Abuse is a kind of behavior that one person engages in to unfairly control another person. There are numerous types of abuses, ranging from physical to financial. Although abuse can happen to anyone, children and the elderly are particularly vulnerable to many kinds of abuse. Victims of abuse have legal recourse against their abuser, and there are many organizations that can provide immediate help to a victim.
Physical abuse occurs when one person commits an act against another that causes physical pain. This can include slapping, kicking, punching, pinching, pushing, throwing objects at a person or hitting a person with a body part or object. Physical abuse is a serious matter and can result in broken bones, black eyes, bruises, missing teeth, miscarriages, internal injuries -- and in extreme cases, death. Victims of physical abuse often feel too frightened or manipulated to report the abuse to the authorities. However, there are many places ready to help victims of physical abuse.
Emotional abuse involves actions that are designed to control, humiliate, subjugate or manipulate a person. Such abuse often comes in the form of constantly criticizing, insulting, belittling, intimidating, making unreasonable demands or expressing disapproval of another person. Many victims of emotional abuse become convinced that they have little value, and so they stay with their abusers, believing that no one else would want them. Some emotionally abused people are also physically abused.
Read More: How to Prove Verbal & Emotional Abuse
Sexual abuse consists of a sexual act that is forced on one person by another. Sexual abuse can occur between two (or more) people of any age, but it particularly affects children, as children can never legally consent to a sexual act. Sexual abuse includes a variety of acts, including the non-consensual penetration of the vagina, anus or mouth; the sexual touching of any part of the body, clothed or unclothed; engaging in sexual activity in front of a child and encouraging a child to commit sexual acts. If you are being sexually abused or suspect a child is being sexually abused, you should contact the authorities immediately. Victims of sexual abuse can become severely depressed and even suicidal.
Financial abuse consists of actions that force a victim to be financially dependent on the abuser. In this form of abuse, the abuser cuts off the victim's access to money and financial information, often by stealing money from the victim, withholding money or credit cards, preventing the victim from holding a job, controlling bank accounts or refusing to account for the spending of the family money. Financial abuse particularly affects the elderly, who are often abused by unscrupulous relatives.
Neglect consists of actions or inaction that results in failure to provide the financial, emotional or physical support to someone that you have a duty to take care of. This kind of abuse particularly affects children and the elderly. In children, signs of neglect include being underweight, having inadequate clothing or clothing not appropriate to the weather (no coat during winter, for example) and being left alone or in charge of younger brothers or sisters frequently. In the elderly, unexplained weight loss, untreated physical problems, unsuitable clothing and an unkempt physical appearance are all signs that the person is being neglected.
Barbara Diggs is a freelance writer living in France. A former corporate lawyer, she has been writing professionally since 2006. She has been published in numerous print and online magazines, specializing in travel, parenting, history and law. Diggs is a graduate of Wesleyan University and Stanford Law School.