What is Abuse?
The APA Dictionary of Psychology provides this description of abuse:
interactions in which one person behaves in a violent, demeaning or invasive manner towards another person (e.g. child or partner).”
Abuse can occur at any age. Child abuse, including neglect, is understood to be either a major cause of a contributing factor to many different psychiatric diagnoses. Abuse as an adult can also cause mental disorders, and is a major cause of posttraumatic stress disorder. The abuse can take many different forms including sexual, physical, emotional and psychological. Not all abuse involves physical contact.
Types of Abuse
- Physical abuse
- Sexual abuse and rape
- Emotional abuse
- Psychological abuse
- Spiritual abuse
- Ritual abuse – also known as organized abuse
- Neglect is the most common type of abuse, this includes emotional neglect
- Financial abuse – for example in domestic violence
Sexual Abuse and Child Sexual Abuse – How does it happen?
“the abuser’s desire to abuse is not created by the child – it is there before the child appears
Child sexual abuse is not spontaneous or “accidental” in any way. Finkelhor developed a model that outlined four preconditions of child sexual abuse. These preconditions are:
- motivation to abuse a child sexually, sometimes because they fear rejection from adults or to make themselves feel more powerful by victimizing someone else
- the overcoming of internal inhibitions on the part of the perpetrator, for example: convincing themselves it is not harmful to the child, using alcohol to overcome their own inhibitions, discussing abuse with other pedophiles which encourages them to see child sexual abuse as acceptable, looking for other justifications to act on their desires
- the overcoming of external inhibitions on the part of the perpetrator, for example: arranging to be alone with the child or gaining the trust of child’s family
- the overcoming of the child’s inhibitions, for example: coercion, use of force, drugs/alcohol, child’s lack of awareness of abuse, targeting a child emotionally deprived