Abuse is, sadly, more common in society than we would like to think. Statistics provided by the NSPCC suggest that around one in 14 children are physically abused. Numbers provided by The Lantern Project, an organisation that seeks to support the victims of child abuse, suggest that around a quarter of young adults have experienced sexual abuse in childhood. Refuge, an organisation that provides support for victims of domestic abuse, state that 2 women are killed each week in England and Wales by a current or former partner.
Whether you’ve been a victim of abuse in the past, or you’re wondering how to move on from an abusive relationship, it’s important to know that help is at hand. With the right support most survivors of abuse are able to make a complete recovery and turn their experience into a powerful stepping-stone towards a better future for themselves, one in which you feel more confident and resilient than you ever thought possible.
Abuse is generally classed under four main categories (some victims may however experience multiple forms of abuse simultaneously):
Physical abuse involves acts of violence and intentional harm towards your physical body. It may include beating, burning, scratching, scarring, scolding, strangling, suffocating, and many other forms of physical harm. Many sufferers of physical abuse feel impelled to hide their scars to protect the abuser or because the abuser blames the victim for making them do it.
Sexual abuse involves the intentional transgression of personal boundaries, and violations of your body and genitalia. Sexual abuse can occur in childhood or within adult relationships. Sexual abuse, like all forms of abuse, often leads to complex feelings of guilt and shame that leave the victim feeling somehow responsible for the abuse. Abusers often manipulate victims in this way so as to prevent them from talking openly about their abuse.
Psychological abuse may involve such things as ‘mind games’ or outright bullying and verbal abuse. Victims of psychological abuse may feel uncertain and insecure. Often the abuser is drawn to manipulate and take advantage of individuals with pre-existing self-esteem issues. Abusers may be compulsive liars or cheaters, or individuals with obsessional or paranoid tendencies and high desire for control. Psychological and emotional abuse may involve threats of physical violence that are never actually fully carried out.
Neglect is a complex and often subtle type of abuse that can take many forms. Some forms of neglect involve an extreme absence of care taking of vulnerable individuals. For example, children have basic needs that require an attentive and loving caregiver. In certain situations these needs are not met, leading to complications in the future for the recipient. In certain circumstances the abuse of neglect is intentional, and stems from mental health issue in the caregiver, in other cases the abuse occurs due to a basic lack of psychological or emotional resources on the part of the caregiver. In other words, the caregiver isn’t intentionally neglectful, they simply don’t know how to fulfil the role that they have created for themselves.
Culturally, the assumption is that neglect most frequently occurs in low-income families, where resources are noticeably stretched. Neglect can however occur at all levels of the socioeconomic spectrum, and include high-income families that provide a wealth of economic resources but fail to provide for the child's basic needs for warmth, affection, support, or autonomy. This common form of neglect almost always goes unnoticed.
Abuse is a heavy word, but unfortunately abuse is far more frequent in society than we would like to think. Abuse frequently occurs behind closed doors, or behind a veneer of respectability, and is usually shrouded in shame and secrecy. Victims are frequently manipulated and coerced into either taking part or colluding in covering up the abuse. In many cases of abuse non-abusive family members are compelled to cover-up abuses in order to maintain the veneer of respectability and prevent shame being brought on the family. In other cases, non-abusive family members are also victims of the abuse themselves and don’t know how to handle the situation.
Abuse is often a complex issue due to the interpersonal dynamics and relationships that envelop the abuser and their victims. In other circumstances abuse occurs outside of this relationship. Predatory abusers may seek vulnerable individuals to dominate and abuse. Unfortunately this type of abuse also frequently gets shrouded in shame and secrecy, with the vulnerable party blaming themselves for being responsible for, or even instigating the abuse. Victims of abuse often fear rejection or abandonment from their caregivers or support network if their experience ever came to light. This is common in male victims of rape, male victims of domestic abuse, and child sex abuse that occurs in an isolated event.
Unfortunately victims of abuse can experience a wide variety of symptoms and problems due the complex interpersonal nature of abuse. Common issues include:
The fact that abuse can have such a broad and damaging effect on your experience of life means that the appropriate help can have a profoundly positive effect on your life and your self-esteem.
While abuse can have a tremendously damaging impact on your sense of self and your relationship with others, a full recovery is entirely possible with the right help and support. I’m incredibly passionate about helping people like you overcome the effects of the past and take back the control in your life. I’d be honoured if you’d join me at The Bristol Psychotherapy & Hypnotherapy Clinic or online via Skype for a FREE initial consultation in which we can discuss your experience in privacy and comfort.
"I fully appreciate that your experiences can be both confusing and difficult to talk about and I ensure that you are given the utmost respect and dignity to be able to work through your experiences safely and gently."
I fully appreciate that your experiences can be both confusing and difficult to talk about and I ensure that you are given the utmost respect and dignity to be able to work through your experiences safely and gently. Together we will work towards a more secure, stable, strong, and happy future for you. If you this is something that you want to see happen in your life why don't you get in touch to book your free initial consultation and we’ll start taking those steps together.