leave physical scars and proof, it is till incredibly damaging to the victim.  They can end up feeling like they’re going crazy and can have their entire life controlled through fear from the other person.  It can be difficult to realize if you’re the victim of psychological abuse because your abuser is likely to make you feel like the problems in your relationship are your fault.  They may be able to make you feel that you’re the one causing the issues.  This makes it difficult to get to the point of acknowledging that there is a problem in your relationship.  This is how the abuse can maintain power and control.

If you believe that you’re the victim of psychological abuse and you want to leave the relationship, it can take some pre-planning in order to be successful.  You won’t want to tell your partner that you’re leaving until you do safety planning.  It’s not easy to leave psychological abuse and you may find that your abuser lashes out in anger. 

Technological Abuse
This form of abuse includes the use of technology to control and stalk a partner.  Technological abuse can happen to people of all ages, but it is more common among teenagers who use technology and social media to interact in a manner often unmonitored by adults.  Examples:

  • Hacking into a partner’s email and personal accounts
  • Using tracking devices in a partner’s cell phone to monitor their location, phone calls and messages
  • Monitoring interactions via social media
  • Demanding to know partner’s passwords

 

Abuse by Immigration Status
There are specific tactics of abuse that may be used against immigrant partners including:

  • Destroying immigration papers
  • Restricting partner from learning English
  • Threatening to hurt partner’s family
  • Threatening to have partner deported.

It is important to remember, that in the United States, undocumented immigrants have rights and protections.  In the case of an emergency, contacting the police should be a priority.

Cultural Abuse
Cultural abuse happens when abusers use aspects of a victim’s particular cultural identity to inflict suffering or as a means of control.  Such as:

  • Not letting your partner observe the dietary or dress customs of their faith
  • Using racial slurs
  • Threatening to “out” someone as LGBQ/T
  • Isolating someone who doesn’t speak the dominant language where they live

 

Coercive control
Coercive control affects women at their psychological, emotional and physical core.  Examples:

  • Partner demands that you take your time. When asking how it was spent, they assume you must be hiding something if you leave out any details.  A woman may limit what she does without her partner in order to avoid getting the third degree.
  • Your partner freaks out when he can’t reach you whenever he feels like it. Coercive controllers will use any excuse to make it seem like their partner is ignoring them or doing something they shouldn’t be doing.  If a text or call isn’t returned right way, it would certainly be brought to your attention.
  • Financial Abuse
  • Your partner tries to keep you from your friends and family. This can be done subtly by regularly pointing out the faults of loved ones or by straight up making it clear they are not a fan.  A coercive controller often doesn’t want their partner near her friends and family because the abuser can’t easily control what a loved one might say about the relationship.
  • Your partner makes you question your sanity – also known as gaslighting. This is an extremely effective form of emotional abuse that causes a victim to question their own feelings, instinct and sanity.    This can surface in the form of comments like, “Are you sure that’s what happened?” or “You have a really bad memory.”  This gives the abusive partner a lot of power and may make the victim more likely to stay in the relationship because they don’t trust their own perceptions.

 

Who are the abusers?
The abusers may be a loved one such as a husband, wife or intimate partner.  They could also be a parent, grandparent, sibling or other relative.  It could also be a teacher, coach or family friend.  It is impossible to tell who an abuser may be because many times they act just like everyone else.

However, there are some risk factors that you can watch for.  Many times, abusers are people that have suffered from abuse in their own past.  They may have been cruel to animals or other children when they were young.  They may have unpredictable behavior.  Abusers might believe they are better than others and suffer from extreme jealousy.  They can be known for having a bad temper, very controlling and likely to be bad at conflict resolution.

The commonly held definition of abuse:  a pattern of behavior used by one person to gain and maintain power and control over another.  One thing to remember about this definition is that we are talking about a pattern of behavior.  Not just incidents. 

It’s important to remember that abuse can happen in any relationship and that healthy relationships do not include abuse.  Do not allow your abuser to convince you that it’s ok, normal OR your fault.  When you start a relationship, it is fine to begin setting boundaries and be completely clear on what you need and want out of your relationship.  An abuser will need to learn proper conflict resolution and violence prevention if they want to overcome being an abuser.  There is help for them as well.  Anyone can reach out for therapy so they are no longer abusive.

There is counseling for every type of abuse; physical, sexual, psychological and even financial.  The best way to help is to talk about it but that is difficult for many victims.  It may take years before a victim is able to talk about what happened to them.

The Effects of Abuse
The effects of abuse vary depending on the type, length and severity.  It can also vary based on the victim.  Different people have different reactions.  Some people may come through abuse with very little effects at all but most have mental scars and possibly physical scars as well.  The physical scars of domestic violence are usually visible right away.  These include:

  • Bruises, cuts and burns
  • Broken bones
  • Black eyes
  • Tooth loss
  • Head trauma or brain damage
  • Blindness

The psychological scars of abuse may take longer to manifest and may last forever if treatment is not received.  Some of the most common psychological scars from domestic violence include:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Acting out (misbehaving or criminal issues)
  • Risky behavior and/or sexual promiscuity
  • Drug and alcohol abuse
  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
  • Mood or personality disorders
  • Fear of relationships
  • Lack of self esteem

Many victims of domestic violence and abuse have post-traumatic stress disorder and do not even know it.  The signs of this disorder include:

  • Flashbacks and nightmares
  • Guilt and shame
  • Headaches and memory loss
  • Insomnia and extreme fatigue
  • Feelings of extreme anger or irritation
  • Avoiding people and public places along with an inability to trust anyone
  • Depression, anxiety and stress
  • Unexplained bouts of crying
  • Nausea
  • Nervousness, shaking, trembling, heart palpitations and chest pain
  • Dizziness or fainting
  • Chronic pain

Most victims of abuse will tell you that the psychological scars of abuse are worse than the physical scars because they never go away and even though they are unseen to the naked eye, they are just as painful.  Law enforcement can also be contacted in an emergency situation.  Any abuse that is experienced is abuse that needs to stop.  Online therapy has been proven to reduce symptoms of trauma caused by abuse. 

