Violence is the intentional infliction of physical harm by one person on another. In addition to physical abuse, there is emotional abuse, psychological abuse, and verbal abuse.
There are some explanations for violence that occurs in relationships. Cultural factors in our society suggest that violence is tolerated or even promoted. We allow violence in our media, advertising, video games, news, movies, and TV. Corporal punishment is accepted. Men are seen as aggressive, and women and children considered property prior to the late 19th century. Community factors such as social isolation also contribute to violence. In our mobile society, we often live far from supportive family and may not even know our neighbors.
Poverty is considered a factor in abuse as it contributes to stress, drug abuse, and inadequate resources for food and health care. Inaccessible or unaffordable community services are a factor in violence, as well. There is lack of medical care for children and the elderly in our country. In addition, there is frequently a lack of supervision in childcare and elder care facilities. A lack of violence prevention programs, which could provide early intervention, is a contributing factor in the level of violence we currently see in the US.
Individual and family factors such as psychopathology or psychiatric conditions contribute to violence, abuse, and neglect. People who are dependent, jealous, have a strong need to control, are chronically unhappy and dissatisfied, angry and aggressive, and insist on quick involvement with partners, may blame others for their problems, exhibit a Jekyll-and-Hyde personality, live in isolation, abuse substances, and may have had a troubled childhood. There may also be biological factors such as higher levels of testosterone, which can be caused by steroid use. A father modeling abuse toward mother and fatherless homes also tend to be factors that contribute to violence in relationships.
Effects of the Abuse
The effects of the abuse can be emotional or physical injury or even death. Battering is the single major cause of injury to women in the US.
Other common effects of abuse include:
- Feelings of helplessness
- Symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Suicide attempts
- Stress-induced illness
If the abuse was sexual, it may destroy one’s ability to trust and sustain intimate relationships.
Effects of Partner Abuse on Children
If the abuse occurs during pregnancy, there are higher rates of miscarriage and birth defects. The March of Dimes states that physical abuse of pregnant women causes more birth defects than all the diseases put together for which children receive immunizations. It can affect psychological well-being, create violence in their own relationships, and cause behavior problems.
Child abuse is physical abuse such as beating or burning, verbal abuse such as insulting or demeaning the child, and neglect or failure to provide adequate food, hygiene, medical care, adult supervision, or through emotional neglect.
There are many factors that may lead to child abuse, such as parental psychopathology or a psychiatric condition of the parent, unrealistic expectations, social isolation, history of abuse in the parents’ family, displacement of aggression. One mother, unaware that most children are not developmentally ready to walk until age 1, considered her 8-month-old baby “lazy” because he would not get up and walk, and she was abusive toward him. In our society today many are isolated from family and supportive networks, living in large urban or remote rural areas where we do not know our neighbors.
The effects of child abuse are many. A social effect is that relationships may be more tenuous, leading to an inability to trust or love others. More aggression, low self-esteem, depression, and low academic achievement can be caused by child abuse, as are communication disorders and learning disabilities. Child abuse can lead to physical injuries that sometimes result in disfigurement, scarring, physical disability, and even death. Child abuse can lead to increased risk of alcohol abuse, suicidal tendencies, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
There are two kinds of child sexual abuse. Extrafamilial is when the perpetrator is someone outside the family who is not related to the child (such as a stepfather, neighbor, or stranger) and intrafamilial or what is also called incest, someone within the family (such as the father or sister).
Sexual abuse is sexual contact or attempted sexual contact, which includes intercourse, fondling of the breasts and genitals, and oral sex. The effects of child sexual abuse are many and include earlier sex and bearing a child before age 19, lower self-esteem, higher levels of depression, running away from home, having more sexual partners, sexual dysfunctions, anxiety disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, lower marital satisfaction, more likely to experience physical and psychological dating aggression, and more likely to be sexually abused again.
Prevention of child sexual abuse can be helped through education such as the good touch/bad touch programs, parental education programs, parent support groups, individual counseling, and home visitation programs.
If you have been abused seek help. There is a national number to call: Childhelp USA (1-800-422-4453) or go to http://www.childhelp.org/.
Parent, Sibling, Elder Abuse
Because parents are bigger it is often assumed that they are immune from abuse by their children. However, teenagers have been known to abuse their parents and to even cause their deaths.
Sibling abuse is not your run of the mill daily squabbles that siblings have, but serious and often more violent behaviors.
Elder abuse from neglect such as being too busy to give the elderly needed medicine, failing to take them to receive necessary medical care, or failing to provide adequate food, clean clothes, and a clean bed. This neglect is the most common form of elder abuse. There can also be physical abuse to the elderly caused by inflicting injury, pain, or sexual assault. Psychological abuse is abuse that can take the form of verbal abuse, deprivation of mental health services, harassment, and deception. Social abuse is abuse caused by unreasonable confinement and isolation, lack of supervision, and abandonment. Legal abuse is caused by the improper or illegal use of the elder’s resources.
There is something called Granny Dumping which may be no more than an urban legend. It involves the dumping of the elderly on the steps of a hospital. The hospital is obligated to treat them and find them a place to stay. All of which is paid for from state funds – your tax dollars and mine. The draining of the elderly person’s resources may cause Granny Dumping.