This section is about abuse.
What is "abuse"?
Most people know the answer to this question, but not always the full answer.
Abuse comes in 3 forms: Physical, Emotional, and Mental.
We all know what physical abuse is. It's the best known type of abuse. It may also be the most common type, but I doubt it. It's generally the most noticeable, but it's not always easy to notice. Sometimes it's easy to notice, but it gets "explained" in one way or another, usually as an accident. If someone appears to be very accident prone, it's very possible there may be a problem.
Emotional abuse is when someone's feelings get hurt. Everyone gets hurt now and then because it's a part of day to day life, but it doesn't have to be. There will always be someone to say something they didn't need to say. It's almost never necessary to say something negative to someone. I fully agree with the statement "if you don't have something good to say, don't say anything", but even I am human and have said things I wanted to take back.
There's only 1 problem. Once it is said, it can't be taken back. You can apologize, and the other person may even forgive you, but it's almost impossible to forget, especially if it came from a loved one. , any time you are about to say anything that will hurt the other person in any way, think first. You'll find that most of the time you won't say it. Why? Because saying something abusive never makes anything better. Even if someone did something, or didn't do something, and they need to be told it was wrong, it doesn't have to be abusive.
Another form of emotional abuse is the opposite, not saying things that need to be said. The best example is "I love you". A lot of people don't hear that phrase often enough. I've heard people say "He/she knows I love him/her.", and in many cases they do know. There are 2 arguments to that statement though. First, how do you know that they know? Second, even if they do know, most people like to hear that phrase once in a while.
Mental abuse can be a type of abuse of it's own, but is usually part of, or related to, the first 2. Most people can handle some physical and emotional abuse, but everyone has a limit. Physical abuse is physical harm to the body. Emotional abuse is harm to the persons heart, or their feelings. Mental abuse is doing harm to the brain, and it is very real. When someone is hurt physically or emotionally beyond what they can cope with, it can affect the brain. If it goes too far, it can reach a point where the person may never again be able to live a normal life, or the person may just decide to not live at all.
A lot of mentally unstable patients in psychiatric hospitals are there because they just couldn't handle life. They've been subjected to more abuse than they could withstand and sometimes take their life because it's the only way out. Even people who are only being subjected to "a little" abuse may have long term changes to their life because of it. Some people get involved in things they normally wouldn't as an escape from the real world. Many people end up being abusive themselves because they grow up to think "it's normal".
How can I help victims?
If you know someone is being abused in any way, there are various things you can do. If you think someone is being abused, the first thing you need to do is find out if they are being abused. If you aren't sure, and you do talk to the person, you could talk about abuse, maybe by talking about a news story, and see how they react. You could just ask them, but frequently they don't think they are being abused because they think it's normal. You could have them read this page. If you don't talk to that person, you may need to tell someone who can do something, or who does know that person, and see if they will help.
If you know there is abuse, what you can do depends on many things like the age of the person being abused, The relationship between the abuser and the victim, and how serious the abuse is.
Read the next part "What if I'm a victim?" for some ideas on what you can do. If you have any questions, please contact me and I will try to help out, or direct you to someone who can help.
What if I'm a victim?
If you are being abused in any way, and to any extent, it does not need to continue. Even if you think you deserve it, or if you think it's normal to be slapped, punched, yelled at, or humiliated, it's not normal. So, how do you stop it?
As usual, what to do depends on the circumstances. Here are some general guidelines to help you think of what you can do. If you need more information, or further advice, please feel free to contact me.
The most direct thing to do is let the abuser know you want it to stop, if that is possible. Do they know what they are doing? Surprisingly, in some cases like parent/child situations, they don't know. The parent may have been raised being abused and think that's how to raise their child. Sometimes a husband beats his wife because his parents did that. In either case, that's not an excuse, but sometimes they really don't know they are doing something wrong. If you think that person may not know they are doing something wrong, sometime when they are not in their "bad mood", ask them. Be careful though. If they start to get grumpy, drop the subject.
