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Physical and Emotional Abuse

·  “Who are you to feel jealous about me?”

·  “Men are all the same; women are all the same”

·  “Tell me now where you were and what were you doing with those people”.

·  “You aren’t capable of satisfying my sexual needs”

·  “You are a loser”

·  “You aren’t valuable as a woman”

The phrases shown at the beginning are some examples of what’s called emotional or psychological abuse.  According to the article, “Emotional abuse: definitions, signs, symptoms, examples.” (2016), emotional abuse sometimes is confused with physical abuse and it’s good to be informed so you can identify when the situation turns into an abusive act, contrast one towards the other and seek for help promptly if that’s the case (Tracy, 2016).  Researchers are still investigating about the correlation between the emotional with the physical part of an abusive act and about the prevalence of abusive acts in children and elders.

The classic definition of emotional abuse is: “Any act including confinement, isolation, verbal assault, humiliation, intimidation, infantilization, or any other treatment which may diminish the sense of identity, dignity, and self-worth.”. (Tracy, 2016)

Nowadays, emotional/ psychological abuse is correlated with “coercive control”. Basically, the concept now has passed through a transformation process.  According to the article: “What is coercive control?” (2015): “Coercive control is a term developed by Evan Stark to help us understand domestic abuse as more than a “fight”.  It is a pattern of behavior which seeks to take away the victim’s liberty or freedom, to strip away their sense of self. It is not just women’s bodily integrity which is violated but also their human rights.” (Scottish Women’s Aid, 2016) 

It’s good to emphasize that the effects of coercive control could be felt not just from men to women but also, from women to men.  Coercive control doesn’t strictly emphasize one sex above the other.  The Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence, (OPDV) made some statements about how this type of abuse can affect both members of the relationship. The OPDV (2016) published the following expressions:Social norms and unequal distribution of resources (income, education, employment political power, etc.) lead some individuals to feel entitled to control their partner.  In heterosexual relationships, the norms and inequality are largely, but not entirely, gender-related”.  

With the last sentence in mind, let’s get informed on how the LGBTQ community leads with abusive acts that evolve into coercive control.  The article: “Confronting coercive control in queer couples” (2016) mentions that society has dismissed the coercive control that occurs specifically in same sex couples and in relationships involving transgender partners. This “no see and no talk” way of view has just allowed many people to assume that same-sex relationships are “naturally” more equal because they lack the male/female power dynamics of different-sex relationships, which is not true.  As a result of that fake norm, when lesbian and gay victims of coercive control reach out for help, they may discover that some of their friends would prefer to ignore or deny their reality, acting as if only heterosexual people use violence and control in relationships. Isn’t this a socially “accepted” sign of an emotional abusive behavior? (Aronson & Beemyn, 2016)

According to The National Center of Elder Abuse (NCEA), physical abuse is: “the use of physical force that may result in bodily injury, physical pain, or impairment. Physical abuse may include but is not limited to such acts of violence as striking (with or without an object), hitting, beating, pushing, shoving, shaking, slapping, kicking, pinching, and burning. In addition, inappropriate use of drugs and physical restraints, force-feeding, and physical punishment of any kind also are examples of physical abuse.”  This type of abuse is very common in children and elders. (National Center of Elder Abuse, 2016).  Following the American Humane Association (2013), the data of The National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System (NCANDS) in 2005, published an estimated 3.3 million reports of alleged abuse and/or neglect involving approximately 6 million children were made to local child protective services (CPS) agencies across the country. An estimated 899,000 of these children were determined to be victims of abuse and/or neglect (USDHHS, 2007). Of these, 16.6 percent were determined to be victims of physical abuse. Further, an estimated 1,460 children died in 2005 as a result of child abuse and neglect (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2007). NCANDS data collection saw a large increase in child maltreatment numbers during its data collection in 2005 largely due to the inclusion of Alaska and Puerto Rico.

As an alert sign the article “Child Physical Abuse” (2007) signals the behavior of the child, when something traumatic has happened the victims tend to display withdrawn or aggressive behavioral extremes, complain of soreness or uncomfortable movement, wear clothing that is inappropriate for the weather, express discomfort with physical contact or become chronic runaways.

Also, elders can suffer from physical abuse. Basically, this population is susceptible to both kind of misstreatments. The newspaper “El Nuevo Día” made some research about the topic. One of them is published on the article “Aumentan las querellas por maltrato a ancianos” (2012).  On this article, they expose that according to information provided by the prosecutor, Concepción Silva Vergara, The Finance Committee of the House of Representatives during the six months from October 2012 to March 2013, received over 4,111 claims by abuse and violation of rights, against a 6,068 received during the 12 months of fiscal year 2011-2012 for the same reasons. So, the number of abusive cases raised on those years. Imagine how numbers are right now. ( Anonimo, 2013)

Surprisingly, the most common type of abusive act towards elders is financial exploitation and neglectment. It’s good to remember that abuse should never be tolerated and there are federal and governmental agencies prepared to lead with any type of case at any time. Never wait too much, life is the best gift that we have received. 

* Photo Courtesy from Pinterest 



1.      Tracy, N. (2016). Emotional Abuse: Definitions, Signs, Symptoms, Examples. February 15, 2016, from Healthy Place website: http://www.healthyplace.com/abuse/emotional-psychological-abuse/emotional-abuse-definitions-signs-symptoms-examples/

2.      Scottish Women`s Aid. (2016). What is coercive control? February 15, 2016, from Cedar Network website: http://www.cedarnetwork.org.uk/about/supporting-recovery/what-is-domestic-abuse/what-is-coercive-control/

3.      Office For the Prevention of Domestic Violence. (2016 ). Understanding Domestic Abusers. February 15, 2016, from New York State website: http://www.opdv.ny.gov/professionals/abusers/coercivecontrol.html

4.      Aronson, L. & Beemyn, G. (2016). Confronting Coercive Control in Queer Couples. February 15, 2016, from Huffington Post website: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lisa-aronson-fontes-phd/coercive-control-in-queer_b_7598150.html

5.      National Center of Elder Abuse. (2016). Types of abuse. February 15, 2016, from National Center of Elder Abuse website: http://www.ncea.aoa.gov/FAQ/Type_Abuse/index.aspx

6.      American Humane Association. (2013). Child Physical Abuse. February 15, 2016, de American Humane Association Sitio web: http://www.americanhumane.org/children/stop-child-abuse/fact-sheets/child-physical-abuse.html?referrer=https://www.google.com/

7.   Anonimo. (2013). Aumentan las querellas por maltrato a ancianos. February 15, 2016,  from El Nuevo Dia website: http://www.elnuevodia.com/noticias/seguridad/nota/aumentanlasquerellaspormaltratoaancianos-1514045



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