Understanding abuse

Brand-new? This is the place for your questions and discussions on any and all topics, with fellow users or staff, while you get your feet wet.
Loveliy12
not a newbie
Posts: 20
Joined: Sun Jan 30, 2022 9:15 am
Age: 17
Awesomeness Quotient: My personality
Primary language: English
Pronouns: She/her
Sexual identity and orientation: Straight i guess
Location: Cuttack

Understanding abuse

Unread post by Loveliy12 »

What exactly is abuse ? Lately I am triggered by everything . When I see someone playfully pinch or hit people not to hurt them but just to tease them I immediately think it's abuse and then I feel like I am an abuser because I have also playful hit people not to cause pain but I sometimes become aggressive when I am excited .Once I lightly slapped my bestfriend because she texted her ex . We both were laughing at that time and it nothing serious but now I feel like I have abused her . I don't know what to do . My father always hit mother and I don't want to be like him . Does anyone hitting anyone is abuse ? I also get triggered when people say things like if you do that I'll slap you or kick you . Can someone explain what is happening to me?
Heather
scarleteen founder & director
Posts: 8880
Joined: Sun Jul 27, 2014 11:43 am
Age: 52
Awesomeness Quotient: I know every word of The Lorax by heart.
Primary language: english
Pronouns: they/them
Sexual identity and orientation: queery-queer-queer
Location: Chicago

Re: Understanding abuse

Unread post by Heather »

Hey there, Loveliy12. Welcome to the boards.

We have a primer here that explains what abuse and different kinds of abuse are here: Blinders Off: Getting a Good Look at Abuse and Assault. But I can also explain it to you some here as well, and start a conversation about it. Sometimes it's easier to figure things out a few different ways, rather than just one way.

You give a bunch of different examples here of hitting, which can be, but isn't always, a physical abuse, so let's go ahead and start with that.

Really, the two things that make hitting an abuse or not boil down to the intentions of the person doing the hitting and whether or not the person being hit is giving their free and willing consent.

Is the person hitting intending to do some kind of harm to the other person? To manipulate or control them in some way? To exert power over them without their consent? If so, then it is probably an abuse. If not, like if, as you say, someone just gets too excited and forgets themselves, and excitedly punches their friend in the arm, or hits as a joke or meaning to be playful or flirtatious, or when little kids are learning boundaries and just don't know, or in sports as part of the sport? Probably not an abuse.

Has the person being hit consent to the hitting, or are they otherwise okay with it? Like, for instance, when it's understood as being playful between friends, or when it's negotiated and agreed on as part of sexual play, or when people have agreed to a boxing match? Probably not an abuse. But without real consent -- and accepting that abuse is part of a relationship isn't that, for the record -- or those other kinds of situations, it probably is.

"Trigger" is a tricky word, because it's really meant to be about something that activates PTSD. People use it more casually now, which can make it hard to know exactly what someone means. I want to understand you, so when you're saying it here, it sounds like you mean things that upset or scare you: do I have that right?
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead
Loveliy12
not a newbie
Posts: 20
Joined: Sun Jan 30, 2022 9:15 am
Age: 17
Awesomeness Quotient: My personality
Primary language: English
Pronouns: She/her
Sexual identity and orientation: Straight i guess
Location: Cuttack

Re: Understanding abuse

Unread post by Loveliy12 »

Thank you Heather for replying . Yes you are right I shouldn't have used the word "trigger ".
I guess abuse means the urge to control or dominate someone . After seeing that article I hope I have a better understanding of abuse.
Heather
scarleteen founder & director
Posts: 8880
Joined: Sun Jul 27, 2014 11:43 am
Age: 52
Awesomeness Quotient: I know every word of The Lorax by heart.
Primary language: english
Pronouns: they/them
Sexual identity and orientation: queery-queer-queer
Location: Chicago

Re: Understanding abuse

Unread post by Heather »

Oh, it’s okay to use it (it’s not my personal favorite, but that’s neither here nor there). It’s just vague, so I was trying to make sure I got *your* meaning, that’s all. Did I? And do you want to talk about that?

