Domestic abuse is defined by the United States Department of Justice as a pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain power and control over another intimate partner. Domestic violence can be physical, sexual, emotional, economic, or psychological actions or threats of actions that influence another person. This includes any behaviors that intimidate, manipulate, humiliate, isolate, frighten, terrorize, coerce, threaten, blame, hurt, injure, or wound someone.
YOU HAVE BEEN ABUSED - if your partner repeatedly uses one or more of the following to control you:
- pushing, hitting, slapping, choking, kicking, or biting
- threatening you, your children, other family members or pets
- threatening suicide to get you to do something
- using or threatening to use a weapon against you
- keeping or taking your paycheck
- puts you down or makes you feel bad
- forcing you to have sex or to do sexual acts you do not want or like
- keeping you from seeing your friends, family or from going to work
Definitions for child abuse and maltreatment vary across jurisdictions. In general, child maltreatment includes physical, sexual, or emotional abuse, in addition to neglect (where neglect refers to the failure of a parent to provide for a child's development when in a financial position to do so). Federal law defines child abuse and neglect as any recent act, or failure to act, on the part of a parent or caretaker that results in death, serious physical or emotional harm, sexual abuse or exploitation, or an act or failure to act that presents an imminent risk of serious harm to a child. For more information, visit the National Institute of Justice or refer to Help Guide concerning child abuse and malnutrition.
Warning signs of emotional abuse in children:
- Excessively withdrawn, fearful, or anxious about doing something wrong.
- Shows extremes in behavior (extremely compliant or extremely demanding; extremely passive or extremely aggressive).
- Doesn’t seem to be attached to the parent or caregiver.
- Acts either inappropriately adult (taking care of other children) or inappropriately infantile (rocking, thumb-sucking, throwing tantrums).
Warning signs of physical abuse in children:
- Frequent injuries or unexplained bruises, welts, or cuts.
- Is always watchful and “on alert,” as if waiting for something bad to happen.
- Injuries appear to have a pattern such as marks from a hand or belt.
- Shies away from touch, flinches at sudden movements, or seems afraid to go home.
- Wears inappropriate clothing to cover up injuries, such as long-sleeved shirts on hot days.
Warning signs of neglect in children:
- Clothes are ill-fitting, filthy, or inappropriate for the weather.
- Hygiene is consistently bad (unbathed, matted and unwashed hair, noticeable body odor).
- Untreated illnesses and physical injuries.
- Is frequently unsupervised or left alone or allowed to play in unsafe situations and environments.
- Is frequently late or missing from school.
Warning signs of sexual abuse in children:
- Trouble walking or sitting.
- Displays knowledge or interest in sexual acts inappropriate to his or her age, or even seductive behavior.
- Makes strong efforts to avoid a specific person, without an obvious reason.
- Doesn’t want to change clothes in front of others or participate in physical activities.
- An STD or pregnancy, especially under the age of 14.
- Runs away from home.
Elder abuse is any abuse and neglect of persons age 60 and older by a caregiver or another person in a relationship involving an expectation of trust. Forms of elder abuse include:
- Physical Abuse occurs when an elder is injured (e.g., scratched, bitten, slapped, pushed, hit, burned, etc.), assaulted or threatened with a weapon (e.g., knife, gun, or other object), or inappropriately restrained.
- Sexual Abuse or Abusive Sexual Contact is any sexual contact against an elder’s will. This includes acts in which the elder is unable to understand the act or is unable to communicate. Abusive sexual contact is defined as intentional touching (either directly or through the clothing), of the genitalia, anus, groin, breast, mouth, inner thigh, or buttocks.
- Psychological or Emotional Abuse occurs when an elder experiences trauma after exposure to threatening acts or coercive tactics. Examples include humiliation or embarrassment; controlling behavior (e.g., prohibiting or limiting access to transportation, telephone, money or other resources); social isolation; disregarding or trivializing needs; or damaging or destroying property.
- Neglect is the failure or refusal of a caregiver or other responsible person to provide for an elder’s basic physical, emotional, or social needs, or failure to protect them from harm. Examples include not providing adequate nutrition, hygiene, clothing, shelter, or access to necessary health care; or failure to prevent exposure to unsafe activities and environments.
- Abandonment is the willful desertion of an elderly person by caregiver or other responsible person.
- Financial Abuse or Exploitation is the unauthorized or improper use of the resources of an elder for monetary or personal benefit, profit, or gain. Examples include forgery, misuse or theft of money or possessions; use of coercion or deception to surrender finances or property; or improper use of guardianship or power of attorney.