Abuse is the improper usage or treatment for a bad purpose, often to unfairly or improperly gain benefit. Abuse can come in many forms, such as: physical or verbal maltreatment, injury, sexual assault, violation, rape, unjust practices; wrongful practice or custom; offense; crime, or otherwise verbal aggression.[1]

Types and contexts of abuse

Abuse of authority

Abuse of authority, in the form of political corruption, is the use of legislated or otherwise authorized powers by government officials for illegitimate private gain. Misuse of government power for other purposes, such as repression of political opponents and general police brutality, is not considered political corruption. Neither are illegal acts by private persons or corporations not directly involved with the government. An illegal act by an officeholder constitutes political corruption only if the act is directly related to their official duties.

Abuse of authority is separated from Abuse of power in that the act is originally condoned, but is extended beyond that initially conceived and is in not all cases strictly illegal.

Abuse of corpse

See: Abuse of corpse

Abuse of discretion

An abuse of discretion is a failure to take into proper consideration the facts and law relating to a particular matter; an arbitrary or unreasonable departure from precedent and settled judicial custom.[2]

Abuse of dominance

See: Abuse of dominance

Abuse of indulgences

See: Abuse of indulgences

Abuse of information

Abuse of information typically involves a breach of confidence or plagiarism, or extending the confidence of information beyond those authorized.

In the financial world, Insider trading can also be considered a misuse of internal information that gives an unfair advantage in investment.

Abuse of power

Abuse of power, in the form of "malfeasance in office" or "official misconduct", is the commission of an unlawful act, done in an official capacity, which affects the performance of official duties. Malfeasance in office is often grounds for a for cause removal of an elected official by statute or recall election.

Further reading

  • Chomsky, Noam Failed States: The Abuse of Power and the Assault on Democracy (American Empire Project) (2007)

Abuse of process

A cause of action in tort arising from one party making a malicious and deliberate misuse or perversion of regularly issued court process (civil or criminal) not justified by the underlying legal action.

Abuse of rank

Rankism (also known as abuse of rank) is a term coined by Robert W. Fuller. Fuller has defined rankism as: "abusive, discriminatory, or exploitative behavior towards people who have less power because of their lower rank in a particular hierarchy".[3] Fuller claims that rankism also describes the abuse of the power inherent in superior rank, with the view that rank-based abuse underlies many other phenomena such as bullying, racism, sexism, and homophobia.

Abuse of statistics

See: Abuse of statistics

Abuse of the system

See: Abuse#Gaming the system

Abuse of trust

See: Position of trust

Ad hominem abuse

Ad hominem abuse (also called personal abuse or personal attacks) usually involves insulting or belittling one's opponent in order to invalidate his or her argument, but can also involve pointing out factual but ostensible character flaws or actions which are irrelevant to the opponent's argument.

Animal abuse

Animal abuse is the infliction of suffering or harm upon animals, other than humans, for purposes other than self-defense. More narrowly, it can be harm for specific gain, such as killing animals for fur. Diverging viewpoints are held by jurisdictions throughout the world.

Anti-social behaviour

Anti-social behaviour is often seen as public behaviour that lacks judgement and consideration for others and may cause them or their property damage. It may be intentional, as with vandalism or graffiti, or the result of negligence. Persistent anti-social behaviour may be a manifestation of an antisocial personality disorder. The counterpart of anti-social behaviour is pro-social behaviour, namely any behaviour intended to help or benefit another person, group or society[4]


Bullying is repeated acts over time that involves a real or perceived imbalance of power with the more powerful individual or group attacking those who are less powerful.[5] Bullying may consist of three basic types of abuse - verbal, physical and emotional. It typically involves subtle methods of coercion such as intimidation. Bullying can be defined in many different ways. Although the UK currently has no legal definition of bullying,[6] some US states have laws against it. Bullying is usually done to coerce others by fear or threat.

Character assassination

Character assassination is an attempt to tarnish a person's reputation. It may involve exaggeration or manipulation of facts to present an untrue picture of the targeted person. It is a form of defamation and can be a form of ad hominem argument.

Child abuse

Child abuse is the physical or psychological/emotional mistreatment of children. In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) define child maltreatment as any act or series of acts of commission or omission by a parent or other caregiver that results in harm, potential for harm, or threat of harm to a child.[7] Most child abuse occurs in a child's home, with a smaller amount occurring in the organizations, schools or communities the child interacts with. There are four major categories of child abuse: neglect, physical abuse, psychological/emotional abuse, and sexual abuse.

Child-on-child sexual abuse

Child-on-child sexual abuse refers to a form of child sexual abuse in which a prepubescent child is sexually abused by one or more other children or adolescent youths, and in which no adult is directly involved. The term describes sexual activity between children that occurs without consent, without equality, or as a result of coercion.[8] This includes when one of the children uses physical force, threats, trickery or emotional manipulation to elicit cooperation.

