Abuse in Adulthood
This blog contains sensitive content regarding abuse. Please be advised that this blog includes material on physical, domestic, psychological/emotional, and sexual abuse, and reflects on only intentional acts of neglect in any type of relationship.
What is Abuse?
The act of abuse is when an individual intentionally causes harm to another individual. According to “Ontario Women’s Justice Network” (2022), once an intentional act of abuse occurs it is possible that this behaviour can repeat over time, creating a long-term pattern of abuse. Only when acts of control or manipulation are intentional can an individual's behaviour be considered abusive. When a victim of abusive relationships of any kind, such as romantic, parental, etc., a common characteristic of neglect may be demonstrated (“Ontario Women’s Justice Network”, 2022). Neglect in any relationship can occur when an individual purposefully withholds proper care, love, and support required by another individual. An example of this could be an adult child not providing adequate care for an elderly parent who is ill because they do not want to care for them and not because they are unable to. With that being said if an individual experiences any form of unintentional harm or injury this is not to say that it was not traumatic.
Types of Abuse
Physical Abuse: intentional acts of force directed toward an individual that would result in physical harm, injury, or trauma. According to “Fraser Health” (2022), physical abuse looks like direct assaults but can also include indirect harm, such as forced feeding or withholding food or the purposeful misuse of medication. Physical abuse may be seen in all types of relationships including romantic, parental, sibling, or caregiving.
Domestic Abuse: this form of abuse can be seen between two people who are over the age of sixteen and who are, or were, intimate partners (“Fraser Health”, 2022). This form of abuse may entail controlling or threatening behaviours, and often time violence.
Psychological/Emotional Abuse: this refers to any behaviour that involves mistreating another individual’s emotions through threats of harm, abandonment, or suicide (“Fraser Health”, 2022). This could also include forcing a partner to socially isolate, consistently crossing boundaries, bullying in any form, or keeping a partner from expressing religious or cultural needs.
Sexual Abuse: where individuals may be forced, pressured, or deceived into partaking in sexual activities (“Fraser Health”, 2022). This is considered a form of abuse because the individual forced, pressured, or deceived into sexual acts may not have consented to such pursuits or could not have the capacity to understand the severity of the situation.
Financial or Material Abuse: involves an individual misusing another individual’s money to control their actions or their freedom, it could also entail using the individual’s money without their permission (“Fraser Health”, 2022). Controlling an individual through their finances is a form of manipulation that could force them to abide by rules created by the abuser.
Neglect in Adulthood
Neglect is defined as the act of ignoring an individual and their needs, including food, clothing, and other necessities (“Government of Canada, Department of Justice”, 2022). When an individual is emotionally neglecting a partner, parent, or child it could entail directly or indirectly telling them that their emotions and what they feel do not matter. According to the “Government of Canada, Department of Justice” (2022), when adults experience emotional neglect in any of their relationships they could be at greater risk of developing addictions, decreased self-esteem, and the inability to form healthy and long-lasting relationships. If individuals were to suffer from neglect in their adulthood rather than their childhood they could be more susceptible to developing anxiety, depression, and issues with regulating emotions.
How To Cope
Recognizing that a relationship is abusive is a challenging step, especially if the victim of abuse has been in this relationship for a long time. However, some ways of identifying abusive patterns before they progress could be acknowledging that abuse should never be tolerated. As previously stated, if one occurrence of abuse happens it can be likely that there will be patterns of future abuse; thus, it is important to recognize which behavior is abusive to understand that it should not be tolerated in any kind of relationship (“Thrive Global”, 2020).
Once abuse has been recognized, do not wait for the situation to escalate if it has not already. Trusting your instincts on whether a relationship is abusive may allow victims to act by removing themself from the relationship and seeking help from a support system (“Thrive Global”, 2020). Coming to terms with being a victim of abuse is an extremely challenging process as there is a high chance of suffering from unresolved trauma that continues to hinder everyday accomplishments. Processing trauma caused by abusive relationships is difficult work and can be very mentally taxing, however, speaking to practitioners could help victims of abuse make the healing undertaking less of a burden.
Where to Go From Here
By exploring the various forms of abuse in relationships and their definitions we hope that victims of abuse can be able to recognize the difference between healthy and unhealthy relationship characteristics. Identifying when neglect occurs in relationships is also a helpful tool to understand relationship boundaries and what is required of the partner.
If you or someone you know is experiencing abuse in relationships you could contact Victim 24/7 Support Line at 1-888-579-2888 or the Victims’ Justice Fund. There is also a 24-hour Cambridge crisis line available to anyone at any time, the phone number is 1-844-437-3247. If you are in need of creating a support system you could also consider reaching out to our low-budget, affordable therapy here at RMTC. You may also contact us via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by phone at (226) 894-4112 to schedule an appointment.
About family violence (2022). About family violence. Government of Canada, Department of Justice, Electronic Communications. Retrieved March 29, 2023, from https://www.justice.gc.ca/eng/cj-jp/fv-vf/about-apropos.html#neg
Abusive relationships: Coping strategies (2022). Thrive Global. Retrieved March 21, 2023, from https://community.thriveglobal.com/abusive-relationships-coping-strategies/
Signs and symptoms of adult abuse and neglect. Fraser Health. (2022). Retrieved March 15, 2023, from https://www.fraserhealth.ca/health-topics-a-to-z/adult-abuse-and-neglect/signs-and-symptoms-of-adult-abuse-and-neglect#.ZBHm7HbMJD8
What is abuse? OWJN. (2022). Retrieved March 29, 2023, from https://owjn.org/understand-abuse/