Why let’s talk about abuse?
Abuse can come in many forms and it happens far too often in homes around the world. In this second of a series about abuse, we’ll take a look again at the various types of abuse. Knowing the various signs and symptoms of abuse, and being aware of the impact on someone’s mental health could help save a life. So yes, let’s talk about abuse.
Trigger warning: If talks of abuse, rape, and suicide make you uncomfortable, please do not read this article.
One in five adults aged 18 to 74 years experienced at least one form of child abuse, whether emotional abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse, or witnessing domestic violence or abuse, before the age of 16 years (8.5 million people), according to the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW). These figures just hint at the number of adults who suffered abuse during their childhood and the impact it has had on lives.
You can’t change the world alone – you will need some help – and to truly get from your starting point to your destination takes friends, colleagues, the good will of strangers and a strong coxswain to guide them.William H McRaven
Some forms of abuse
- Physical Abuse — most likely the easiest form of abuse to spot as it’s non-accidental harm to a body. It ranges from physical injuries such as pushing, slapping, punching, hitting, biting or wounding to things like inappropriately restraining, denying basic needs like water and food, denying or deliberate mismanagement of medication.
- Psychological/Emotional Abuse — often more difficult to spot as it’s mostly done in private and doesn’t have any physical effects. It can be threats of abandonment, deprivation of emotional and physical contact, intimidation, humiliation or deprivation of cultural/religious needs.
- Domestic Violence — we covered that here. However, people ought to be aware that domestic violence isn’t always just physical and also includes ‘honour crimes’ and forced marriages.
- Sexual Abuse — includes sexual acts that you haven’t consented to, sexual assault and rape, pornography, online sexual abuse and sexual harassment.
- Older person Abuse — might include not caring for someone properly, pressuring someone to give away money or property, psychological eg threats, harassment or forcing someone to live somewhere they don’t want to and physical violence or sexual.
- Financial or Material Abuse — Warning on the increase since Coronavirus: could be fraud and internet scams – I’ve had several obvious scam requests from Paypal to login etc, which I marked as Spam. However, it’s been common lately for some elderly and vulnerable people to have been scammed already. Watch out! Financial abuse might also include theft or controlling all finances; property or inheritance.
- Discriminatory Abuse — unequal treatment of people due to race, age, gender, religion, disability or sexual orientation.
- Organisational Abuse — might include abuse or neglect and poor care practice within an organisation or specific care setting such as a care home or a hospital or in relation to care provided in one’s own home. This could be one off incidents or on-going ill-treatment of cared for people. There could be more than one abuser and sometimes managers collude with or ignore the abusers.
- Modern slavery — a relatively hidden crime and targets people living in unstable conditions i.e. forced to live in poor conditions; basement of building while skivvying for little or no pay. It could include slavery, and human trafficking, and in the UK alone, in 2013 there was 1,746 cases of Modern Slavery reported.
- Neglect and Acts of Omission — aspects of neglect such as deprivation of clothing, shelter, food or heating. Abusers can also harm victims by ignoring their physical or medical needs, which might occur in a care home by banning visitors, isolating or ignoring and mismanagement of medication.
- Self-Neglect — is a bit different to the other forms of abuse as it’s normally an individual who inflicts it upon themselves i.e. not attending to activities of daily living like not washing or brushing their teeth, not keeping their environment clean and safe or not looking after their physical and mental health. These people are often somewhat at risk of other types of abuse, due to their vulnerability i.e. allowing or being forced to entertain drug use in their home.
- Child Abuse — when a child is intentionally harmed by an adult or another child – it can be over a period of time but can also be a one-off action. It can be physical, sexual or emotional and it can happen in person or online. It can also be a lack of love, care and attention – this is neglect, NSPCC.
Child abuse also comes in many forms and we’ll explore it further during this series of “Let’s talk about abuse”. However, if you’re worried about a child, and don’t know what to do, you can contact the NSPCC Helpline on this number: 08088005000 for immediate help and support.
For any other help or support services, you might find what you’re looking for in this Useful Mental Health Contact List here, and if not, I’m happy to help. I look forward to your comments, thoughts and any questions. I listed the various forms of abuse in no particular order and if there’s an area you’d prefer I write about next, please let me know.