Child sexual abuse

Child sexual abuse is a form of child abuse in which an adult or older adolescent abuses a child for sexual stimulation.[9][10] Forms of CSA include asking or pressuring a child to engage in sexual activities (regardless of the outcome), indecent exposure of the genitals to a child, displaying pornography to a child, actual sexual contact against a child, physical contact with the child's genitals, viewing of the child's genitalia without physical contact, or using a child to produce child pornography.[9][11][12]

Church abuse

See: Abuse#Spiritual abuse

Clandestine abuse

Clandestine abuse is sexual, psychological, or physical abuse "that is kept secret for a purpose, concealed, or underhanded."[13]

Clerical abuse

See: Catholic sex abuse cases

Corporate abuse


Corruption can be defined as the misuse of public office for private gain. This involves putting personal interests above those of the people and ideals he or she is pledged to serve. It comes in many forms, is often subjective and can range in severity. Corruption can involve promises, threats or both.

Cyber abuse or cyber bullying

Cyberbullying "involves the use of information and communication technologies to support deliberate, repeated, and hostile behavior by an individual or group, that is intended to harm others. -Bill Belsey"[14]

Dating abuse or dating violence

Dating abuse is a pattern of abusive behavior exhibited by one or both partners in a dating relationship. The behavior may include, but is not limited to, physical abuse, psychological abuse and sexual abuse.


Defamation is the communication of a statement that makes a claim, expressly stated or implied to be factual, that may give an individual, business, product, group, government or nation a negative image. It is usually, but not always,[15] a requirement that this claim be false and that the publication is communicated to someone other than the person defamed (the claimant).

Detainee abuse

See: Abuse#Prison abuse or prisoner abuse

Disability abuse

Further reading

  • Baumhoefner, Arlen Financial Abuse of the Deaf And Hard of Hearing Exposed (2006)
  • Fitzsimons, Nancy M. & Sobsey, Dick Combating Violence & Abuse of People With Disabilities: A Call to Action (2009)

Discriminatory abuse

Discriminatory abuse involves picking on or treating someone unfairly because something about them is different, for example it may be:

Discriminatory laws such as redlining have existed in many countries. In some countries, controversial attempts such as racial quotas have been used to redress negative effects of discrimination.

Other acts of discrimination include political libel, defamation of groups and stereotypes based on exaggerations.

Domestic abuse or domestic violence

Domestic abuse can be broadly defined as a pattern of abusive behaviors by one or both partners in an intimate relationship such as marriage, dating, family, friends or cohabitation. Domestic violence has many forms including:

  • Physical aggression (hitting, kicking, biting, shoving, restraining, throwing objects), or threats thereof;
  • Sexual abuse;
  • Emotional abuse;
  • Financial abuse (withholding money or controlling all money including that of other family members);
  • Social abuse (restricting access to friends and/or family, insulting or threatening friends and/or family), controlling or domineering;
  • Intimidation;
  • Stalking;
  • Passive/covert abuse[16][17] (e.g., neglect);
  • economic deprivation.

Domestic violence may or may not constitute a crime, depending on local statues, severity and duration of specific acts, and other variables. Alcohol consumption[18] and mental illness[19] have frequently been associated with abuse.

Economic abuse

Economic abuse is when the abuser has control over the victim's money and other economic resources. In its extreme (and usual) form, this involves putting the victim on a strict "allowance", withholding money at will and forcing the victim to beg for the money until the abuser gives them some money. It is common for the victim to receive less money as the abuse continues. This also includes (but is not limited to) preventing the victim from finishing education or obtaining employment, or intentionally squandering or misusing communal resources.[20]

Elder abuse

Elder abuse is a general term used to describe certain types of harm to older adults. One of the more commonly accepted definitions of elder abuse is "a single, or repeated act, or lack of appropriate action, occurring within any relationship where there is an expectation of trust which causes harm or distress to an older person."[21] This definition has been adopted by the World Health Organization from a definition put forward by Action on Elder Abuse in the UK.

Emotional abuse

See: Abuse#Psychological abuse

Employee abuse

See: Abuse#Workplace abuse or workplace bullying

False accusations

False accusations (or false allegations) can be in any of the following contexts:

  • informally in everyday life
  • quasi-judicially
  • judicially.

Financial abuse

Financial abuse is, for example, illegal or unauthorized use of a person’s property, money, pension book or other valuables (including changing the person's will to name the abuser as heir), often fraudulently obtaining power of attorney, followed by deprivation of money or other property, or by eviction from own home.

