(Content Warning: Discussion about the different forms of abuse and a personal story.)
Abuse can come in many forms. Some forms are so imbedded into society that they are often overlooked, ignored, and/or dismissed. So, what constitutes being abused? According to the Lanark County, Ont. Coalition against Family Violence, a single act may not constitute abuse, but if someone is doing something to harm or control you then you are being abused. You have the right to be treated with respect and to feel safe in your home. Abuse is a violation of an individual’s human and civil rights and in the worst cases can result in death.
The East Riding Safeguarding Adults Board has compiled a list of ten types of abuse:
- gender identity
- sexual orientation
- emotional abuse
- threats of harm or abandonment
- deprivation of contact
- verbal abuse
- cyber bullying
- unreasonable and unjustified withdrawal of services or supportive networks
- Financial or material
- internet scamming
- coercion in relation to an adult’s financial affairs or arrangements, including in connection with wills, property, inheritance or financial transactions
- the misuse or misappropriation of property, possessions or benefits
- poor care practice within an institution or specific care setting such as a hospital or care home
- poor practice in relation to care provided in one’s own home
- Neglect and acts of omission
- ignoring medical, emotional or physical care needs
- failure to provide access to appropriate health, care and support or educational services,
- the withholding of the necessities of life, such as medication, adequate nutrition and heating
- misuse of medication
- restraint or inappropriate physical sanctions
- indecent exposure
- sexual harassment
- inappropriate looking or touching
- sexual teasing or innuendo
- sexual photography
- subjection to pornography or witnessing sexual acts
- indecent exposure and sexual assault or sexual acts to which the adult has not consented or was pressured into
- psychological abuse
- physical abuse
- sexual abuse
- financial abuse
- emotional abuse
- so called ‘honour’ based violence
- Modern slavery
- human trafficking
- forced labour and domestic servitude
Traffickers and slave masters use whatever means they have at their disposal to coerce, deceive and force individuals into a life of abuse, servitude and inhumane treatment.
- a wide range of behaviour neglecting to care one one’s personal hygiene, health or surroundings and includes behaviour such as hoarding
NO ONE DESERVES TO BE TREATED LIKE THIS!!! NO ONE DESERVES TO BE ABUSED!!!
This is a very difficult topic to be writing about. I grew up in an emotionally and verbally abusive home. I was in an abusive marriage for 15 years. I married want I knew. That was my “normal”. Everyone who has survived an abusive situation has a story as to why they stayed. Everyone does. I am no different.
Growing up, I didn’t feel safe and I felt there was something wrong, but I didn’t know what it was. I didn’t know the language. All I knew was that I felt safer staying in my room by myself and listening to my music. It wasn’t until I become a teacher and took classes on abuse that I started to learn the language. Even then it took my years to finally break free of the situation I had found myself in. I was taught to just deal with the verbal abuse. I was taught that the worse thing I could do was disappoint my family. I had to comply with whatever I was told. I was conditioned to be a codependent and it was my job to keep everyone else happy. I learned at a young age that my needs didn’t matter, that my voice didn’t matter. This continued way into adulthood and into my marriage.
A part of me wants to write about all the different things that were done to me in the name of love, or at least, that was what I was told. It was for my protection, it was because a person cared, it was because I needed to be a better daughter or a better sister or a better wife or a better mother. That I couldn’t be trusted in making decisions for my children or that I was broken or that I was just a bad person. The list goes on.
My ex-husband has admitted that he was trying to contain me, to keep me in a box. Letting me spread my wings was frightening to him. In his mind, by keeping me in a box, he was protecting me. I know my mother thinks in those same terms. In her mind, I needed to be protected. In order to do that, in her mind, I needed to be controlled and contained. I was not allowed to be me. I feel like a shadow around my parents. Something that just stands in the corner until requested. I feel the most disabled when I am with them.
Remember, you have the right to be treated with respect and to feel safe in your home.
I have a parent who attacks my neurology. This parent is very ableist and doesn’t even know or wants to know what ableism is. This parent is about control and will manipulate (covertly and overtly) to get it. This parent has problems, but is in full denial. My ex-husband has untreated mental health problems and a destructive personality disorder. He did get a full psychological evaluation, but refuses to get professional help. My ex-husband and this parent are both passive aggressive, manipulative, and emotionally abusive. My other parent is verbally abusive. This parent’s anger management problem is right out there in the open. My ex-husband also has anger management problems, but his is silent and terrifying. As I said before, I married what I knew. This was the world that I grew up in and remained in it as an adult.
Four and a half years ago I had had enough. My marriage had already ended. I had learned that I was stronger and more resilient than I even realized. I drew a line with my parents, a healthy boundary. I would no longer tolerate the ongoing abuse. I cut off contact to my parents. Not completely, though, we still email every so often, but I don’t feel safe with them. I have tried multiple times to reason with them, but was told they are not going to change. I had to think about myself and my children. It all really hit me when my children began asking each of their counselors why their grandparents treated me the way they did. I had to make a change for my own welfare and for my children’s future.
Somewhere in the back of my mind I knew growing up there was a problem with my family. The cycle of abuse goes back several generations on both sides. I had promised myself that the abuse stopped with me. I was not going to allow the cycle of abuse to continue with my children. Unfortunately, their father had other ideas. He emotionally abused and neglected them. The good news is that his cycle of abuse was caught earlier. My children have been in counseling since they were little learning to cope with the cards life has dealt them. They are stronger and more resilient for that earlier intervention. I am still determined to make sure the cycle of abuse in my family stops with me. I will not allow the abuse to continue.
What can you do?
- Educate yourself.
- Believe when someone tells you something is wrong. I tried to reach out for help many times, but no one would believe me.
- Listen with compassion.
- Don’t be judgmental.
- Encouragement is key.
Here is some helpful information about stopping abuse:
Here are some additional blogs that I wrote about trauma and abuse:
- Trauma Does Not Define You (Posted on August 26, 2018)
- Invisible Scars – A Tale of Emotional Abuse (Posted on June 9, 2014)
- I Hate Complex-PTSD (Posted on June 30, 2017)