Abuse: 1) the improper use of something 2) cruel and violent treatment of a person or animal
Abuse is a highly charged concept. Many people understand abuse to be physical, as in the stereotype of the man who beats his wife leaving her with a black eye or bruises. A lot of stigma surrounds the word, too, which makes it difficult to talk about. In Christian churches, things can get even more complicated, since the word “abuse” is not used in the Bible like we use it today. An equivalent Biblical word is “oppression,” however; and Scripture does talk extensively about that.
Here are some of the big concepts it is important to understand about abuse and the abuse dynamic, and some other words we can use to describe it.
- Abuse is oppression. Oppression is coercion; and abuse, oppression, and coercion all amount to misuse of another person.
- Abuse silences and suppresses the views, voice, and opinions of the other person in the relationship.
- Abuse as a pattern in a relationship plays out over time, and can’t be clearly seen or understood in any one instant in time during a relationship.
- An abusive relationship is characterized by abusive behaviors, and abusive behaviors are always bad; but isolated examples of abusive behaviors do not necessarily mean there is an abusive relationship.
- Abusive relationships are characterized by the destruction of people in them, and usually by a power imbalance, where one person gets and maintains an advantage over the other, and to the detriment of the other.
Abusive Behaviors include:
- Cold Shoulder
- Silent Treatment
- Threatening (people, pets, property)
- Reckless Driving
- Suicide Threats
- Destroying Property
- Killing or hurting animals
- Controlling Jealousy
- Controlling Finances
- Punching, Hitting, “Slapping around”
- Grabbing, Holding, Restraining
- Name Calling
- to be continued….