Further reading

  • Baumhoefner, Arlen Financial Abuse of the Deaf And Hard of Hearing Exposed (2006)
  • Bechthold, Henry L. Blowing the Whistle on the Christian Church in America: The Political Hypocrisy, Double Standards and Financial Abuse Exposed (2003)
  • Carnot, Edward J. Is Your Parent in Good Hands?: Protecting Your Aging Parent from Financial Abuse and Neglect (Capital Cares) (2003)
  • Roubicek, Joe FINANCIAL ABUSE OF THE ELDERLY; A Detective's Case Files Of Exploitation Crimes (2008)

Flag abuse

Flag abuse (or flag desecration) is a term applied to various acts that intentionally destroy, damage or mutilate a flag in public, most often a national flag. Often, such action is intended to make a political point against a country or its policies. Some countries have laws forbidding methods of destruction (such as burning in public) or forbidding particular uses (such as for commercial purposes); such laws may distinguish between desecration of the country's own national flag and flags of other countries. Some countries have laws protecting the right to burn a flag as free speech.

Gaming the system

Gaming the system (or bending the rules, playing the system or abusing the system) can be defined as "[using] the rules and procedures meant to protect a system in order, instead, to manipulate the system for [a] desired outcome".[22]


Gaslighting is a form of psychological abuse in which false information is presented to the victim with the intent of making them doubt their own memory and perception. It may simply be the denial by an abuser that previous abusive incidents ever occurred, or it could be the staging of bizarre events by the abuser with the intention of disorientating the victim.

Gay abuse or gay bashing

Gay bashing is an expression used to designate verbal confrontation with, denigration of, or physical violence against people thought to be lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgendered (LGBT) because of their apparent sexual orientation or gender identity.

Group psychological abuse

Group psychological abuse refers to groups where methods of psychological abuse are frequently or systematically used on their members. Such abuse would be practices that treat the members as objects one is free to manipulate instead of respecting their autonomy, human rights, identity and dignity. In a group can also play mind games with another person that can make the victim seem like they are accepted but in actuality they are backstabbing the person when his/her back is turned. When the victim requests assistance from the abusing group it is not given.


Harassment covers a wide range of offensive behaviour. It is commonly understood as behaviour intended to disturb or upset. In the legal sense, it is behaviour which is found threatening or disturbing.

Power harassment is harassment or unwelcome attention of a political nature, often occurring in the environment of a workplace.

Sexual harassment refers to persistent and unwanted sexual advances, typically in the workplace, where the consequences of refusing are potentially very disadvantageous to the victim.

Hate crimes

Hate crimes occur when a perpetrator targets a victim because of his or her perceived membership in a certain social group, usually defined by racial group, religion, sexual orientation, disability, ethnicity, nationality, age, gender, gender identity, or political affiliation.[23]

"Hate crime" generally refers to criminal acts which are seen to have been motivated by hatred of one or more of the listed conditions. Incidents may involve physical assault, damage to property, bullying, harassment, verbal abuse or insults, or offensive graffiti or letters (hate mail).[24]


Hazing is a term used to describe various ritual and other activities involving harassment, abuse or humiliation used as a way of initiating a person into a group.

Hazing is seen in many different types of groups, including in gangs, clubs, sports teams, military units, and workplaces. In the United States and Canada, hazing is often associated with Greek-letter organizations (fraternities and sororities). Hazing is often prohibited by law and may be either physical (possibly violent) or mental (possibly degrading) practices. It may also include nudity or sexually oriented activities.

Human rights abuse

Human rights are "basic rights and freedoms to which all humans are entitled."[25] Examples of rights and freedoms which have come to be commonly thought of as human rights include civil and political rights, such as the right to life and liberty, freedom of expression, and equality before the law; and economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to participate in culture, the right to be treated with respect and dignity, the right to food, the right to work, and the right to education in some countries.


Humiliation is the abasement of pride, which creates mortification or leads to a state of being humbled or reduced to lowliness or submission. It can be brought about through bullying, intimidation, physical or mental mistreatment or trickery, or by embarrassment if a person is revealed to have committed a socially or legally unacceptable act.


Incivility is a general term for social behaviour lacking in civility or good manners, on a scale from rudeness or lack of respect for elders, to vandalism and hooliganism, through public drunkenness and threatening behaviour.[26]

Institutional abuse

Institutional abuse can typically occur in a care home, nursing home, acute hospital or in-patient setting and can be any of the following:[27]

Further reading

  • Barter, Christine Investigating Institutional Abuse of Children (Policy, Practice, Research) (1998)
  • Beker, Jerome Institutional Abuse of Children and Youth (Child & Youth Services) (1982)
  • Manthorpe J, Penhale B, Stanley N Institutional Abuse: Perspectives Across the Life Course (1999)
  • Westcott, Helen L. Institutional Abuse of Children - From Research to Policy: A Review (Policy, Practice, Research S.) (1991)


An insult is an expression, statement (or sometimes behavior) which is considered degrading and offensive.


