So What IS Abuse?

Abuse.  What is “abuse”?

Dictionary.com defines abuse as:

a·buse

1. to use wrongly or improperly; misuse: to abuse one’s authority.

2.to treat in a harmful, injurious, or offensive way: to abuse a horse; to abuse one’s eyesight.
3. to speak insultingly, harshly, and unjustly to or about; revile; malign.
4. to commit sexual assault upon.
5. Obsolete . to deceive or mislead.

noun

6. wrong or improper use; misuse: the abuse of privileges.
7. harshly or coarsely insulting language: The officer heaped abuse on his men.
8.  bad or improper treatment; maltreatment: The child was subjected to cruel abuse.
9.  a corrupt or improper practice or custom: the abuses of a totalitarian regime.
10.  rape or sexual assault.

The problem with the above definitions is that they (for the most part) rely on definitions of behavior as defined by social perception.

For instance: “to use wrongly or improperly . . .”.  But what is “wrong”?  Right and wrong (or good and evil) are often defined by the people, who in turn define the society . . . which in turn begins to define the people, as well as what is “right” or “wrong” in this old world of ours.  Think of the kings and their decrees to do some wrong (usually in order to “right some right – or wrong” – depending on how you want to look at the thing.  A person named “Hitler” and the Nazi people are one that come to mind.)  And come to think of it, in the USA “we the people” use “them” (the ‘damned politicians’) to create our own rules regarding behaviors and things.

But either way what it comes down to is what you “see” as “right” or “wrong” in a particular situation is going to be in large part defined by your own society (the one you live it), what you are taught (by parents and friends), your own heart, and the experiences you have gone through.

But either way, “right and wrong” are defined by YOU, and your own perceptions.  And therefore “abuse” can be defined as a thing based upon perceptions – yours, mine, his and hers – and the society that we have come to live in (and, it appears, are currently changing . . . but who’s “right” and “wrongs” and we believing??  Ours?  “Theirs”?  Or someone else’s?  Sometimes I (and we) find ourselves wondering.

Abuse.

My wife (by current sexual definition) was sexually abused at an early age by an older man.  Yet she’s never had any trouble (not one iota!) – in ever dealing with it.   She was twelve – he was twenty-one – and “they were in love” (or at least she was in love with him.)

“I was mature for my age,” she stoutly defends.  And (really!) – she doesn’t have any problem with it at all – and I’m not going to make it a problem.  After all, it’s all in whether she’s been abused – and in her own perceptions she has NOT – therefore, if anyone is having a problem with it – who’s problem IS it?  Not hers – it’s the problem of the person who has the problem in accepting that she doesn’t have a problem with it – not one of hers.

Abuse.

It’s a hard issue to deal with sometimes.  “Was it abuse?”  or “Discipline for it’s own time?”.  Hard to say sometimes . . .

But this thing I know for sure:

Abuse is abuse when it affects you negatively for a lifetime or so.  Abuse is abuse when it makes you sad, down, and depressed.

Abuse is abuse when you come away physically injured in some kind of way; when someone hurts you by degrading and wearing you down . . . reducing you to a nub in personality and outgoing behavior; when someone takes away your freedom and things – when they trap you and leave you all alone.

Abuse is when the hospital (in some well meaning society no doubt!) – comes and takes you and locks you away – and you come away ‘unhappier’ than you were before; with more social stigma (and blocks) in the way; more things happening in your life than you can stand or had before.  Not that this has happened to us – we are quite happy, if somewhat frustrated sometimes – and are sailing quite right and soothingly along – really! – but we did find that our incarceration in the nuthouse wasn’t something that was done to our own benefit – indeed, it made us bitter in some ways (though ultimately forgiving, mind you).  Mankind is quite a mess in ‘our own opinion’, by the way, and we won’t grieve when the whole operation goes to hell (or heaven) in its own handbasket or something . . .

But this abuse thing . . . it’s kind of interesting.  In some countries, cultures, and times almost anything has (at one time or another) been “acceptable”, “promoted” or simply overlooked (and over-ignored sometimes . . . like these things with “men’s issues” that we’ve been having here lately – ever since we’ve been ‘abused again’, that is!).

