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Debunking Misconceptions About Abuse Myths

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Abusive behavior and control is an unfortunate reality for many in the UK, whether they have experienced domestic abuse at the hands of an ex-partner or institutional abuse in the form of workplace bullying. Abuse is a broad field and one which bears society’s ills at their ugliest. Despite the widespread nature of such toxic behavior, there remain some common misconceptions surrounding the subject – which, naturally, bear correcting.

Definition and Types of Abuse

First, it is vitally important that you understand the various different forms that abuse can take. Many people are content with defining abuse as sustained physical harm to a given victim, but this describes a small fraction of a much greater, pervasive, and pernicious whole. 

Abuse is sustained cruelty, meted out in a variety of manners and often by someone the victim had reason to trust. Abuse is also often an expression of power or control, whether a male spouse exerts physical strength and emotional influence over their partner or a parent using physicality to dominate their child.

There are several specific forms which abuse can take. Physical abuse has already been acknowledged, and sexual abuse is the egregious form that earns the most media coverage; however, financial and emotional abuse can, separately and together, ruin victims’ lives for years to come.

Prevalence of Abuse

Abuse is unforgivably common in today’s society, in spite of rising awareness of abuse and abuse triggers – and in spite of a society that continues to keen further and further towards equality and equity. According to the National Centre for Domestic Violence, 1 in 5 of all adults will experience domestic abuse once in their lifetimes. Further, over 1.5 million abuse-related incidents are reported to police each year.

Debunking Common Myths about Abuse:

Myth: “Abuse only happens in certain demographics.”

While it is true that women and minorities are disproportionately affected by abuse, no one is precluded from experiencing it in their lifetime.

Myth: “Abuse is always physical.”

As demonstrated above, abuse comes in many forms.

Myth: “Abuse is a private matter; it’s not our business.”

Abuse often occurs behind closed doors, but it should not stay there. If someone believes someone is a victim of abuse, they should be seeking to support them in whichever ways would be appropriate.

Myth: “Leaving an abusive relationship is easy.”

Victims of abuse do not voluntarily stay in toxic situations for little to no reason. Leaving an abusive relationship is extremely difficult for a number of reasons, including the fear of reprisal from the abuser and the by-products of financial abuse.

How to Help and Support:

In instances where abuse led to tangible or recorded physical and emotional harm, there may be opportunities for civil recourse – if not criminal justice. Protracted legal battles are not an ideal route to seek help for surviving abuse, but if compensation is awarded, it can be put to good use in recovery. The most important help an abuse victim can receive is from understanding and well-read close family, who can provide pastoral support and well-being as well as help with figuring out the next steps in the journey.

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