If the abuser doesn't believe they are doing something wrong, or if they know, but think they have the right to, you will need to go to another person who can step in. There are various people you can go to. In serious cases, probably the best choice is the police, but only if you are ready to put the abuse to an end. What you can try is finding someone who is willing to help, and talk to them. It may be a friend or relative, a doctor, counsellor, or even a lawyer. Find someone you can be open with and who is willing to listen. It's usually hard for a victim to know what to do, but easier for a 3rd party to look at the situation from the right point of view to make decisions. Often the abuser can be helped just by having another person to convince them they need help.
If the abuser refuses to accept the fact that there is a problem, the law may be the only thing that will work. The problem with this choice is that you need to be ready to speak up. If it's a husband beating wife case, for example, and the wife calls the police, it will only cause problems if action isn't taken. If the police come to the door and you decide to drop it, the husband will be angry and will take it out on you. Only take this action if other ideas haven't worked or if the abuse is serious. Make sure you are ready to go through with your actions. Just remember, he DOES NOT have the right to beat you.
In a parent/child case, if the parent won't accept the fact that what they are doing is wrong, and a third person can't change anything, the best thing to do is go to a children's aid or social service agency.
If you want to talk to someone, but don't know who to talk to, please contact me and I will try to help or direct you to someone who can.
What if I'm hurting someone?
If you are hurting someone and you know you are, you've already made the first, and the biggest, step. If you want to quit, congratulations, you're headed in the right direction. Being an abuser doesn't make you a bad person. Being an abuser who doesn't want to stop does. The next step to stopping the abuse is to figure out why you do it.
There are several reasons why you might be hurting another person. Maybe you were raised the same way. Maybe through your growing up years you acquired a bad way or attitude. Maybe you are just under so much tension or pressure that you just can't keep your anger under control. If you know what makes you hurt the other person you've just about made it over the mountain and are almost ready to go down the other side. If you don't know why you hurt them, you need to talk to someone soon.
If you know you are hurting someone, and you do want to quit, sometimes the best person to talk to first is the one you've been hurting. They want to help you stop more than anyone else does, unless they have been brainwashed into thinking the abuse is normal. Have a long serious discussion with the person you've been hurting, talk about everything, what you do, why you do it, even let them tell you what's on their mind. Right from the beginning though, both of you MUST agree that if the discussion gets too heated up, it will be stopped before it gets too far. Let things cool down and try again later.
Sometimes this is as far as you need to go. Knowing you need to change, and the 2 of you working on it together, can finish the job, but it's not always that easy. Maybe you want to stop but you can't. Maybe you can stop, but not all the time. You may need professional help, sometimes therapy, sometimes medication, maybe both. The brain does not work like a computer. Computers either work or don't work. The brain is so complicated that any of a multitude of things can cause it to not work properly. Your brain may be perfectly normal but you are just so used to being you that it's too hard to change. Maybe there is a chemical imbalance in your brain that does make it hard for you to be "normal".
If you can't COMPLETELY stop the abuse without outside help, get professional help. Years ago, admitting we need help was very degrading. It's a known fact now that a large percentage of people at one time or another need help of some kind. The first step would be to see your doctor. Tell him as much as you can. He can direct you to the proper specialist. Maybe you just need therapy sessions to relearn right and wrong. Maybe you need medication to provide for a chemical imbalance, or to help control your temper. No matter what the reason is, most people who go to a specialist to get help can be helped. You probably love the person you are hurting, and they probably love you too. When the hurting is stopped that love can be 1000 times greater.
I need to talk to someone.
Whether you are hurting someone, being hurt by someone, or know someone who is being hurt, physically, emotionally, or mentally, if you read the above notes and still have questions, or don't know what to do, or don't know who to talk to, please don't be afraid to contact me. Use the contact page here, let me know a little about you and the situation, and I will get back to you. You don't need to give full details if you don't want to. Start with the basics and if any further information is needed for me to help, I'll let you know.
Websites that may be of interest.
Some links will be here by the end of October.
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