SAAM – Sexual Assault, Abuse Molestation

Basic Information ON ABUSE SEXUAL Abuse
Abuse occurs when people mistreat or misuse other people, showing no concern for their integrity or innate worth as individuals, and in a manner that degrades their well being. Abusers frequently are interested in controlling their victims. They use abusive behaviors to manipulate their victims into submission or compliance with their will.

Abusers control and compel their victims in a variety of ways. They may verbally abuse them by calling them names, tell them they are stupid, have no worth or will not amount to anything on their own. They may become physically violent, inflicting pain, bruises, broken bones and other physical wounds (visible and hidden both). They may rape or sexually assault their victims. Alternatively they may neglect dependent victims, disavowing any responsibilities they may have towards those victims, and causing damage through lack of action rather than through a harmful, manipulative action itself.

Abuse is a commonplace event in modern times, taking on many different forms, including physical, sexual, emotional, and verbal abuse, occurring in many different contexts, including the home (domestic violence, spouse rape, incest), the workplace (sexual harassment), and in institutional (elder abuse, bullying) and religious and community (hate crime) settings. It touches victims across the lifespan from children through elders. Abuse is a serious social and cultural problem affecting everyone whether as a victim of abuse, a perpetrator, a friend or confidant of an abused person looking for ways to be helpful, or simply as someone who is angered by injustice and wants to work for positive change.

If you are currently being abused, or have been abused in the past, you should know that you do not suffer alone. Right now millions of people around the world struggle to maintain dignity, safety and self-worth in the face of ongoing abuse. Millions more people struggle to recover from wounds they have sustained during past abuse. You should also know that help is available for victims of abuse, although it is not always easy to access. Community abuse resources (such as domestic violence shelters), mental health professionals, law enforcement, and various other organizations, websites and printed resources can provide instruction and assistance for people who need help removing themselves from abusive situations.

Victims of abuse often find themselves dealing with serious psychological and physical consequences of having been abused. There are various forms of counseling, psychotherapy, medical and self-help resources available for people who have been abused and want assistance and support for managing problems and issues they have developed as a result of being abused Such post-abuse issues are sometimes called ‘abuse sequela’ by health professionals. While no therapy is capable of erasing the effects of abuse, such resources can provide real and meaningful assistance in helping to minimize the negative effects of abuse. Helpful abuse-related resources can be found throughout this document, in the appendix of abuse-related resources provided at the end of this document, and in the lists of other (non-document) resources collected within this abuse topic center.

Some people aren’t sure if they are being or have been abused. They may know that they have been harmed, but they may think that they deserved that harm, for instance, or perhaps think instead that some degree of harm is acceptable or reasonable, or just inevitable. Though it is not possible for us to give you a definite answer to any questions you may have about what is abuse and what is not abuse, consider that people who haven’t been abused don’t tend to spend much time wondering whether they have been abused, while a many people who have been abused (or are being abused) do wonder about it. If you are upset enough to wonder about it, it is likely (although not definite) that you have been abused. We’ll explore the definition of abuse in greater detail later in this document.


Abuse Defined

in the most general sense, the term ‘abuse’ describes a particular type of relationship between two things. An abusive relationship is one where one thing mistreats or misuses another thing. The important words in this definition are “mistreat” and “misuse”; they imply that there is a standard that describes how things should be treated and used, and that an abuser has violated that standard.

For the most part, only human beings are capable of being abusive, because only human beings are capable of understanding how things should be treated in the first place and then violating that standard anyway. Animals in nature, and nature itself may be very violent and destructive at times but in an unconscious, irresponsible sort of way; they cannot act otherwise. Natural violence is not intentional, but all too often, human violence is.

Various types of abuse are possible, including self-abuse and abuse of others. From a practical and social point of view, abuse that harms other people or animals is worse than self-abuse. If people want to abuse themselves or some inanimate thing they own, they mostly harm themselves. If, however, they choose to abuse a being (a person or animal which can feel pain) in a similar manner, they end up harming that being. This is a very bad thing for several reasons: first because it harms that other being, and second because it violates a ‘social contract’ based on a common understanding, drawn from various religious, ethical and enlightened government principles and traditions, that hold out the idea that human beings are not things to be owned, but rather beings having innate rights and worth as independent creatures who are all roughly equal (under God). Such standards help protect people from arbitrary abuse from people who are more powerful then they are. If it is okay for a strong person to abuse a relatively weaker one “just because,” then it is equally okay for an even stronger person to abuse that abuser. There would be no end to the violence under such a scenario. By insisting on the relative equality and rights of all beings (even for owned animals to some limited extent), no one being has the right to abuse another, and abusive violence is minimized. This ‘social contract’ is an important part of the basis of civilization itself.

Abusive actions one person makes towards another are generally intended to control the victim, or to make the victim submit to the power of that abuser. Such actions are abusive, because it is against the notion of equality of human worth to say that one person should be able to control another against the victim’s will.