Just goes to show . . .

abuse is often a matter of perceptions.  But no matter how you cut it – when someone’s been hurt . . .

someone’s been abused.

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About jeffssong

JW is an adult childhood abuse survivor with DID*. He grew up in a violent family devoid of love and affection. He is a military brat and veteran. He no longer struggles with that past. In 1976 JW began writing "The Boy". It took 34 years to complete. It is currently on Kindle (http://www.amazon.com/dp/B004T3IVKK ), or if you prefer hard copy, on Amazon ( http://www.amazon.com/Boy-J-W/dp/1461022681). JW resides somewhere in the deep South. He is disabled and living with family. Note: Please feel free to take what you need; all is free to all. With that in mind, keep it that way to others. Thank you. We have 3 Blogs - One for our younger days, 0-10 (The Little Shop of Horrors); one for our Teen Alter and his 'friends' (also alters) with a lot of poetry; and finally "my" own, the Song of Life (current events and things)
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4 Responses to So What IS Abuse?

  1. Fix says:

    Abuse is, I think, hurting someone (unjustly, I have to add), whether physically or emotionally, and has little to do with social standards. Sure there is an aspect of judgment (social or personal) involved: one could say that your wife was abused… but was she really? Evidently it was consensual, and so the tag “abuse” is simply shorthand for “contact not socially sanctioned”. As you know, I have experience with this sort of thing: I had sex with adults as a young child, but it was _my_choice_; it was consensual, and I feel that this was _not_ abuse… whereas I very definitely feel I was abused by the kids who tricked me into “playing around” – and then told me I would lose my home and my parents’ love if they found out and used my “secret shame” to get sex (et cetera) from me for the next four years. They manipulated and blackmailed me, made me fearful and ashamed… this to me is abuse. On the other hand, most of my sexual contacts with adults as a child were actually empowering, and all of them were instigated by me; I cannot see it as abuse. On the contrary, those adults almost always treated me with more consideration and respect than I gave them… I wasn’t always very nice. I -at times- manipulated, and even blackmailed, them. Looked at without age prejudice, it would be fair to say that I _abused_them_. How ironic that society would only see an “innocent” child, victimized by abusive adults!

    -Fix

    P.S. It’s nice to see you writing in your blog again.

    =^.^=

    Like

  2. jeffssong says:

    Howdy Fix!
    Glad to see you. I agree: abuse is abuse whenever someone (or thing!) is physically, emotionally, or spiritually harmed, and “harm” is (in my definition) anything which produces a negative effect (e.g. a bullet wound – or a broken heart). Some abuse in life is unavoidable – life itself is abusive (after all, you ‘die’ at the end, right?).
    We find your past interesting in that here was a child coercing adults . . . and yet we had a shrink talk to us about just that thing. “If,” (the shrink said – paraphrasing here) – “a child approaches an adult about having sex – then the ADULT should ‘just say no’.” And yet (as always!) – we can see both sides (more, actually) – I can see ‘myself’ as an adult accepting that child’s behavior (while knowing socially it is wrong) – and in my younger days I might have actually said “yes” to that child (not recognizing the damage that sort of behavior might have on that child in the future in terms of shame and social stigma). AS a child – well, I begged for it, too, sometimes (so there *I* was, coercing someone who was more ‘adult’ than I into F’ing me) . . . and I can see where in a society this all might be considered “acceptable” (eg. the “Dancing Boys of India” or the Child Brides of Afganistan). I will probably always remain somewhat on the fence about this subject – but on the other hand, I do recognize that in today’s society such things are considered “wrong”, and therefore to engage in such behaviors would (or could) cause tremendous damage to a child – especially when they had grown up and realize what had been done (getting back to what that psychiatrist had said).

