What is abuse?
When someone does something to hurt or scare another person over and over again, they are abusing that person. Abuse includes hurting a person’s body, hurting their feelings, or making them do things that make them feel bad or that they don’t want to do. Abuse is also about trying to make a person feel like they are not smart, or strong, or able to make decisions about their own life; it is about trying to control and have power over someone else.
Anyone can be abused, but very often in families where abuse is happening, kids and moms are being hurt or scared. It could be that your mom is being abused by your dad, your mom’s boyfriend, or by her female partner. If you see your mom being abused that can be very hard for you. You might not know what to do and be confused, especially if you love or care about the person who is hurting your mom and you think your mom does too.
No matter what, abuse is not okay. No one deserves to be abused.
Often people think that abusers must be scary, loud, dangerous people who you could pick out of a crowd. This is not true. Abusers can be anyone. Abusers are not just one ‘type’ of person. This is what also makes it really hard for women who are abused and their kids to talk about it – often people just don’t believe them.
What does abuse look like?
When someone tries to control another person by saying or doing something to have power over them, and they do this over and over again – that is abuse.
Anger is not the same as abuse, although it’s easy to confuse them. Anger is a feeling, and everyone feels angry sometimes. There are healthy ways to deal with our anger that are not hurtful to others. Abuse is a way of acting towards someone else that is always hurtful.
People who are abusive will say and do many different things to have power and control over someone else. There are many different types of abuse including physical, emotional, psychological, verbal, sexual, financial, spiritual and social abuse.
How is this affecting me?
You’ve been dealing with a tough situation and it’s ok if it gets you down.
Here’s what other people said about how abuse affected them:
- “I’m nervous all the time”
- “I feel like it’s my fault”
- “I get angry at everyone”
- “I’m too embarrassed to tell anyone”
- “I get depressed like I can’t be bothered with anything”
- “I have nightmares and can’t sleep”
- “I feel like I’m not as good as other people”
- “I don’t know what to do. I feel helpless”
- “Sometimes I feel like I want to hurt myself”
- “I just want to tune out and forget it. Sometimes I get drunk or stoned, but that only blocks it out for a while”
Maybe you have felt like this or maybe you have a different reaction. Remember, there’s no right or wrong way to feel.
If you have experienced abuse or domestic violence in your family, it can affect how you relate to your family and other people like:
- Avoiding going home or being around your family
- Not trusting family members, or other people
- Getting confused about how you feel about family members (for example, “I love her but I want her to stop hurting me”)
- Trying to be quiet and keep the peace so you don’t upset anyone
- Feeling responsible for looking after members of your family, or trying to protect them
Sometimes you might feel like everything is hopeless, or that you’re not a good person. But this isn’t true.
You’ve probably done a lot to try to deal with the situation already. And you’ve probably learned a few things already that can make you a stronger person. Things you might learn (or might already have learned) could be:
- Ways of dealing with problems
- Courage in facing tough situations
- A strong sense of justice – what’s fair and what’s not fair
- An understanding of the problems that people who are abused face
“Having been abused myself, I’d say if it’s happening in your family, find someone you can tell. It takes a while to find the right person, but keep trying because you feel a lot better if you don’t have to deal with it on your own”.