Understanding What Abuse IS and Recognizing Abusers

Understand abuse and recognizing abusers
Brass Knuckles

Abuse is a word that carries a whole lot of baggage. When most people think about “abusers” they think of wife beaters and people that take express anger violently against others, rapists, pedophiles – well you get the picture. But those are only the extreme definitions of what defines an abuser.

When I didn’t know what abuse was, I didn’t know. When I didn’t know that there were abusers in my life I didn’t know who those abusers were. That might sound logical but there are pretty deep roots associated with this denial and with not recognizing abuse AND abusers.

I am writing this “mini snapshot of truth” today because of a profound comment that I got on my blog post “How Children Become the Black Sheep of the family” this morning from Michelle. (comment #55)

Michelle said “I kept trying to be validated for many years. (I should have realized you can’t get validation from an abuser, but I hadn’t yet recognized her as an abuser at that point”)

This comment brought me back to the first time I realized that there were “abusers” in my life. There were people who abused their power and authority over other people and they were in MY life too. I remember the first time that I actually realized that my mother was abusive. I had been at a seminar about the misuse of power and control in relationships and I was exhausted from all the information that I was trying to comprehend. On the second day of the seminar I suddenly realized that my father in law was a huge bully. He used bursts of anger to control and manipulate everyone into doing whatever it was he wanted. He used the fear of what he would DO if people didn’t do what he wanted against everyone. Understanding that he was an abuser was suddenly so clear to me that I felt like I couldn’t breathe while simultaneously having this major revelation and understanding which felt like a relief. It was kind of like a “OH NOW I GET IT” moment. About an hour later I realized that my mother was an abusive woman; an abuser in more than once sense of that word. I realized that her tactics were very different than my father in laws tactics were, but none the less she used her power to disempower me and to get her own way.  That was the moment in my life where the seed that would grow into my freedom, took root.  

For months after that day I took apart all kinds of false truth that I had about the way relationship works and realized that more truthfully I had way more examples of the ways that relationship doesn’t work. I began to see how I had been groomed to accept abusive behaviour in relationship as “normal” and functional. I had grown up accepting abuse as “just the way life is”.

There were a few key steps in getting to the beginning of that process of recognizing abuse and abusers in my own life. The reason that the Comment from Michelle struck me so hard is because I remembered how HARD it was for me to see these important family members as “abusers” in the first place and that until I did, I did not make any significant progress in my healing. I always talk about how I had to find the roots of where I got broken in order to achieve emotional healing in the first place and I thought that denial was always about ME. I didn’t realize that I was in denial about the very people that had DONE (or were still doing) the damage in the first place.

I was practicing positive thinking, letting go and “acceptance is the answer” without ever facing the truth about what I was trying to let go of, and what I had not actually accepted yet. It was much easier to skip those harder steps of looking at the truth about some of the people in my life.

I remember the foggy misty feeling of realizing that my own mother had done things that I was in denial about the very nature of those things. I “knew” that those things were wrong, but I glossed them over and I never considered that those things were legally classified as abusive. The impact was mind altering. It was frightening and enlightening at the same time. I remember having this realization that the root to the fog was in that denial. I felt this “other worldly” kind of unbalanced and sideways feeling like the world was tilting and I was tilting with it. I felt unstable and kind of dizzy but at the same time I somehow knew that this “shift” in the way I saw things was the answer. It turned out to be the answer that I had been both looking for and avoiding my entire life.

It isn’t so much about blame as it is about the truth. Blame was like a stepping stone on the journey; it was necessary for me to go there. There was blame that had been misapplied to me and I had to put it back where it belonged. Once I saw the truth I was able to heal. I no longer have the anger and resentments that I had for most of my life. I also no longer have the pain of living with such broken self esteem and low self worth that I mistakenly believed was there because there was something “wrong” with me.

The following links contain information about the definitions of abuse, neglect and psychological abuse; these definitions and definitions of abuse like these helped me to come out of the denial about my childhood and more importantly helped me to validate the damage that was done. Just like I had to recognize that there were abusive people in my life in order to face that I had in fact been abused, I had to acknowledge the damage before I could heal from it.

Definitions of Neglect http://www.childwelfare.gov/pubs/factsheets/whatiscan.cfm

Neglect is the failure of a parent, guardian, or other caregiver to provide for a child’s basic needs. Neglect may be:

  • Physical (e.g., failure to provide necessary food or shelter, or lack of appropriate supervision)
  • Medical (e.g., failure to provide necessary medical or mental health treatment)3
  • Educational (e.g., failure to educate a child or attend to special education needs)
  • Emotional (e.g., inattention to a child’s emotional needs, failure to provide psychological care, or permitting the child to use alcohol or other drugs)


a·buse play_w2(“A0030900”) (-byz)

tr.v. a·bused, a·bus·ing, a·bus·es

1. To use wrongly or improperly; misuse: abuse alcohol; abuse a privilege.

2. To hurt or injure by maltreatment; ill-use.

3. To force sexual activity on; rape or molest.

4. To assail with contemptuous, coarse, or insulting words; revile.

5. Obsolete To deceive or trick.

n. (-bys)