We can also talk about what’s happening at home. <3
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead
Loveliy12
not a newbie
Posts: 20
Joined: Sun Jan 30, 2022 9:15 am
Age: 17
Awesomeness Quotient: My personality
Primary language: English
Pronouns: She/her
Sexual identity and orientation: Straight i guess
Location: Cuttack

Re: Understanding abuse

Unread post by Loveliy12 »

Actually I need a little more help understanding this though I admit the article was very helpful . See I have always known what abuse really means I guess it means hurting someone and when when you're hurting someone I think you know what you are doing . My father had hit my mother only two times and when the first time it happened I was 11 years old and it was really brutal and my mother was severely injured. I used cry because she got hurt and I knew it was wrong . What happened shouldn't happen. When I really young like 4-5 years old my mother would hit me sometimes because we ( me and my sister irritated her ) but after some time she realised that it's not okay to . She said really young when she got married and had kids and she didn't know how to handle them so she got irritated quickly because it was stressful to handle us all by herself and my father also didn't help her take care of us . She stopped doing it after that . My sister also has very bad temper and whenever I broke her things or anything like that she would hit me it's not like I was afraid of her or anything so I would also hit her back . Sometimes if she provoked me I would also fight with her like shout at me or something like that . The incident with my bestfriend I told before it was like we were talking and she said that she texted her ex boyfriend who treated her badly and I have told her multiple times not to talk to him anywhere . She tooked at me with a guilty smile and I laughed and slightly slapped her and then we went back talking . I mean we have playfully slapped or pinched eachother ( me and my bestfriend ) many times . The situation wasn't like I was mad at her and I lashed ou t to harm her or something . We are still best friends now . At that time I knew what abuse was i wasn't ignorant or anything but I thought what I was doing is not bad because I not harming anyone because my intentions were not like that at all. And about my family , out of all the situations I mentioned above I only considered what my father did to my mother as abuse because it hurt me till now and about my mother I forgive her for what she did and I love her . About my sister I never considered it as abuse because we both were in equal position in that fight I wasn't scared of her nor she was of me . And all siblings fight at all what I have seen like this . You must be thinking that I must grow up thinking it's fine to abuse people which is not true . I have always been against abuse at least what I thought it was according to my defination .
Sam W
scarleteen staff/volunteer
Posts: 8139
Joined: Mon Jul 28, 2014 9:06 am
Age: 31
Awesomeness Quotient: I raise carnivorous plants
Primary language: english
Pronouns: she/her
Sexual identity and orientation: queer
Location: Desert

Re: Understanding abuse

Unread post by Sam W »

Hi Loveliy12,

I agree with you that what your dad did to your mom certainly matches the definition of abuse. And from what you've said about your friend, that sounds like that was something that was playful or joking rather than abusive. However, if it's really bothering you, what if you asked your friend about it and checked in with her to make sure you were both okay with those kinds of actions as part of joking around with each other?

With your sister, it's a little tricky because siblings do fight, and some fight physically (especially when they're younger and learning what's okay behavior and what's not). And sometimes one sibling abuses the other for the reasons Heather mentioned; to control, to harm, and/or to exert power over them. With your mom, I would say her actions do match the general definition of abuse (and it's okay if you don't feel comfortable using that word for it yet); even if she was stressed and irritated, there are lots and lots of ways of dealing with that that don't involve hitting small, vulnerable kids who are dependent on her for care. It sounds like she came to that conclusion eventually too, since she stopped the behavior.

Can I ask if your dad still lives in your house and still tends to be very angry and violent?
Loveliy12
not a newbie
Posts: 20
Joined: Sun Jan 30, 2022 9:15 am
Age: 17
Awesomeness Quotient: My personality
Primary language: English
Pronouns: She/her
Sexual identity and orientation: Straight i guess
Location: Cuttack

Re: Understanding abuse

Unread post by Loveliy12 »

Hey Sam W,
Yes I asked my friend about it and she doesn't even remember when it happened . I explained her everything and she told me not to worry about it and that she is fine . I know what my mother did to me was abusive and bad but in my culture it's very common for parents to hit their kids( I am Indian btw)but that doesn't excuse the action I know but it's very common . The reason I considered my father hitting my mother as abuse because I always thought it's not okay to hit your partner under any circumstances. He still lives in our house but he doesn't hit her anymore .
Sam W
scarleteen staff/volunteer
Posts: 8139
Joined: Mon Jul 28, 2014 9:06 am
Age: 31
Awesomeness Quotient: I raise carnivorous plants
Primary language: english
Pronouns: she/her
Sexual identity and orientation: queer
Location: Desert

Re: Understanding abuse

Unread post by Sam W »

How are you feeling after that conversation with your friend? Do things feel a little clearer to you?

