Wednesday, April 20, 2011

What Is Abuse?

I am very aware of how differently that question can be answered depending on who is answering and their frame of reference. I want to spend time today talking about physical abuse. This seems to be what most people think about when they think about domestic violence although it is only one form of abuse that domestic violence victims suffer.

The definition of physical abuse in Wikipedia is: abuse involving contact intended to cause feelings of intimidation, pain, injury, or other physical suffering or bodily harm.

Most often when we think of physical abuse we think of some very obvious ways such as hitting, punching, slapping, pushing, and choking. However there are other less thought of forms of physical abuse such as biting, denying needed medical care, depriving a person of sleep, or forcing someone to use drugs or alcohol against their will as well as attempts to drown, exposure to heat and cold, and poison. Unfortunately, the ways that abusers physically abuse their partners makes a long list. The clients that we serve have experienced all of these types of abuse, and more.

What we know from our experience in this work is that the abuse often doesn’t start as physical; it often starts as emotional abuse and then over time progresses into the physical realm. Research also shows that as the relationship continues, the abuse will most likely become progressively worse and intensify in severity. What may start out as a push or slap will most likely progress to shoving, punching and worse.

Much of our work with clients focuses on education and safety planning. We want to put them in the best position to make the necessary decisions about their lives and their future. Understanding the abuse is the first step in moving toward a life free of abuse.

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