Treatment for abuse victims
The best way to help is to talk about it to a caring professional which is not easy.  It may take years before a victim is able to talk about what happened to them.  In fact, even if the abuse happened ten or twenty years ago it may seem like it is still going on for them if they have not gotten treatment.  There is no period of time where the effects of abuse simply go away.  For many people, they feel the effects for the rest of their lives.  This is true for youth, families and individuals.  If you’re still in the abusive relationship, an important first step can be creating a safety plan.  This can help you to know what steps you can take to remain safe while addressing your situation.  Safety planning can help you to feel empowered to protect yourself and take the necessary steps to end the abusive relationship.  Whether you’re experiencing domestic violence in your marriage, dating or abuse of a different kind, the National Domestic Violence Hotline can help you to create a safety plan that you can follow.  They can also inform you about the relationship spectrum which explains the difference between healthy and abusive relationships and how to tell the difference.

Before you talk to a therapist, it may be beneficial to be completely clear about what you want out of your therapy.  One of the most effective treatments for abuse is cognitive behavioral therapy.  This is a form of talk therapy that helps you deal with depression and anxiety by interrupting the link between the mind and the body when you are under stress.  In other words, it is psychotherapy that teaches you how to focus on your thoughts and behaviors so you can take control of them.  It is a way of breaking the connection between your bad memories of the past and the feelings and behaviors of the present and future.  It may not be able to help with violence prevention but can help determine when abuse and domestic violence is occurring. 

One important fact about abuse victims is that many do not want to leave the safety of their home.  After being in an abusive situation and finally finding a place where they feel safe, many victims have a hard time going outside of that space.  The type of abuse people endure can have a long-lasting effect on how they behave.  Therefore, online therapy can be a major blessing for them.  Being able to talk to a therapist from the safety of their home gives people more security and the chances of their treatment being successful is much higher.  Online therapy can help families and youth and is suited for anyone to utilize.  It has the same informed consent principles present with face to face therapy.  Informed consent refers to information, in the form of a document, that is given to someone before they take part in therapy, before given a prescription, before a medical procedure or before taking part in an experiment.  It explains the risk and purposes of what is being done.  In fact, many victims of abuse cancel their appointments over and over again if they are seeing a therapist outside their home.  This is true for many patients with mental health disorders.  On line therapy has become a lifesaver to these people and many others like them because they would not have gotten therapy otherwise.  You can take advantage of online chat, text messages, or other ways to connect with a professional counselor.

Conclusion
There is never an excuse for abuse.  There is a big difference between healthy relationships and those that involve abuse.  Some people stay in abusive relationships because they feel like that is all there is or what they deserve.  Neither of these are true.  I you are a victim of abuse, seek the help that you need to have a full recovery.  You are worth it.  Take the first step. 

US Government’s role in helping fight abuse
The US Government’s Department of Justice works to enforce the law including protecting victims of abuse.  There are agencies under the Department of Justice that work in this area including the Department of Health and Human Services and the Office on Violence Against Women.  The Administration on Children Youth and Families can also aid in taking care of children.  There may be other local family and youth services for you to take advantage of in your city and state as well.  Law enforcement can also help families and youth to physically leave an abuser and get to a safer place.

What is the Power and Control Wheel?
The Power and Control Wheel is a tool that can be used to help people recognize patterns of abuse.  Many people think of domestic violence as only physical violence.  This is one of the reasons why the phrase “domestic abuse” is starting to be used instead of “domestic violence”.  It incorporates more than just physical violence and includes all of the tactics that an abuser uses to maintain power and control within the relationship.

What are the signs of abuse?
The signs of abuse will vary based on the type of domestic violence is being used. Physical abuse usually results in physical signs.  However, the Power and Control Wheel shows that there are many different types of unhealthy and dangerous behaviors that are a part of abuse.  Some signs may include:

  • Second guessing yourself and not being able to make decisions
  • Losing your connection with family and friends
  • Loss of self-confidence
  • Self-harm or sudden change in behavior
  • Increased anxiety or depression

If you think you may be in an abusive relationship, it’s important to get help so you can remain physically and mentally healthy.  If you see signs of abuse in your relationship, it is important to create a safety plan.  While staying home may feel like the easiest thing to do, it’s often not the best way to stay safe.

What type of abuse is the hardest to detect?
From the outside looking in, any type of abuse can be difficult to detect.  While physical violence often leaves physical scars, it can still be easy for victims to cover them up or try staying home so others don’t see them.

When it comes to domestic violence in the form of psychological abuse, it is not as easy to see.  Many times, the person that is being abused isn’t sure that abuse is happening either. While some friends and family may be able to see the behavior from the outside, it’s often hard for the victim to realize what’s happening.  Whether it’s easy or hard to detect, all abusive relationships are unacceptable and need to be stopped.  If you believe that you may be the victim of abuse, don’t hesitate to reach out for help.  Talk to your trusted friends and family or speak with a mental health professional.