You're right that it's not okay to hit a partner, and that even though it's not good, there are still cultures where hitting kids is common. With your dad, is he someone you now feel safe around? Or does he do things that aren't hitting but that do make you concerned for you or other family members?
Loveliy12
not a newbie
Posts: 20
Joined: Sun Jan 30, 2022 9:15 am
Age: 17
Awesomeness Quotient: My personality
Primary language: English
Pronouns: She/her
Sexual identity and orientation: Straight i guess
Location: Cuttack

Re: Understanding abuse

Unread post by Loveliy12 »

Well to be honest I always knew she was not hurt by it because she has also done something like that to me before. I have very complicated feels about my father . He is very controlling and abusive person . He is not a violent person who lose control of his emotions , he does this things knowingly . He refuses to pay our bills when he is angry and things like that .
Loveliy12
not a newbie
Posts: 20
Joined: Sun Jan 30, 2022 9:15 am
Age: 17
Awesomeness Quotient: My personality
Primary language: English
Pronouns: She/her
Sexual identity and orientation: Straight i guess
Location: Cuttack

Re: Understanding abuse

Unread post by Loveliy12 »

Nowadays when in a movie or real life someone says that I'll punch you or slap you etc in a threatening manner not to their partner or kids I feel like they are abusive . It almost happens everywhere . I can't get rid of it. I want to know in which situation it is abusive or in which situation it is not . For example a scenario in the book I read where one person talks argues with another person in the end the first person kicks another person ' s foot and storms out . Is it an abuse?
Sam W
scarleteen staff/volunteer
Posts: 8139
Joined: Mon Jul 28, 2014 9:06 am
Age: 31
Awesomeness Quotient: I raise carnivorous plants
Primary language: english
Pronouns: she/her
Sexual identity and orientation: queer
Location: Desert

Re: Understanding abuse

Unread post by Sam W »

I wonder if one thing that may help is to also remember that abuse often includes or refers to a pattern of behavior, rather than a single instance (of course, some actions are so violent and not okay they only have to happen once for most people to consider them abuse). So a kick to someone's foot probably isn't abusive in most cases, but if it happens as part of that person always resorting to physical things like kicking, hitting, or shoving when arguing with the other person, that would be a red flag. Does that make sense?

I'm so sorry that your dad is like that and that you're having to live under such behavior. Have you ever talked with anyone about what goes on at home, or done safety planning of any kind?
Loveliy12
not a newbie
Posts: 20
Joined: Sun Jan 30, 2022 9:15 am
Age: 17
Awesomeness Quotient: My personality
Primary language: English
Pronouns: She/her
Sexual identity and orientation: Straight i guess
Location: Cuttack

Re: Understanding abuse

Unread post by Loveliy12 »

It's fine after all this year's I have learnt to live with him. When I get older I will get out this town and never have to see him . But for now I can't do anything I am dependent on him for school , clothes and food as I have nowhere else to go.

Can you be more specific about what do you mean abuse is . If abuse is hit anyone then we all have hit someone once in our life does that make a person abusive ( and someone doesn't mean family members or partner ).
Elise
scarleteen staff/volunteer
Posts: 210
Joined: Tue Jun 09, 2020 4:44 am
Age: 31
Primary language: English
Pronouns: she/her
Sexual identity and orientation: bisexual/queer
Location: Narrm/Melbourne

Re: Understanding abuse

Unread post by Elise »

Hi there Loveliy12, I'm sorry to hear that you're having to live under these conditions with your father. I see you're currently planning to wait until you are independent to then be able to distance yourself from him. This can feel really isolating whilst you're waiting and living and experiencing the stress of that. Have you got any good groups of friends or other spaces where you can have some time out from him, where you can feel at ease and be yourself? This could be staying over at a close friend's regularly (say once a week, and if it helps justify it, for a stated reason like studying), and/or having a friend over if he is the type of person who behaves when there are guests around. Also getting really busy with school clubs/youth groups can be a good way to get some time away and space too.

