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Abuse, including child abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, verbal abuse
Abuse is defined in the dictionary as "an evil or corrupt practice; deceit, betrayal, molestation, violation" and comes in many forms, eg sexual abuse, physical abuse, child abuse, abuse of power, bullying, harassment, stalking, rape, torture, etc. All abuse is violent, be it physical, emotional, psychological, or a combination. We define seven types of abuse below. The common denominator of all abuse is the collection of behaviors we call bullying.
The abuser is an individual who lives in a state of unusually high anxiety and who has not learned to deal with that anxiety in the way normal people have. The abuser is insecure, immature, and inadequate, especially in the areas of interpersonal and behavioral skills. If the abuse is of a sexual nature, the abuser is usually sexually inadequate.
The high anxiety seems to be the result of an inability to relate to other people combined with the fear of exposure of that person's inadequacy, immaturity and insecurity. This leads the abuser to want to control and dominate others, having never learnt how to interact with others in normal ways. Often, the abuser is psychopathic (physically violent) or sociopathic (psychologically violent) and despite being fearful of exposure, doesn't show the normal activation of the fight or flight mechanism.
Abusers are usually brought up in a dysfunctional family, and the more abusive the adult, the more dysfunctional the family. Often, the father, if present, is violent and abusive. Perhaps the mother is co-dependent, a successful survival strategy when living with a violent partner; however, co-dependency also perpetuates the violence as it avoids dealing with the issue. Usually one or both parents are sociopathic or psychopathic. Occasionally, the child is over-protected, usually by the mother, and thus never allowed to develop as an individual human being. Sometimes, the child is ignored in favor of a sibling.
Before blaming the parents, the reason parents are dysfunctional is because they were brought up in dysfunctional families. The more dysfunctional the parent, the more dysfunctional were their parents ... and so on. Most people are never taught parenting skills. The sole teachers of parenting skills are thus ... our parents. It's not that we actively teach our kids to parent - kids learn by example. We grow up and repeat what they did to us. If all you have ever known is abuse, that is the only way you know how to behave. Human beings do not automatically know what is right and what is wrong; we have to learn it.
The child lives in a dysfunctional environment where abuse, violence or neglect is the norm; as the subject of abuse, the child cannot predict the behavior of the responsible adults, and therefore has no control. The child learns, usually from an early age, that using bullying behaviors brings relief from anxiety. With so few people able to recognize bullying for what it is, and with strategies of denial, distraction and feigning victimhood perfected by about the age of five, the child has found a successful strategy for reducing anxiety, and thus surviving. Controlling other children through violent behavior means brings a sense of power (control) to the child; he can't predict or control his parents but he can control other (smaller or less physically strong) children. His targets also become useful objects onto which he can freely displace his own aggression.
The seven types of abuse:
Violent adults tend to be those whose childhood was characterized by experiencing the above behaviors on a regular basis, combined with lack of affection and lack of expressed love. The three influencers of stress, namely control, prediction and expectation are pivotal. When a child is brought up under these constant conditions, those areas of the brain, which deal with interpersonal, behavioral and social skills, simply fail to develop normally. In many cases of violent offenders (eg serial killers), their brain's frontal lobes - which modify and mitigate violent urges - are measurably smaller than in normal people. See the work of Dorothy Otnow Lewis and Jonathan Pincus for further insight into violent adult behavior and its origins in childhood.
A child who is subjected to regular abuse, even if entirely non-physical, needs an outlet for their consequent aggression; frequently they will act out their violent impulses on another child at school (bullying), or sibling, or family pet. Being violent towards others because they are violent towards you combined with the fact that you are unable to deal with other people's violence is called displacement aggression. Violence towards animals (eg torturing the cat or killing the dog) is now recognized as a common early warning sign of forthcoming violence in adulthood.
We're all guilty of some of these things (especially the emotional and psychological abuse) some of the time, either unwittingly or when we are stressed. However, children are resilient and if you avoid physically punitive responses (eg use restraint and the promise of a bonus or reward for good behavior rather than punishment for bad behavior), educate them in how to show dignity and respect, teach them the skills of assertiveness (which include psychological self-defense), talk to them and assure them of your love regularly, they're likely to grow up to be normal, well-adjusted and intelligent people - who will then pass on these benefits to their children.
The aggressive anxious adult learns that bullying results in relief from anxiety, which produces that nice warm feeling called satisfaction. Gratification is the indulgence in the feeling of satisfaction resulting from relief from anxiety brought about by bullying. Bullying is therefore emotional and psychological displacement aggression. Gratification is a behavior loop in which the adult is trapped, and is the common denominator behind most forms of violence, especially sexual abuse and sexual violence.
Pornography has always been a traditional outlet for sexual frustration, and probably always will be. Its acceptability is determined by current social values. Whilst most people do not object to "soft" porn (and may even secretly indulge occasionally, perhaps just to see what they are missing), many doubt the value and wisdom of "hard" porn (except those who make their living from the profits thereof). However, the harder the pornographic content, the more abusive it tends to be.
It could be said that an individual's need, and hence dependency, on pornography is directly proportional to that individual's inadequacy. Others may regard it as a substitute for lack of opportunity.
Why don't targets of abuse report their abuse? There are many reasons:
as well as
PTSD is a normal and natural emotional reaction to a deeply disturbing and shocking experience. It's possible half the population suffers PTSD to varying extents; mostly it is diagnosed as "stress" and "anxiety". Many supposed mental illnesses are probably symptoms of PTSD resulting from abusive experiences in childhood and should more properly be regarded as a psychiatric injury.
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