Treating the effects of abuse often requires a multifaceted approach. Every case is different and requires individual considerations. Learning more about the signs and symptoms of abuse can be helpful for everyone including those in seemingly healthy relationships. The articles below offer a good starting point for doing this.
Medically Reviewed By: Aaron Horn, LMFT, MA
What is Abuse?
Abuse is the intentional harm of a person. The individual can be of any age, including children, adults and even the elderly. Abuse is by definition harmful to the victims and leaves them with a feeling of helplessness. If know that you or a loved one is being abused, speak up. Do not stay silent and hope that it stops on its own. Abusers tend to escalate their behaviors and get worse with time. There are often dire consequences when people stay in abusive relationships. There are several forms of abuse and it is important to recognize them so that you can get help if you need it. We can fight abuse by knowing the signs. Here are some different forms of abuse.
Physical abuse is when someone intentionally physically harms another person. It could include hitting, punching, or any physical violence. Even disciplining children can get out of hand and fall into the category of physical abuse. People who physically abuse others will often attempt to hide or disguise the marks that they leave on their victims. These marks are more than skin deep however. The lasting effects of physical abuse can lead to lifelong fear and anxiety in the victim.
Sexual abuse is the sexual exploitation of another person. Consent is essential when it comes to sexual abuse. No means no! If there is no consent, then a sexual act is a violation of a person’s body. A young child or a person who has passed out from drugs or alcohol cannot give consent and falls into this category too. The sexual act could be intercourse, fondling, or any sexual advance or action. Sexual abuse is wrong, and it’s important to get the help you need to protect yourself. By speaking up, you can also help prevent the abuser from hurting another person.
Emotional abuse occurs when a person verbally attacks another person. It can be a child, adult, or even the elderly. They might belittle the person or call them names. Emotional abuse is often hidden from other people because of feelings of shame or doubt. Although you cannot see or touch the scars, but they are there. Emotional abuse severely affects a person’s self-esteem and ability to function. An emotionally abused person often does not know how to fight back because abusers tend to convince them that they are helpless.
Medical abuse is when a person in a position of authority conveys false information about another individual’s health. A person who is medically abused is not receiving the adequate healthcare they deserve because they have been misled. Medical abuse is a form of neglect.
Neglect can happen to someone of any age. It is the failure to provide basic needs. Neglect often happens in child abuse cases, where the parents or guardians fail to provide for the child’s basic needs such as food, shelter, clothing, education, or medical care. Neglect can happen to older adults and the disabled community as well.
Child abuse is the intentional or unintentional harm of a minor, a person under the age of 18. It is heartbreaking, and it happens to many children. Forms of child abuse include physical, emotional, sexual, and neglect. Symptoms of child abuse include:
- Withdrawal from activities with peers
- Aggressive behavior
- Absent from school
- Running away
- Rebellious behavior
- Suicide attempts
If you suspect a child is being abused, it is crucial to tell someone about it. You can call a school counselor, the police, or child protective services. Do not stay silent; you could save a child’s life.
Domestic violence or domestic abuse occurs within a home or family unit. It is a severe form of harm to another person, and it happens to people of all ages. Sometimes partners abuse each other or parents abuse their children. Don’t be fooled about the word ‘violence.” The term encompasses all forms of abuse, whether it is violent or not. For example, mental and emotional abuse falls under the category of domestic violence because it’s hurting people. Domestic violence is a serious problem, and it includes all forms of abuse mentioned above. If you are in a toxic domestic environment, it is imperative to seek help. You can visit Safe Horizon or The Hotline for resources and support with domestic violence.
Online counseling is an excellent place to talk about your feelings. If you are in an abusive environment, your counselor can help you figure out how to get help. If you have experienced abuse or trauma in your past, a licensed online counselor at BetterHelp can support you in your healing journey. You don’t have to suffer alone. Search our network of experienced counselors and get help now.