It is also important to acknowledge that living in this kind of space can have some real emotional impacts on you, and cause a lot of emotional stress. You might find that the iCALL Helpline, a free helpline and chat counselling service run by the School of Human Ecology at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) in Mumbai, is useful to you.

Also, not to cause you alarm, but have you considered making a Safety Plan of what you'll do and where you'll go in the event he does escalate in a way that is dangerous and you need to leave? You may not need to use it, but it is always better to have one in this kind of situation than not. You can read about it here: Safety Plan: When You Live With the Abuse, and feel free to ask us any questions.

With regards to your question, a one off incident where someone lashes out impulsively and hits someone is not always abuse. How they behave in the aftermath (did they take real steps to make amends, obviously were ashamed and shocked at their actions, took real meaningful steps to never do it again?) and the context of the event as Sam mentioned (was it as a way of having control, belittling someone, imposing power on someone else, are important to whether an act was abusive, or just an act of violence from an impulse. As you said, many people have hit someone at least once in their life and that doesn't mean everyone has committed abuse.

The other thing is a pattern, if someone regularly lashes out when they are angry/annoyed so they get their way, yells at service staff to get their way frequently, that is a pattern that this is a person that uses abuse to control and exert their power over people, does that make sense?
Loveliy12
not a newbie
Posts: 20
Joined: Sun Jan 30, 2022 9:15 am
Age: 17
Awesomeness Quotient: My personality
Primary language: English
Pronouns: She/her
Sexual identity and orientation: Straight i guess
Location: Cuttack

Re: Understanding abuse

Unread post by Loveliy12 »

Hi Elise,
Thank you for your advice . Yeah I have a friend group who really helped me during these situations . My father mostly spends his time outside and whenever he is home we don't interact very much so it's fine .I will definitely use the above helplines you have mentioned .

Okay so abuse is mostly a pattern of behavior in which the person wants to control the other or wants to dominate the other . As you said above impulsively hitting someone is not abuse but sometimes it can be like I have heard situations in which one partner hit the other and immediately regrets it and tries to apologise but it still considered as an abuse . I guess things are different when you are dating or have a relationship with someone
Elise
scarleteen staff/volunteer
Posts: 210
Joined: Tue Jun 09, 2020 4:44 am
Age: 31
Primary language: English
Pronouns: she/her
Sexual identity and orientation: bisexual/queer
Location: Narrm/Melbourne

Re: Understanding abuse

Unread post by Elise »

Hi Loveliy12, the thing with this kind of definition is that the edges are fuzzy and overlap, as there is so much context to consider.

Further things are to consider with violence (trigger warning:, going to get more in depth about violence before the end of the rest of this post)
  • Firstly the age of the person matters, when we are old enough that we have developed our frontal lobe (impulse control part of the brain), and as it is becomes more developed though adolescence, violent acts are treated with increasingly more seriousness; as most adults have the ability to control their impulse to violence (I would guess that most people who have hit someone have did so in childhood or adolescence). Obviously this is not the case when we're talking about self-defense, rather, being the aggressor is the issue here. Therefore, if someone lashes out this way as an adult, this is a red flag that they do not have good impulse control or a handle on how to express their anger, and therefore likely do exhibit the behavior again.
  • Relationships are also based on care and trust, and respect and acting violently is in conflict with those values and promises that come with a relationship. It is a violation of that trust to exhibit that violence (this applies to friendships, too). Again this is a red flag that a person is capable of physically hurting someone that they are meant to do the opposite to, which is also a danger sign about this person.
  • Also, sometimes people may not consciously think "I am going to control this person", they may be blinded by rage, or want to "teach someone a lesson"/"show them". This is not healthy adult behaviour, and all boil down to a desire to control/dominate a person or situation, and someone motivated to this kind of impulse is at high risk to do it again in the same or similar circumstances.