    To me one of the biggest indicators that “abuse is in the perceptions” is clearly illustrated by not only my wife’s past (and some of my own) – but by the phrase you used: “most of my sexual contacts with adults as a child were actually empowering, and all of them were instigated by me; I cannot see it as abuse.”
    And in that there is something well worth thinking about – not just by ‘us’ – but in society at large.
    And yeah – we’re trying to get back online more often – not easy, as we are pursuing an investigation . . . more and more it is starting to appear that we were illegally committed . . . by a non-medical person who was working in our doctor’s office and decided to make a professional medical judgement on their own – and used forgery and altered medical records to present their non-professional judgement as having come from the doctor . . . that, or our doctor is lying to us – but even he was surprised to see a ‘diagnosis’ written in our records . . . in someone’s handwriting other than his own. Go figure . . . next (today) – we go down to the Sheriff’s office and get a report – and see what we can find out in terms of who did this to us.

    BTW: my wife agrees – our being involuntarily locked up was NOT good for us and damaged us in very many ways, as well as causing some irrevocable damage to ourselves, our family, our household, and our friendships. . . . she loved the way we were when we came back (loving, helping, accepting, forgiving) – and hates the fact that we are more to the ‘normal’ – meaning somewhat of an asshole at times, hard, angry, and bitter at everyone.

    But (smile!) – that’s one of the advantages and wonders of being multiple personality – what she fears is gone is not (it’s just hidden) – while we do this ‘thing’ (meaning prosecuting somebody). LOL! Time for another blog . . .

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  3. TravelBee says:

    An adult having sex with a “consenting” child is abuse. Just because child brides and adult/child relationships are accepted in other cultures does not make it any less damaging. From a purely biological standpoint, a child is mentally, physically, and emotionally immature, not fully formed and developed. A child’s brain has not reached the level of maturity of an adult brain, and from that simple truth a child is without doubt less capable than an adult of making rational, self-reflective, or informed decisions. She simply doesn’t have the physical/biological capacity to, in comparison to an adult. Foresight, insight, and a true understanding of the consequences of such interactions requires an adult brain, in addition to life experience, both of which an adult has that a child does not in this abusive relationship. *This is not to say that children have no foresight, or insight, or that all adults are making wise and healthy decisions* The key here is what they are capable of. Even the most sensitive and wise child is limited by his biology, his age. He is simply not comparable to an adult.

    Further, damage done during childhood, as we abuse survivors know, causes serious and lasting changes to the brain, which effects pretty much everything. The period of childhood and adolescence marks a time in which the brain is incredibly plastic, easily marked by experience which in turn changes its physical structure, affecting hormonal states, moods, thought patterns, sleeping patterns, etc. throughout life. An adult’s brain has fully formed, though it is still plastic, it is at its full mature level. Children and adults are simply on different levels, and the adult will always have the upper hand.

    A child begging for sex is not coercing or manipulating anyone. Whereas an adult who takes that opportunity to gratify themselves is being exploitative, no matter how “empowering” the child finds it to be. In my mind it will only cause the child to continually confuse empowerment with exploitation throughout his life.

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    • jeffssong says:

      I wholeheartedly agree. Anything that causes harm – whether to the body or the brain, emotions or the attitude; financial behavior and otherwise – anything can constitute abuse, if it harms someone – especially if you know you are harming someone! I always say: “If you love the child enough to do such a thing – then you should love the child enough NOT to! For by doing it you place such a yoke of shame; a burden of self and social stigma . . . a burden that may hurt and cripple that child far into the future. So just don’t do it – not if you love them. Not if you truly love them the way you say you do.” (And this applies especially towards those NAMBA advocates out there!)

      However, as a sociologist (trained but not degreed) – I recognize that morals and values are driven (in large part) by the societies and families we are born into. What was ‘right’ for one has become ‘wrong’ or ‘abhorrent’ to another – whether through the annuals of time, communications, or distance. Western values are sweeping the world. What has been defined as child abuse (or what we, as Westerners, have defined as child abuse) – is rapidly changing – for the better (in “our” words) – and indeed, I do think that it is all for a good thing. But being MPD I can feel and think in a lot of different ways – and I can ‘consider’ things from ‘the other side’ and at different angles.
      It’s one of the things I use “MPD” for . . . understanding – even if it means understanding things some other parts of me would rather not understand …
      one of the curses – and the blessings . . . of being who I am.

      Like

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