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Understand and Learn


Abuse is complex and multifaceted involving the misuse of power and control to harm another individual physically, emotionally, psychologically, or sexually. It can occur in various relationships and settings, and its effects can be profound and long-lasting. Understanding abuse involves recognizing its different forms, exploring the motivations behind abusive behavior, and acknowledging the impact it has on victims.


Why People Abuse: Understanding why individuals engage in abusive behavior is complex and may vary depending on the context. Some common factors include:

Power and Control: Abusers often seek to establish and maintain control over their victims, using various tactics to manipulate and dominate them.

Cycle of Violence: Some individuals may have grown up in environments where abuse was normalized, perpetuating a cycle of violence that they repeat in their own relationships.

Low Self-Esteem: Abusers may have low self-esteem and use control over others as a way to compensate for their own feelings of inadequacy.

Unresolved Trauma: People who have experienced trauma in their own lives may be more likely to engage in abusive behavior as a way of coping with their unresolved issues.

Social and Cultural Factors: Societal norms, cultural beliefs, and gender expectations can contribute to an environment that tolerates or even condones abusive behavior.


Physical Abuse: Involves the use of force that causes bodily harm or injury. This can include hitting, slapping, kicking, or any form of physical aggression.

Emotional or Psychological Abuse: Consists of behaviors that inflict emotional pain, undermine self-worth, and control the victim's emotions. Examples include constant criticism, humiliation, intimidation, and manipulation.

Sexual Abuse: Involves any non-consensual sexual activity or coercion. This can range from unwanted touching to rape and encompasses various forms of sexual exploitation.

Financial Abuse: Occurs when an abuser controls or exploits the victim's financial resources, restricting their access to money or using it as a means of manipulation and control.

Verbal Abuse: Involves the use of words to demean, insult, or degrade another person. This can include name-calling, yelling, and using language that is intended to belittle the victim.

Neglect: In the context of relationships or caregiving, neglect occurs when a person fails to provide necessary care and support, leading to physical or emotional harm.


Whatever tactics are used, abuse affects your health and well-being. It can cause serious psychological and emotional harm, including heightened levels of fear, anxiety, and depression. You may find it hard to make decisions or to believe anything will change. If you have children, abusive experiences may make you respond in ways you wouldn’t normally to your children and may hinder effective parenting.

It is not uncommon for individuals experiencing abuse to deny the reality of their situation to friends, family, and even themselves. Feelings of self-blame or responsibility for the abuse may emerge, fostering a belief that one provoked the attacks.

It is crucial to recognize that such emotions are deliberately induced by the abuser, aiming to establish control. Regardless of the circumstances, it is essential to understand that the abuser is the sole instigator of the abuse, absolving you of any culpability.

No matter what you do, the abuser is the one who chose to abuse you. It is not your fault.

You are not alone. You don’t need to think about everything at once. A good first step is to get information. Give us a call or contact another agency in your area if you are living with these issues and would like support.

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Bethesda House welcomes and encourages applications from, and provides equal student opportunities to, male and female students, Aboriginal peoples, persons with disabilities, and members of visible minorities. Accommodation will be provided for students with disabilities upon request and if at all possible. Bethesda House is an LGBTQ positive space.