The above is also why simply saying "I won't do it again" cannot simply be taken at face value; as there are so many instances where the first time is never the last time, and to set the boundary that the relationship is ceasing because there was a violent act is a reasonable one to set, as the person setting this boundary correct to think and be concerned that:
1) Interpersonal violence is never okay in a relationship, as it is disrespectful and dangerous.
2) Waiting to see whether it occurs again runs the risk that if it does, that the person being acted violently will hurt the other person even more, causing further harm, mentally or physically, or even killing them.

To really make sure it doesn't happens again, the person who did the violence needs to do more than just say sorry, they need to take personal steps to address why their anger caused them to violate this person's trust and their bodily safety. This is because making amends is more than just apologizing, it is about taking responsibility, fixing the wrongdoing where possible, and taking steps to demonstrate that it will never happen again.

The above is why mental health help-lines aimed at men (it is also possible for women also to commit abuse, however embedded cultural messages in many cultures lead to violence against women by men being significantly more pervasive, which I won't go into here for brevity), often have a focus on providing options for counseling and therapy to people who have committed abuse or an abusive act who want to address and change this behaviour. If someone is commits an act of violent aggression (even if they don't know why), even if it's the first time, this can be a very good thing to unpack with a therapist, to look at the reasons why it occurred to prevent it from happening again. The kinds of things someone might do are individual therapy, relationship counseling with their partner if they are willing, and/or group therapy, and/or self help resources focused on this issue.

It is also important to remember that even when the person takes these step, and tries to make amends, breaking trust with someone through a violent act is something that can be so violating for the person who was at the receiving end of the violence, that it may not be forgiven, and even if it is, never feel comfortable trusting the other person again or entering a relationship with them. Again, this is a more than understandable and reasonable decision, however, this does not mean the person who did the work addressing their impulse to violence wasted their time, as they have done important work to help them have healthy relationships with others, and themselves, in the future.

This was quite long and wordy, but I hope this helps shed some light on this issue, which can be quite confronting and complex. If you have any further thoughts or questions, please don't hesitate to reach out here.
Loveliy12
not a newbie
Posts: 20
Joined: Sun Jan 30, 2022 9:15 am
Age: 17
Awesomeness Quotient: My personality
Primary language: English
Pronouns: She/her
Sexual identity and orientation: Straight i guess
Location: Cuttack

Re: Understanding abuse

Unread post by Loveliy12 »

This advice was very helpful . Thanks . So , I guess abuse is a result of frustration or anger. It's all about controlling your emotions in a healthy way . I think most men or even women abuses their partner because they feel entitled to do that act .
Elise
scarleteen staff/volunteer
Posts: 210
Joined: Tue Jun 09, 2020 4:44 am
Age: 31
Primary language: English
Pronouns: she/her
Sexual identity and orientation: bisexual/queer
Location: Narrm/Melbourne

Re: Understanding abuse

Unread post by Elise »

Hi Loveliy12, apologies if I was a bit confusing - I actually meant the opposite: adults who are able to healthily manage their anger, impulse control and/or understand the parameters of a healthy relationship dynamic will *not* abuse their partner. It’s more than just simple frustration or anger, it is not being able to manage emotions healthily (and so trying to control others to prioritise their own feeling “good” via manipulation and violence), an issue with impulse control and/or a lack or respect for their partner (often a product of seeing that partner as property rather than a person) that leads to this fact.

Whilst the incidence of this kind of abuse will vary from population to population around the world depending on various factors, and it is certainly an issue that still is still too prevalent world wide (to use my country as an example, 1 in 6 women have experienced violence from a partner, and 1 in 16 men), it is not “most” people; and is definitely not behaviour to be normalised.

Would you feel better or worse about the concept of abuse if someone told you it was “normal” human behaviour, do you think? If so, if you’re comfortable sharing this, why would you feel that way?
Loveliy12
not a newbie
Posts: 20
Joined: Sun Jan 30, 2022 9:15 am
Age: 17
Awesomeness Quotient: My personality
Primary language: English
Pronouns: She/her
Sexual identity and orientation: Straight i guess
Location: Cuttack

Re: Understanding abuse

Unread post by Loveliy12 »

