What Is Abuse?

According to Merriam-Webster, the word “abuse” has multiple definitions, including: “a corrupt practice or custom”; “improper or excessive use or treatment”; “language that condemns or vilifies, usually unjustly, intemperately, and angrily”; or “physical maltreatment”.

In lived social worlds, as well as literature social worlds, types of abuse are usually broken down into subcategories, like the following:

Physical Abuse: Abuse that is physical in nature, which may include punches thrown, kicks, or other actions that cause bodily harm.

Verbal or Emotional Abuse: Abuse that is non-physical in nature, which may include degrading comments, hate speech, vulgar talk, or other forms of bullying.

Domestic Violence: Abuse of any kind in the home, or between romantic partners in a marriage or relationship.

Substance or Alcohol Abuse: An abuse to one’s own body as a result of the over-consumption of alcohol, or the using of drugs or other harmful substances.

Sexual Assault: Abuse involving sex or sexual acts. Can also include unwanted sexual advances or lewd speech.

Child Abuse: Any form of abuse performed on or directed at a child.

Animal Abuse: Any form of abuse performed on or directed at an animal.

Often, multiple types of abuse are enacted in one specific attack or instance.

Abuse can be a one-time occurrence, can be prolonged and reoccurring over a period of time, or sometimes occur without the victim’s knowledge, like those who receive emotional abuse or are on the receiving end of lewd comments.

Consequences for abusers can include restraining orders, PFAs, jail time, and even death, among other results. Side-effects for victims can include physical injury, pregnancy, mental instability, anxiety, depression, jail time, or death, among other results.


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