Intimidation is intentional behavior "which would cause a person of ordinary sensibilities" fear of injury or harm. It's not necessary to prove that the behavior was so violent as to cause terror or that the victim was actually frightened.[28] "The calculated use of violence or the threat of violence to attain goals political, religious, or ideological in nature...through intimidation, coercion, or instilling fear" can be defined as terrorism.[29]

Legal abuse

Legal abuse refers to abuses associated with both civil and criminal legal action. Abuse can originate from nearly any part of the legal system, including frivolous and vexatious litigants, abuses by law enforcement, incompetent, careless or corrupt attorneys and misconduct from the judiciary itself.[30][31]

Legal abuse is responsible not only for injustice, but also harm to physical, psychological and societal health.*[32]


See: Abuse#Negligence

Market abuse

Market abuse may arise in circumstances where financial investors have been unreasonably disadvantaged, directly or indirectly, by others who:[33]

  • have used information which is not publicly available (insider dealing)
  • have distorted the price-setting mechanism of financial instruments
  • have disseminated false or misleading information.

Medical abuse

See: Abuse#Patient abuse, Aggression in healthcare, Bullying in medicine and Bullying in nursing

Mental abuse

See: Abuse#Psychological abuse

Military abuse

War crimes are "violations of the laws or customs of war"; including "murder, the ill-treatment or deportation of civilian residents of an occupied territory to slave labor camps", "the murder or ill-treatment of prisoners of war", the killing of hostages, "the wanton destruction of cities, towns and villages, and any devastation not justified by military, or civilian necessity".[34]

War rape is rape committed by soldiers, other combatants or civilians during armed conflict or war. During war and armed conflict rape is frequently used as means of psychological warfare in order to humiliate the enemy and undermine their morale.

Military sexual trauma describes sexual assault and rape experienced by military personnel. It is often accompanied by posttraumatic stress disorder.[35]

Mind abuse or mind control

Mind abuse or mind control refers to a process in which a group or individual "systematically uses unethically manipulative methods to persuade others to conform to the wishes of the manipulator(s), often to the detriment of the person being manipulated".[36] The term has been applied to any tactic, psychological or otherwise, which can be seen as subverting an individual's sense of control over their own thinking, behavior, emotions or decision making.


Misconduct means a wrongful, improper, or unlawful conduct motivated by premeditated or intentional purpose or by obstinate indifference to the consequences of one's acts. Three categories of misconduct are official misconduct, professional misconduct and sexual misconduct.


Mobbing either means bullying of an individual by a group in any context or specifically any workplace bullying. UK anti-bully pioneers Andrea Adams and Tim Field used the expression workplace bullying instead of what Heinz Leymann called "mobbing" although workplace bullying nearly always involves mobbing in its other meaning of group bullying.

Narcissistic abuse

Narcissistic abuse is a term that emerged in the late twentieth century, and became more prominent in the noughties. It originally referred specifically to abuse by narcissistic parents of their children, but more recently has come to mean any abuse by a narcissist.


Neglect is a passive form of abuse in which the perpetrator is responsible to provide care for a victim who is unable to care for oneself, but fails to provide adequate care to meet the victim's needs, thereby resulting in the victim's demise.

Neglect may include failing to provide sufficient supervision, nourishment, medical care or other needs for which the victim is helpless to provide for him/her/itself. The victim may be a child, physically or mentally disabled adult, animal, plant, or inanimate object.


Negligence is conduct that is culpable because it falls short of what a reasonable person would do to protect another individual from foreseeable risks of harm.

Online abuse

See: Abuse#Cyber abuse or cyber bullying

Parental abuse or parent-child abuse

See: Abuse#Child abuse

Parental abuse by children

Abuse of parents by their children is a common but under reported and under researched subject. Parents are quite often subject to levels of childhood aggression, typically in the form of verbal or physical abuse, in excess of normal childhood aggressive outbursts. Parents feel a sense of shame and humiliation to have that problem so they rarely seek help and there is usually little or no help available anyway.[37][38]

Passive–aggressive behavior

Passive–aggressive behavior is a form of covert abuse. It is passive, sometimes obstructionist resistance to following through with expectations in interpersonal or occupational situations. It can manifest itself as learned helplessness, procrastination, stubbornness, resentment, sullenness, or deliberate/repeated failure to accomplish requested tasks for which one is (often explicitly) responsible.

Patient abuse

Patient abuse or neglect is any action or failure to act which causes unreasonable suffering, misery or harm to the patient. It includes physically striking or sexually assaulting a patient. It also includes withholding of necessary food, physical care, and medical attention. It applies to various contexts such as hospitals, nursing homes, clinics and home visits.[39]

Peer abuse

"Peer abuse" is an expression popularized by Elizabeth Bennett in 2006 to reinforce the idea that it is as valid to identify bullying as a form of abuse as any other type of abuse.[40] The term conveys similar connotations to the term peer victimization.