No I was not saying that it is a normal behaviour . I was saying that sometimes people are blinded rage that they hurt their loved ones.
Sofi
scarleteen staff/volunteer
Posts: 298
Joined: Fri Sep 04, 2020 12:23 pm
Awesomeness Quotient: I make my own nail art!
Primary language: Spanish or English
Pronouns: she/they
Sexual identity and orientation: Queer
Location: USA

Re: Understanding abuse

Unread post by Sofi »

That's true, you're right that sometimes it happens out of rage, unfortunately. Did you want to talk more about this, or expand on Elise's question in her last post?
Loveliy12
not a newbie
Posts: 20
Joined: Sun Jan 30, 2022 9:15 am
Age: 17
Awesomeness Quotient: My personality
Primary language: English
Pronouns: She/her
Sexual identity and orientation: Straight i guess
Location: Cuttack

Re: Understanding abuse

Unread post by Loveliy12 »

Hey Sofi,
Yeah I would like to talk about this a little bit.
Sam W
scarleteen staff/volunteer
Posts: 8139
Joined: Mon Jul 28, 2014 9:06 am
Age: 31
Awesomeness Quotient: I raise carnivorous plants
Primary language: english
Pronouns: she/her
Sexual identity and orientation: queer
Location: Desert

Re: Understanding abuse

Unread post by Sam W »

Okay! What direction would you like to take this conversation from here?
Loveliy12
not a newbie
Posts: 20
Joined: Sun Jan 30, 2022 9:15 am
Age: 17
Awesomeness Quotient: My personality
Primary language: English
Pronouns: She/her
Sexual identity and orientation: Straight i guess
Location: Cuttack

Re: Understanding abuse

Unread post by Loveliy12 »

Hey , I would like to continue talking about what is abuse . I am still having some confusions .
Sam W
scarleteen staff/volunteer
Posts: 8139
Joined: Mon Jul 28, 2014 9:06 am
Age: 31
Awesomeness Quotient: I raise carnivorous plants
Primary language: english
Pronouns: she/her
Sexual identity and orientation: queer
Location: Desert

Re: Understanding abuse

Unread post by Sam W »

Hi Loveliy12,

We're happy to continue talking with you! Can you say a little more about the things that are confusing you?
Loveliy12
not a newbie
Posts: 20
Joined: Sun Jan 30, 2022 9:15 am
Age: 17
Awesomeness Quotient: My personality
Primary language: English
Pronouns: She/her
Sexual identity and orientation: Straight i guess
Location: Cuttack

Re: Understanding abuse

Unread post by Loveliy12 »

So I read in an article that silent treatment is a form of abuse . I think I have given silent treatment to people before. When I was young people would say that I talk too much so after I won't talk to them at all . Last week my friend and I were in class and we both were frustrated so something happened and she shouted at me in public ,of course she didn't do it intentionally but still I felt embarrassed . So the whole time I didn't talk to her and she didn't even notice that I was mad because we both were busy studying. While going home she noticed something is wrong and asked me what happened ,after asking few times I said that I'm mad because you yelled at me then she said sorry and we made up. Incidents like this have happened few times in the past like when my mother shouts at me or my sister and I have a fight , I won't talk to them. Is that abusive behaviour?. Am I an abuser?
Emily N
scarleteen staff/volunteer
Posts: 174
Joined: Wed Feb 10, 2021 8:28 pm
Age: 26
Awesomeness Quotient: I love to cook!
Primary language: English
Pronouns: she/they
Sexual identity and orientation: pansexual
Location: Boston, MA

Re: Understanding abuse

Unread post by Emily N »

Hi there,

I would not describe these situations as directly abusive. The “silent treatment” becomes more abusive when it is used as a way to manipulate another person’s emotions. It sounds like in the end of the situation with your friend, you were able to communicate your feelings with her. It also sounds like your silence was a direct result of someone yelling at you - it’s a very reasonable reaction to draw away from situations like that. But also know that you can communicate this with the person who hurts you by saying something like “I’m feeling hurt, I need a few minutes/hours/time for myself before we talk again, but I want to return to this conversation.”

What I’m thinking the article you are referencing implies is that the silent treatment isn’t an effective way to have productive conversations or work through conflicts. You can keep this in mind for the future, and can ask yourself “Am I using silence because I need space? Or am I using silence to hurt the other person?” Does that make sense?
Post Reply Previous topicNext topic