Keeping these definitions in mind, some actions are easy to identify as abusive, and some are not. For instance, it seems safe enough to say that a spouse should never strike his or her spouse, or put him or her down verbally; such actions are always abusive. It is also easy enough to say that all instances of forced sexual behavior (particularly where children are involved) are abusive, and that neglect of children and dependent elder’s well-being is abusive.

It is harder to define abuse in other circumstances, however. It is a parent’s duty to teach their children how to behave properly; to not do so would be neglectful. It is highly controversial whether corporal punishment (striking children) is an acceptable method for disciplining children. It doesn’t seem reasonable to say that all instances of corporal punishment are always abusive. Some parents who use corporal punishment may do so for very legitimate reasons and under appropriate circumstances. However, it is equally clear that some parents do cross the line into true abusiveness with their corporal punishment practices. Seeking out the consensus opinion of respected others in the local community and the nation is probably the best means of determining whether an ambiguously abusive action is abusive or not.

There are individual difference between people in terms of their comfort level with ‘abusive’ behaviors as well. For example, some couples are very volatile with one another; they may scream and yell at each other and fight constantly. Being subjected to this high-conflict sort of relationship might be an instance of verbal abuse for some more sensitive people. However, if both partners in a high-conflict marriage are adjusted to that high level of conflict and are okay with it, then their fighting may not actually be abusive at all as applied to their individual situation. Similarly, people who willingly and consensually practice sexual bondage in the context of their intimate relationship are not engaging in abusive behavior, until and unless one partner uses it against the will of the other partner. The important take home lesson here is to note that when it is not clear whether a particular behavior is abusive or not, it is best to fall back on whether that behavior feels abusive or not. If it feels abusive, it is likely to be abusive, at least for you, and in any case, you would be justified in escaping from that abuse. However, the same behavior might not be abusive for another person.

Updated: Dec 14th 2005

Types of Abuse
Reader Comments

My heart bleeds – Lynn – Feb 6th 2007

I am terribly sorry to hear this is happening to you and your mom doesn’t even acknowledge it. My step father did this same thing to me since I was 9yrs old until I got out of the house. They are still together. It wasn’t that my mom didn’t believe me I don’t guess she just didn’t want to. I will tell you that if there is any way please get out of the house. Please turn him in. The pain by causing an uproar (that is what you probably think) will cause you so many mental problems in the future. I am now 38 years old and I have a wonderful husband and a great job and so many things that you would think that I would not suffer depression but I do. Please, please email me if you need to. You are not alone honey and you don’t have to put up with this anymore. Love, Lynn

Hitting Me – Stephen – Jan 11th 2007
I am 13 and my mom has just slapped me really hard, ive got a red hand mark on may face, she cant control herself and she lashes out on me. She should expect temper tantrums and stuff, but she shouldnt hit me and slap me … i feel like hitting them too, but i cant…id get killed. The only thing i can look to sometimes is coping with and shutting myself in my rom with something sharp.

A reply – Already Grown Up – Aug 24th 2006
I have wondered why parents might ever do something like that. My dad used to leave me alone with a person who swore at me, and who cried and blamed me for it when I made a soud loud enough to break her from her trance. Whenever I told my dad I didn’t like it he would just smile and tell me to stop caring. The thing is I have always known he loved me. I think sometimes parents love their children so much that they can’t bear to admit they have done something wrong. The longer the abuse goes on, the more the parent can’t stand to admit that he or she has done nothing while their child is in horrible pain. And so they continue to deny it, and it keeps getting worse. “I have a quick question concerning this matter.How many parents do you know that would do that???” I don’t know. Most parents would never do that… but it does happen. If your question is – “Is this normal? Is this okay?” – the answer is, completely and absolutely, “no.” If your question is – “Am I alone?” – You are not alone. There are other people who have gone through similar things and who know how much it hurts, there are people you can talk to, and there are organizations that can help. If you want somebody to talk to… somebody who will take you seriously and who can help you figure out what you want to do, there are some people here you can talk to: 1-800-656-4673. It’s called the “National Sexual Assault Hotline,” and it’s free and it’s 100% confidential; nobody else will know anything unless you tell them yourself. You can call them any time of day, any day. The number is also 1-800-656-HOPE. God do I wish I had done something similar while I was still living at home (I’ve grown up now.) It was so hard to be alone. I don’t know if you’re going to read this reply, but please do consider it.

reply – Nan – Jul 27th 2006
I kind of know what you mean. I had the same situation but I was younger then you. My mom drink a lot and she didn’t believe me. It continue to happen until I stood up for myself and said ‘NO’ and continue to fight until I got away from the man. Don’t allow yourself to be alone with this person. If you know it will be just the two of you find another place to go. Nan

What do I do?? – Ray Bear – Jul 24th 2006
Okay I was sexually abused by my mothers boyfriend at the time a couple years ago.I warned my mother and she rolled her eyes and told me that he wasn\’t like that.Since then they have gotten married.And now it is occuring again 2-3 years later and she is staying with him.I have a quick question concerning this matter.How many parents do you know that would do that???….And another little tip.I am 16 years old. Thank you for listening, Ray Bear

SOURCE:- mentalhelp.net

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