Persecution is the systematic mistreatment of an individual or group by another group. The most common forms are religious persecution, ethnic persecution, and political persecution, though there is naturally some overlap between these terms.

Personal abuse or personal attacks

See: Abuse#Ad hominem abuse

Physical abuse

Physical abuse is abuse involving contact intended to cause feelings of intimidation, pain, injury, or other physical suffering or bodily harm.

Police abuse

Police brutality is the intentional use of excessive force, usually physical, but potentially also in the form of verbal attacks and psychological intimidation, by a police officer. It is in some instances triggered by "contempt of cop", i.e., perceived disrespect towards police officers.

Police corruption is a specific form of police misconduct designed to obtain financial benefits and/or career advancement for a police officer or officers in exchange for not pursuing, or selectively pursuing, an investigation or arrest.

Police misconduct refers to inappropriate actions taken by police officers in connection with their official duties. Police misconduct can lead to a miscarriage of justice and sometimes involves discrimination.

Political abuse

Further reading

  • Behera, Navnita Chadha Perpetuating the divide: Political abuse of history in South Asia journal Contemporary South Asia, Volume 5, Issue 2 July 1996, Pages 191-205
  • Birley, J. Political abuse of psychiatry Psychiatry, Volume 3, Issue 3, Pages 22–25
  • Bonnie, Richard J. Political Abuse of Psychiatry in the Soviet Union and in China: Complexities and Controversies J Am Acad Psychiatry Law 30:136–44, 2002 http://www.jaapl.org/cgi/reprint/30/1/136.pdf
  • Zwi, AB. The political abuse of medicine and the challenge of opposing it. Soc Sci Med. 1987;25(6):649-57.


A prejudice is a preconceived belief, opinion, or judgment toward a group of people or a single person because of race, social class, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, age, disability, political beliefs, religion, line of work or other personal characteristics. It also means a priori beliefs (without knowledge of the facts) and includes "any unreasonable attitude that is unusually resistant to rational influence."[41] Although positive and negative prejudice both exist, when used negatively, "prejudice" implies fear and antipathy toward such a group or person.

Prison abuse or prisoner abuse

Prisoner abuse is the mistreatment of persons while they are under arrest or incarcerated. Abuse falling into this category includes:

Professional abuse

Professional abusers:[42]

  • take advantage of their client or patient's trust
  • exploit their vulnerability
  • do not act in their best interests
  • fail to keep professional boundaries

Abuse may be:

Professional abuse always involves:

  • betrayal of trust
  • exploitation of vulnerability
  • violation of professional boundaries

Further reading

  • Dorpat, Theodore L. Gaslighting, the Double Whammy, Interrogation and Other Methods of Covert Control in Psychotherapy and Analysis (1996)
  • Penfold, P. Susan Sexual Abuse by Health Professionals: A Personal Search for Meaning and Healing (1998)

Psychological abuse

Psychological abuse, also referred to as emotional abuse or mental abuse, is a form of abuse characterized by a person subjecting or exposing another to behavior that is psychologically harmful. Such abuse is often associated with situations of power imbalance, such as abusive relationships, bullying, child abuse and in the workplace.

Racial abuse

Racism is abusive attitudes or treatment of others based on the belief that race is a primary determinant of human traits and capacities. It is a form of pride that one's own race is superior and, as a result, has a right to "rule or dominate others," according to a Macquarie Dictionary definition. Racism is correlated with and can foster race-based prejudice, violence, dislike, discrimination, and oppression.

Racism along with extreme nationalism and ethnic bias was a common trait of fascist regimes such as Nazi Germany in the 1930s and early 1940s, led by Adolf Hitler who orchestrated the Holocaust against 6 million Jews. The Nazi party promoted racism and antisemitism to blamed German Jews and Jews for Germany's economic, social and political woes, including Germany's surrender to the allies by the Treaty of Versailles ended World War I (1918). Hitler thought Jewish intellectuals, communists and capitalists alike, were responsible and he started World War II in 1939 but he fell into defeat in 1945 by the Soviets (Russia) and the same countries (Britain, France and the USA) whom defeated Germany before.


Ragging is a form of abuse on newcomers to educational institutions in India, Sri Lanka, and Australia. It is similar to the American phenomenon known as hazing. Currently, Sri Lanka is said to be its worst affected country in the world.[43][44]


Rape, also referred to as sexual assault, is an assault by a person involving sexual intercourse with or without sexual penetration of another person without that person's consent.

