What does abuse mean? It means “to misuse, to use improperly, to use up or to injure by maltreatment.” The effects of abuse can be devastating and long-lasting. Many people never recover from it. There are four basic types of abuse.

Sexual abuse: considered to be the most degrading and offensive; consists of rape, molestation, incest, exhibitionism, voyeurism and obscene phone calls.

Emotional abuse: consists of withholding attention, loving touches and words of acceptance. Love is only given based on acceptable performance. Abandonment is a type of emotional abuse and can occur when one or both parents leave the child physically or mentally. Adults can also experience abandonment if important people in their lives leave suddenly or violently.

Verbal abuse: can be overt or covert. Overt: aggressive, angry words that say you’re flawed or unacceptable. Covert: loving words of acceptance that help you develop properly are withheld.

Physical abuse: consists of beatings, unfair discipline, being locked in closets or dark rooms and withholding food.

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