Types of Abuse: Am I Being Abused?

I’m going to briefly define all the major types of abuse (neglect, verbal, emotional, physical, sexual) and then share some sort of example.

Neglect: not providing you with the basics

Earlier this summer, both my dad and I were away from home so my sister was alone with my mother.  My mum didn’t buy any food and there was none in the house because she had donated it all to her church.  My sister asked my mum to buy food but she couldn’t be bothered and just went out for meals without Morgan (my sister).  So, she went hungry until I got home, found out my sister had barely eaten in a week, and went out to buy groceries with my own money.

Not being fed is neglect.  Not having a bed is neglect.  Not having clothing is neglect.  Not having parental supervision when your young enough to need it is neglect.  Anything else where you have a very basic need not being met (obviously things like not going to see a movie does not fall under this category) is neglect.  Even not being there for your child emotionally (comforting him/her) can fall under this category.

Verbal Abuse: making you feel bad about yourself as a rule*

*Sometimes parents can be idiots and say something thoughtless that hurts you but if they apologize and it rarely occurs, then you’re okay.

My mum often would sit me down (she can’t anymore because I’ve moved out) and tell me that I was spiteful, destroying the family, disrespectful, nosy, etc.  This all made me feel like I was really a Disney villain on the inside (pure evil with no redeeming qualities) and only she could see it.

This can also include belittling your accomplishments, calling you worthless, making fun of you.  Basically, if you wouldn’t say it to someone, then your parent shouldn’t be saying it to you.  It is okay for them to point out when your actions are not acceptable but with verbal abuse your parent is saying that YOU are unacceptable and usually the words are not rooted in fact (if you stole a bike, your parent could tell you that that is an unkind thing to do but a verbally abusive parent would call their child a cruel monster without any basis).

Emotional Abuse: actions rather than words that make you feel terrible about yourself

A good example of this is when a parent gets mad at you for something real or imagined and rather than punishing you in a normal way (taking away a privilege within reason) or talking to you about what you did, they give you the silent treatment for an indefinite period of time.  This could also include insane punishments: my mother once threatened to stop feeding me or taking me to the doctor because I wasn’t being respectful enough.

Emotional abuse and verbal abuse go hand in hand so if your not sure which it is, don’t worry.  I’m just trying to give the full scope so that everyone’s situation can be addressed.

Physical Abuse: causing you physical pain* in a nonsexual manner**

*I am not in favor of corporal punishment but there is a huge difference between spanking a child lightly to teach them right from wrong and smacking a child’s face because they are annoying you after a tiring day.

**Physical and sexual abuse can often go together. This is horribly graphic so don’t read it if you are a very sensitive person. Some girls are burnt with cigarettes inside their vaginas as “punishment.” That combines both forms.

So this is hitting, kicking, pinching, hair pulling, grabbing really hard, shaking.  Basically if it hurts and doesn’t fall under the realm of a brief, light pain to deter you from doing something bad, then it’s physical abuse. Also, if you’re out of elementary school, corporal punishment isn’t really used anymore so any sort of physical pain your parents cause you is abuse.

Sexual Abuse: taking away your right to your body

If someone touches you anywhere that you don’t want to be touched (be it a sexual organ or just anywhere that you want to be private), forces you to have sex, forces you to watch porn, forces you to watch them having sex, forces you to touch them in places or ways that make you uncomfortable.

Basically, if the action frightens you or makes you uncomfortable and seems sexual to you (even if it doesn’t strictly follow the sexual organ model that everyone learns in school), it’s sexual abuse*.

*Someone may not realize a place is private to you but if you tell them and they continue to violate your wishes, it’s sexual abuse.

That was pretty heavy but I hope it helps.  If you have questions, feel free to comment or ask me directly.  A good rule of thumb though is that if you think it’s abuse, it probably is.  This is because your brain always minimizes trauma so that you can function, so if something is so bad that your brain can’t minimize it then it must be pretty awful.  And, if you are unsure, ask someone you trust.  It may feel embarrassing, but you’d be surprised how many people have gone through similar things and whether they have the experience or not they will admire your courage.  But if it’s still too scary, look it up.

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