The rate of reporting, prosecution and convictions for rape varies considerably in different jurisdictions. The U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics (1999) estimated that 91% of U.S. rape victims are female and 9% are male, with 99% of the offenders being male.[45] In one survey of women, only two percent of respondents who stated they were sexually assaulted said that the assault was perpetrated by a stranger.[46] For men, male-male rape in prisons has been a significant problem.[47]

Relational aggression

Relational aggression, also known as covert aggression[48] or covert bullying[49] is a type of aggression in which harm is caused through damage to relationships or social status within a group rather than physical violence.[49][50] Relational aggression is more common and more studied among girls than boys.[50]

Religious abuse

Religious abuse refers to

Resident abuse

See: Resident abuse


Rudeness (also called impudence or effrontery) is the disrespect and failure to behave within the context of a society or a group of people's social laws or etiquette.

School bullying

School bullying, is a type of bullying that occurs in connection with education, either inside or outside of school. Bullying can be physical, verbal, or emotional and is usually repeated over a period of time.[52][53]


Self-destructive behaviour is a widely used phrase describing a broad set of extreme actions and emotions including self-harm and drug abuse. It can take a variety of forms, and be undertaken for a variety of reasons. It is most visible in young adults and adolescents, but it may affect people of any age.

Sexual abuse

Sexual abuse is the forcing of undesired sexual behavior by one person upon another, when that force falls short of being a sexual assault. The offender is referred to as a sexual abuser or (often pejoratively) molester.[54] The term also covers any behavior by any adult towards a child to stimulate either the adult or child sexually. When the victim is younger than the age of consent, it is referred to as child sexual abuse.

Sexual bullying

Sexual bullying is "any bullying behaviour, whether physical or non-physical, that is based on a person’s sexuality or gender. It is when sexuality or gender is used as a weapon by boys or girls towards other boys or girls - although it is more commonly directed at girls. It can be carried out to a person’s face, behind their back or through the use of technology."[55]

Sibling abuse

Sibling abuse is the physical, emotional, and/or sexual abuse of one sibling by another.

It is estimated[56] that as many as 3% of children are dangerously abusive towards a sibling, making sibling abuse more common than child abuse by parents, and more common than spousal abuse.

Smear campaign

A "smear campaign", "smear tactic" or simply "smear" is a metaphor for activity that can harm an individual or group's reputation by conflation with a stigmatized group. Sometimes smear is used more generally to include any reputation-damaging activity, including such colloquialisms as mud slinging.

Societal abuse

See: Abuse#Structural abuse

Spiritual abuse

Spiritual abuse occurs when a person in religious authority or a person with a unique spiritual practice misleads and maltreats another person in the name of God or church or in the mystery of any spiritual concept. Spiritual abuse often refers to an abuser using spiritual or religious rank in taking advantage of the victim's spirituality (mentality and passion on spiritual matters) by putting the victim in a state of unquestioning obedience to an abusive authority.

Spousal abuse

See: Abuse#Domestic abuse or domestic violence


Stalking describes unwanted attention by individuals (and sometimes groups of people) to others. Stalking behaviors are related to harassment and intimidation. The word "stalking" is used, with some differing meanings, in psychology and psychiatry and also in some legal jurisdictions as a term for a criminal offence. It may also be used to refer to criminal offences or civil wrongs that include conduct which some people consider to be stalking, such as those described in law as "harassment" or similar terms.

Structural abuse

Structural abuse is sexual, emotional or physical abuse that is imposed on an individual or group by a social or cultural system or authority. Structural abuse is indirect, and exploits the victim on an emotional, mental and psychological level. It could manifest itself through any situation within a cultural or social framework.

Surveillance abuse

Surveillance abuse is the use of surveillance methods or technology to monitor the activity of an individual or group of individuals in a way which violates the social norms or laws of a society. Mass surveillance by the state may constitute surveillance abuse if not appropriately regulated. Surveillance abuse often falls outside the scope of lawful interception. It is illegal because it violates peoples' right to privacy.


A taunt is a battle cry, a method in hand-to-hand combat, sarcastic remark, or insult intended to demoralize the recipient, or to anger them and encourage reactionary behaviors without thinking.[citation needed] Taunting can exist as a form of social competition to gain control of the target's cultural capital (i.e. status).[citation needed] In sociological theory, the control of the three social capitals is used to produce an advantage in the social hierarchy as to enforce one's own position in relation to others. Taunting is committed by either directly bullying, or indirectly encouraging others to bully the target. It is also possible to give a response of the same kind, to ensure one's own status. It can be compared to fighting words and trash-talk.

Teacher abuse

See: Teacher abuse


Teasing is a word with many meanings. In human interactions, teasing comes in two major forms, playful and hurtful. In mild cases, and especially when it is reciprocal, teasing can be viewed as playful and friendly. However, teasing is often unwelcome and then it takes the form of harassment. In extreme cases, teasing may escalate to actual violence, and may even result in abuse, potentially meeting the legal definition of child abuse or even murder. Children are commonly teased on such matters as their appearance, weight, behavior, abilities, and clothing.[57] This kind of teasing is often hurtful, even when the teaser believes he or she is being playful. One may also tease an animal. Some animals, such as dogs and cats, may recognize this as play, but as in humans, teasing can become hurtful and take the form of bullying and abuse.

