Many people hear the word “abuse” and immediately think of physical abuse. It is well known that physical abuse may occur between romantic partners, as well as a parent abusing a child. As tragic as these forms of abuse are, the definition of abuse does not end there.
Abuse in romantic situations is not exclusively “man abusing woman.” Women are capable of abusing men. Abuse may occur in homosexual relationships. Child abuse is far too common of a problem, but it is not exclusively committed by parents. Family members, friends, babysitters, and even teachers may be abusers. One surprising form of abuse that is often overlooked is elder abuse. This occurs when a caregiver is abusive to, negligent of, or takes advantage of an elderly adult who is dependent on another person to provide care.
Abuse does not only vary in terms of who may be affected by it. There are many forms of abuse. Physical abuse is the one that most people associate with the word “abuse.” This is physical force that has the desired result of injury or pain and is often used to control the victim. Sexual abuse occurs when any form of non-consensual sexual contact is inflicted, whether by force or manipulation. It is easy to see how these two forms of abuse may cause physical pain. Other forms of abuse, however, those that do not directly involve one person deliberately, physically harming another, are still capable of leading to physical pain. Neglect is when a person who is responsible for the care and well-being of another person refuses or simply fails to fulfill caregiving obligations. Negligence may include failure to provide adequate nutrition, water, medical attention, clothing, shelter, or personal safety. This may lead to physical pain by means of medical complications, such as:
Poor personal hygiene, which may cause or complicate issues such as infection
Disease or injury from unsanitary living conditions, including possibility of animal or insect infestations
Emotional or psychological abuse refers to infliction of pain or distress through verbal or nonverbal actions. This may include insults, intentional embarrassment, threats, intimidation, or enforcing isolation from family, friends, or peers. This treatment is clearly capable of making a person feel bad about themselves, or even worthless, but it has a surprising ability to inflict physical pain. Emotional abuse has been linked to chronic pain conditions, stomachaches, headaches, and chronic gastrointestinal disorders, such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) or ulcers.
Abuse in any form is not okay and may have long lasting effects. Many medical professionals recommend survivors of abuse receive therapy. There are many organizations to help victims get out of abusive situations, including the YWCA, local domestic violence shelters, and in many cases, even universities have resources to aid in these situations.