1. Improper use or handling; misuse: abuse of authority; drug abuse.

2. Physical maltreatment: spousal abuse.

3. Sexual abuse.

4. An unjust or wrongful practice: a government that commits abuses against its citizens.

5. Insulting or coarse language: verbal abuse.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychological_abuse   ~ Definitions of Psychological Abuse

The U.S. Department of Justice defines emotionally abusive traits as including causing fear by intimidation, threatening physical harm to self, partner, children, or partner’s family or friends, destruction of pets and property, forcing isolation from family, friends, or school or work.[4]

In 1996, Health Canada argued that emotional abuse is motivated by urges for “power and control”,[3] and defines emotional abuse as including rejecting, degrading, terrorizing, isolating, corrupting/exploiting and “denying emotional responsiveness” as characteristic of emotional abuse.

Please share your thoughts about the definitions of abuse and abusers or any other thoughts you would like to share.

Exposing Truth because nothing else leads to freedom and wholeness;

Darlene Ouimet

244 response to "Understanding What Abuse IS and Recognizing Abusers"

  1. By: cinderella Posted: 4th September

    After coming out of major fog this year regarding the evil roots and who is responsible…I went NC and plan on that for the rest of my life. It is a settled thing in my heart and mind and I am ok with it. Before I could SEE no way could I have been free to do this.
    So I have NC’d everyone in my FOO and everyone THEY are connected to- except my daughters. Now I see NM is starting to weazel her way in to my daughers life again- to puppet master HER AGAIN. my daughter has been used to glean information and to be told lies about me. I has a feeling this was happening again as my daughter has been more silent. This is a pattern. My daughter has some of these tendencies. I have been guarded with my daughter about revealing much about myself. Even where we live- because of the evil NP’s and NS’s and NFOO. They are ALL NM’s puppets. I was blown away by the evil that was finally revealed about her from my whole life..and the evil that was revealed when my son and I moved near to them. NM has been the central key to every bad thing in my life- and the lives of my children- my marriage even. I have been blown away by all the connections that have connected this year.
    SO I need to know from all others who have gone through this or are now going through this- what do I DO about my daughter? I am not calling or offering any information. I am concerned anything I share with my other daughter might inadvertently be mentioned to her and then she will share with her cousins or aunt and then the chain continues that leads every time ultimately to the NM puppet master. Shes been a master at this for so long and fooled so many for so long.
    I dearly miss my four grandchildren by my olderst daughter that is being puppeted.

  2. By: cinderella Posted: 4th September

    As I continue with my therapist I am seeing she is NOT like these others…all things are being revealed.
    She has gone through much of this with this same church and actually God moved her out and away from them and here.
    She is not actually friends with these same people. There was a family crisis that her family went through last year and God mightily protected her young daughter’s life. This was became a very public thing= even to national news and this small town rose up to the occassion with much support in prayer and helping with their costs. So yes, many became ‘fb friends’ at that time but she does not ‘know’ them.
    She has been very honorable with my time and all that we’ve worked on together. I really feel she is here to help me through all of this. There is Peace.
    I am setting more healthy boundaries where I could not before- even two weeks ago- with these others..I have become more bold- not fearful. I unfriended one when I saw that she had been what is referred to as Trolling on FB. and also did that for many others and did not feel quilty- actually felt BETTER! and OK and that is GOOD!
    Thank you so much for responding and helping me to feel validated here.

  3. By: Reborn Posted: 20th August

    Cinderella, your right. There A LOT of hypocritical “Christians” out there. To be perfectly honest, I just deleted two of them off of my facebook yesterday when the both messaged me and said, “If you only had enough faith, God would heal your medical condition”. I’m all for God however there is nothing more I can’t stand than argumentative Christians trying to preach and prove their point. They don’t offer any validation, but instead condemnation. Remember how the pharisees condemned Jesus on the Sabbath day? In Luke 6:2 they said, “Why are you breaking the law by harvesting grain on the Sabbath?” And what did Jesus reply? He said, “Haven’t you read in the Scriptures what David did when he and his companions were hungry? He went into the house of God and broke the law by eating the sacred loaves of bread that only the priests can eat. He also gave some to his companions.”. Jesus thought that helping people was more important than the law. And it appears to me that the Christian Hypocrites you know are doing the same thing. I personally have gotten them out of my life. YOU were the victim. You deserve to be validated and hugged. If they are not going to do that they have no business being in your life. I would also get rid of that therapist. (this is just my opinion–you don’t have to take my advice). I’m sorry your going through all this. When you were a child, you had listen to what your parents told you. But now, you don’t. You are free to set healthy boundaries that are good for you.

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