Telephone abuse

See: Telephone abuse


Terrorism is the systematic use of terror especially as a means of coercion.[58] At present, there is no internationally agreed definition of terrorism.[59][60] Common definitions of terrorism refer only to those violent acts which are intended to create fear (terror), are perpetrated for an ideological goal (as opposed to a lone attack), and deliberately target or disregard the safety of non-combatants (civilians). it is sometimes sponsored dy state policies...when a country is not able to militarily prove itself to another enemy country.


Torture is any act by which severe pain, whether physical or psychological, is intentionally inflicted.

Umpire abuse

Umpire abuse refers to the act of abuse towards a umpire, referee, or other official in sport. The abuse can be verbal abuse (such as namecalling), or physical abuse (such as punching).

Verbal abuse or verbal attacks

Verbal abuse is a form of abusive behavior involving the use of language. It is a form of profanity that can occur with or without the use of expletives. Whilst oral communication is the most common form of verbal abuse, it includes abusive words in written form.

Verbal abuse is a pattern of behavior that can seriously interfere with one's positive emotional development and can lead to significant detriment to one's self-esteem, emotional well-being, and physical state. It has been further described as an ongoing emotional environment organized by the abuser for the purposes of control.

Whispering campaign

A whispering campaign is a method of persuasion in which damaging rumors or innuendo are spread about the target, while the source of the rumors seeks to avoid being detected while spreading them (for example, a political campaign might distribute anonymous flyers attacking the other candidate).

Workplace abuse or workplace bullying

Workplace bullying, like childhood bullying is the tendency of individuals or groups to use persistent aggressive or unreasonable behavior against a co-worker. Workplace bullying can include such tactics as verbal, nonverbal, psychological, physical abuse and humiliation. This type of aggression is particularly difficult because unlike the typical forms of school bullying, workplace bullies often operate within the established rules and policies of their organization and their society. Bullying in the workplace is in the majority of cases reported as having been perpetrated by a manager and takes a wide variety of forms.

Characteristics and styles of abuse

Some important characteristics and styles of abuse are:[61]

Telltale signs of abuse

Telltale signs may include:[62]

  1. isolation
  2. irrational jealousy
  3. subtle presence of physical violence
  4. discounting, minimizing, and trivializing
  5. criticizing
  6. withholding
  7. blaming.

Psychological characteristics of abusers

In their review of data from the Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Study (a longitudinal birth cohort study; n = 941) Moffitt et al.[63] report that while men exhibit more aggression overall, gender is not a reliable predictor of interpersonal aggression, including psychological aggression. The study found that whether male or female, aggressive people share a cluster of traits, including high rates of suspicion and jealousy; sudden and drastic mood swings; poor self-control; and higher than average rates of approval of violence and aggression (in American society, females are, on average, approved[clarification needed] of violence against males). Moffitt et al. also argue that antisocial men exhibit two distinct types of interpersonal aggression (one against strangers, the other against intimate female partners), while antisocial women are rarely aggressive against anyone other than intimate male partners.

Male and female perpetrators of emotional and physical abuse exhibit high rates of personality disorders.[64][65][66] Rates of personality disorder in the general population are roughly 15%-20%, while roughly 80% of abusive men in court-ordered treatment programmes have personality disorders.[67] There are no similar statistics on female perpetrators of family violence due to bias[citation needed] in the data gathering procedure. The only statistics available are the reports on child maltreatment,[68] which show that mothers use physical discipline on children more often than fathers, while severe injury and sexual abuse are more often perpetrated by men.[69]

Abusers may aim to avoid household chores or exercise total control of family finances. Abusers can be very manipulative, often recruiting friends, law officers and court officials, even the victim's family to their side, while shifting blame to the victim.[70][71]

Effects of abuse on victims

English et al.[72] report that children whose families are characterized by interpersonal violence, including psychological aggression and verbal aggression, may exhibit a range of serious disorders, including chronic depression, anxiety, posttraumatic stress disorder, dissociation and anger. Additionally, English et al. report that the impact of emotional abuse "did not differ significantly" from that of physical abuse. Johnson et al.[73] report that, in a survey of female patients (n = 825), 24% suffered emotional abuse, and this group experienced higher rates of gynecological problems. In their study of men emotionally abused by a wife/partner (n = 116), Hines and Malley-Morrison[74] report that victims exhibit high rates of post traumatic stress disorder and alcoholism.

