There are three strong social biases when it comes to abuse.
Many people tend to think that abuse is only abuse if: a male is abusing a female; the abuse happens within a romantic relationship; the abuse is physical and frequent, resulting in a multitude of bruises or broken bones on a regular basis.
Outside of these three elements, abuse tends to be minimized, or in some situations, even seen as appropriate, necessary, justifiable, or, when children are involved, good parenting. I’m going to cover each point one at a time, as abuse can only exist when there is confusion about what it is.
Abuse is only abuse if a male is abusing a female.
Truth: Abuse is abuse, regardless of the gender of the person doing it. If the dynamic is flipped, and a female is abusing a male, the prevailing thought is that he must have done something wrong and deserved it…and if her abuse is towards a child, that the woman is being a good parent by going to such great lengths to discipline her child. This is not only incorrect, it’s dysfunctional and damaging thinking. Women can abuse men and other women, just like men can abuse women and other men.
Abuse is only abuse if two people are in a romantic relationship. Anything else is just “family dynamics” and needs to be resolved.
Truth: Abuse is abuse, regardless of the dynamic between the two people. If a family member is abusive in any way, it’s common for this to be seen as part of their family dynamics, and the push is to “forgive and forget” and continue to allow this destructive person in their lives because they are family. Or if the abuse is anything outside of the physical or sexual realms, it is often minimized and justified by enablers of the abusive person as them having a bad day, or a bad childhood, and that those on the receiving end of this abuse somehow need to be more “compassionate” and understanding of the person’s abusive behavior. This is incredibly re-victimizing to those who are on the receiving end of abuse. All abuse is damaging, there is no excuse for it, and a person doesn’t need to put up with it just because the abuser is family. Other dynamics that tend to fly under the radar are if the couple is same-sex, or not in a romantic relationship, but are “friends,” neighbors, coworkers, or if the abuser is a spiritual leader, or works in a caring or trusted profession, such as police officer, teacher, or therapist.
Abuse is only a problem if it is physical abuse and leaves a multitude of bruises, or puts someone in the hospital.
Truth: Physical abuse is just one type of abuse. There is also emotional, psychological, verbal, spiritual, financial, and sexual abuse. All forms are incredibly damaging and can cause long-lasting effects, including PTSD and suicide.
This site is a safe place for you to seek help. If you are being abused you can safely call 800-799-SAFE (7233) or visit TheHotline.org for help.