Definition of Abuse
Abuse is simply defined as the improper use of an adult relationship or misuse of an intimate relationship (persons can be casual dating; cohabitating/ in common law arrangements; or married).
Domestic abuse, also known as Intimate Partner violence, is defined as a pattern of behaviours used by one partner to maintain power and control over another partner in an intimate relationship (dating, cohabitating; marriage)
Children can also be abused/maltreated by other children, adolescents, adults and even elder population.
The Elder population can also be abused by a caregiver/carer; an adult or adolescent family member; a friend; an acquaintance of other unknown individuals.
The perpetrator of abuse seeks power and control of the victim in an abusive relationship. The perpetrator can inflict emotional abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse; financial abuse or economic deprivation of their victim and even medical abuse (depriving the victim of appropriate and timely medical care of any underlying medical illnesses). They often "gaslight" which is the minimizing of the victims reports of abuse; further the perpetrator often denies the occurrence of the abuse and often blames the victim for their behaviours. "Gaslighting" is a form of emotional abuse by the perpetrator.
Persons who abuse, have several risk and protective factors that are at play and are determinants of the maladaptive patterns of abusive behaviours.
Some Risk Factors of an Abusive Adult:
Childhood history of abuse/maltreatment; living in abusive family unit (observing domestic violence between parents and or guardian);
Has normalized abuse as appropriate and acceptable behaviour
Child, Adolescent and or Adult history of Abuse (victim and or perpetrator)
Underlying Alcohol Use disorder
H/o Unmanaged stress & poor coping strategies
Control oriented; dominating personality type (narcissistic personality disorder; borderline personality disorder; antisocial personality disorder; mixed personality disorders-BPD+ASPD)
Seeks power and control over their victims
Growing up in a poverty environment
Lack of connection with Sunday School as a youth/young adult; church, pastor, priest or spiritual advisor
Some Protective Factors:
Childhood period is good; growing up in good quality home; shown unconditional love and affection; nurturing and attachment developed in home
Taught good morals & spiritual values
Knowledge of parenting of child and youth development
Good support systems; parental resilience
Good social connections as a young adult and parent; good mentors
Connection with Sunday School; church; pastor, priest and or spiritual advisor
Knowledge of appropriate societal norms
Common Abuse in the Home
The common forms of Abuse include:
I. Physical Abuse
II. Emotional Abuse
III. Sexual Abuse
IV. Financial Abuse
VI. Medical Abuse
VII. Educational Abuse
Perpetrators of Abuse can include:
Victims of Abuse include:
Signs of Abuse in Elders include:
Acute changes in mood i.e. depressed; uncontrollable crying; loss of appetite; wanting to be isolated from family; sullen and withdrawn; lack of communication with family; unexplained falls and injuries (hip fractures or limb fractures, dislocations); appearance of negative thoughts, that is suicidal ideas, suicidal thoughts and suicidal plan
Signs of Abuse in Adults:
Uncontrollable crying; unexplained injuries (bruises; contusions; scratches; lacerations; head injuries; defensive wounds to forearms; hands and wrists); late and increased absenteeism from work due to noticeable injuries; have difficulty in stating the identity of their abuser. On the other hand, If they do reveal the identity of their abuser, they may later be unwilling to reveal it to investigators.
Signs of Abuse in Young Children:
Appearance of regressive symptoms (thumb sucking; bedwetting; soiling themselves) at nighttime/early am); uncontrollable crying; oversleeping; unexplained injuries/signs of trauma i.e. swelling or blood, redness in the bikini area (pubic region; buttocks); child unable to verbalize what happen to them; school refusal; declining academic performance
Signs of Abuse in Adolescents:
Onset of Irritability; hostile towards parents/legal guardian without any provocation; secrecy; uncontrollable crying; unexplained visible injuries (bruises; contusions; scratches; lacerations; fractures; dislocations).
Injuries or trauma in the bikini area i.e. swelling, blood, irritation (over the pubic regions; buttocks); hyper-startle response/”jumpiness” when approached by parent/legal guardian; school refusal; declining academic performance
If an Adult Admits To Being Abused, What does One Do:
I. Do not Be Dismissive of the person and what they are telling you. Three simple words are in order, " I Believe You"
II. Listen to the person without passing judgment (empathic listening)
III. In the case of physical and or sexual assault, accompany the individual to the Emergency Room Department for a thorough assessment by a medical personnel and by the Royal Bahamas Police Force (RBPF) Investigator/s
IV. Offer Support and let them know that professional help is available to them (talk therapy sessions with a clinical psychologist and or psychiatrist)
If a Child and Adolescent is Suspected of Being Abuse, What does One do:
I. Do not be dismissive of the child or adolescent’s injuries but take them in to the Emergency Room Department to be examined by a medical professional.
Acquire collateral information of the abuse from eyewitnesses; or the homeroom teacher and or relatives who may have observed what happen. Ensure that you document, date and time what you have learnt.
II. SCAN-Suspected Child & Adolescent Abuse and Neglect Unit of the Ministry of Social Services will be notified and will investigate the matter. The Royal Bahamas Police Force Investigator will also be informed to commence a formal investigation of the suspected abuse
III. Allow your Child or Adolescent to be referred to the Sandilands Rehabilitation Centre- Child & Adolescent Psychiatric Team and do accompany them for the initial diagnostic assessment and ongoing talk therapy sessions with trained mental health professionals
Emergency Services: 919
Doctors Hospital: 302-4300
ER Department, PMH: 322-2861
Community Counseling & Assessment Center: 323-3293/5
Bahamas Crisis Center: 328-0922
Pastor/Priest/Spiritual Advisor Keep contacts in a diary