Namie's study[75] of workplace bullying found that 31% of women and 21% of men who reported workplace bullying exhibited three key symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (hypervigilance, intrusive imagery, and avoidance behaviors). A 1998 study of male college students (n = 70) by Simonelli & Ingram[76] found that men who were emotionally abused by their female partners exhibited higher rates of chronic depression than the general population.

A study of college students (n = 80) by Goldsmith and Freyd[77] report that many who have experienced emotional abuse do not characterize the mistreatment as abusive. Additionally, Goldsmith and Freyd show that these people also tend to exhibit higher than average rates of alexithymia (difficulty identifying and processing their own emotions).

Jacobson et al.[78] found that women report markedly higher rates of fear during marital conflicts. However, a rejoinder[79] argued that Jacobson's results were invalid due to men and women's drastically differing interpretations of questionnaires. Coker et al.[80] found that the effects of mental abuse were similar whether the victim was male or female. Pimlott-Kubiak and Cortina[81] found that severity and duration of abuse were the only accurate predictors of aftereffects of abuse; sex of perpetrator or victim were not reliable predictors.

Analysis of large survey (n = 25,876) by LaRoche[82] found that women abused by men were slightly more likely to seek psychological help than were men abused by women (63% vs. 62%).

In a 2007 study, Laurent, et al.,[83] report that psychological aggression in young couples (n = 47) is associated with decreased satisfaction for both partners: "psychological aggression may serve as an impediment to couples development because it reflects less mature coercive tactics and an inability to balance self/other needs effectively." A 2008 study by Walsh and Shulman[84] reports that psychological aggression by females is more likely to be associated with relationship dissatisfaction for both partners, while withdrawal by men is more likely to be associated with relationship dissatisfaction for both partners.

Victim blaming

Victim blaming is holding the victims of a crime, an accident, or any type of abusive maltreatment to be entirely or partially responsible for the unfortunate incident that has occurred in their lives.

Cycles of abuse

Intergenerational transmission of abuse

Abuse cases


See also


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  2. ^ http://answers.encyclopedia.com/question/definition-abuse-discretion-344834.html
  3. ^ Fuller, Robert. "Rankism: A Social Disorder". http://www.breakingranks.net/weblog/rankism. Retrieved 2008-09-16. 
  4. ^ Berger, Kathleen Stassen (2003). The Developing Person Through Childhood and Adolescence, 6th edition (3rd publishing). Worth Publishers. p. 302. ISBN 0-7167-5257-3. 
  5. ^ (U.S. Dept. of Justice, Fact Sheet #FS-200127)
  6. ^ Harassment, Discrimination and Bullying Policy - University of Manchester
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  8. ^ Jon A. Shaw et al. (September, 2004). "Child on child sexual abuse: psychological perspectives," Child Abuse & Neglect Volume 24, Issue 12, December 2000, Pages 1591-1600.
  9. ^ a b "Child Sexual Abuse". Medline Plus. U.S. National Library of Medicine,. 2008-04-02. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/childsexualabuse.html. 
  10. ^ Committee on Professional Practice and Standards (COPPS), Board of Professional Affairs (BPA), American Psychological Association (APA); Catherine Acuff, Ph.D.; Steven Bisbing, Ph.D.; Michael Gottlieb, Ph.D.; Lisa Grossman, Ph.D.; Jody Porter, Ph.D.; Richard Reichbart, Ph.D.; Steven Sparta, Ph.D.; and C. Eugene Walker, Ph.D (August 1999). "Guidelines for Psychological Evaluations in Child Protection Matters". American Psychologist 54 (8): 586–593. doi:10.1037/0003-066X.54.8.586. PMID 10453704. http://www.apa.org/practice/childprotection.html. Retrieved 2008-05-07. Lay summary – APA PsycNET (2008-05-07). "Abuse, sexual (child): generally defined as contacts between a child and an adult or other person significantly older or in a position of power or control over the child, where the child is being used for sexual stimulation of the adult or other person." 
  11. ^ Martin, J.; Anderson, J.; Romans, S.; Mullen, P; O'Shea, M (1993). "Asking about child sexual abuse: methodological implications of a two-stage survey". Child Abuse and Neglect 17 (3): 383–392. doi:10.1016/0145-2134(93)90061-9. PMID 8330225. 
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Further reading

  • Macpherson, Michael Colin The psychology of abuse (1985)

External links

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  • abuse — 1 /ə byüz/ vt abused, abus·ing 1: to put to a use other than the one intended: as a: to put to a bad or unfair use abusing the powers of office b: to put to improper or excessive use abuse narcotics …   Law dictionary

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  • abuse — noun. This has developed a sinister violent meaning, ‘maltreatment or (especially sexual) assault of a person’, and is now widely familiar in the specific context of child abuse, of which various aspects include physical abuse, domestic abuse,… …   Modern English usage

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