What is Abuse?

The New Webster's dictionary defines abuse as:

To turn from the proper use, to ill-use; to deceive; to vilify; to violate. 

Abuse comes in many forms and it can be repeated in our every day lives when we are aware of it or not.

Domestic abuse, also known as spousal abuse, occurs when one person in an intimate relationship or marriage tries to dominate and control the other person. An abuser doesn’t “play fair.” He or she uses fear, guilt, shame, and intimidation to wear you down and gain complete power over you. He or she may threaten you, hurt you, or hurt those around you. Domestic abuse that includes physical violence is called domestic violence.

Despite what many people believe, domestic violence is not due to the abuser’s loss of control over his behavior. In fact, violence is a deliberate choice made by the abuser in order to take control over his wife or partner.

Spousal abuse and battery are used for one purpose: to gain and maintain total control over the victim. In addition to physical violence, abusers use the following tactics to exert power over their wives or partners: 

Dominance — Abusive individuals need to feel in charge of the relationship. They will make decisions for you and the family, tell you what to do, and expect you to obey without question. Your abuser may treat you like a servant, child, or even as his possession.

Humiliation — An abuser will do everything he can to make you feel bad about yourself, or defective in some way. After all, if you believe you're worthless and that no one else will want you, you're less likely to leave. Insults, name-calling, shaming, and public put-downs are all weapons of abuse designed to erode your self-esteem and make you feel powerless.

Isolation — In order to increase your dependence on him, an abusive partner will cut you off from the outside world. He may keep you from seeing family or friends, or even prevent you from going to work or school. You may have to ask permission to do anything, go anywhere, or see anyone. Source: Domestic Abuse Intervention Project, MN

Threats — Abusers commonly use threats to keep their victims from leaving or to scare them into dropping charges. Your abuser may threaten to hurt or kill you, your children, other family members, or even pets. He may also threaten to commit suicide, file false charges against you, or report you to child services.

Intimidation — Your abuser may use a variety of intimation tactics designed to scare you into submission. Such tactics include making threatening looks or gestures, smashing things in front of you, destroying property, hurting your pets, or putting weapons on display. The clear message is that if you don't obey, there will be violent consequences.

Denial and blame — Abusers are very good at making excuses for the inexcusable. They will blame their abusive and violent behavior on a bad childhood, a bad day, and even on the victims of their abuse. Your abuser may minimize the abuse or deny that it occurred. He will commonly shift the responsibility onto you: Somehow, his violence and abuse is your fault.

Domestic abuse falls into a common pattern, or cycle of violence: 

Abuse — The abuser lashes out with aggressive or violent behavior. The abuse is a power play designed to show the victim "who is boss." 

Guilt — After the abusive episode, the abuser feels guilt, but not over what he's done to the victim. The guilt is over the possibility of being caught and facing consequences.

Rationalization or excuses — The abuser rationalizes what he's done. He may come up with a string of excuses or blame the victim for his own abusive behavior—anything to shift responsibility from himself.

"Normal" behavior — The abuser does everything he can to regain control and keep the victim in the relationship. He may act as if nothing has happened, or he may turn on the charm. This peaceful honeymoon phase may give the victim hope that the abuser has really changed this time.

Fantasy and planning — The abuser begins to fantasize about abusing his victim again, spending a lot of time thinking about what she's done wrong and how he'll make her pay. Then he makes a plan for turning the fantasy of abuse into reality.

Set-up — The abuser sets up the victim and puts his plan in motion, creating a situation where he can justify abusing her.tion — An abuser will do everything he can.

 

The Full Cycle of Domestic Violence

A man abuses his partner. After he hits her, he experiences self-directed guilt. He says, "I'm sorry for hurting you." What he does not say is, "Because I might get caught." He then rationalizes his behavior by saying that his partner is having an affair with someone. He tells her "If you weren't such a worthless whore I wouldn't have to hit you." He then acts contrite, reassuring her that he will not hurt her again. He then fantasizes and reflects on past abuse and how he will hurt her again. He plans on telling her to go to the store to get some groceries. What he withholds from her is that she has a certain amount of time to do the shopping. When she is held up in traffic and is a few minutes late, he feels completely justified in assaulting her because "you're having an affair with the store clerk." He has just set her up.

Source: Mid-Valley Women's Crisis Service

Your abuser’s apologies and loving gestures in between the episodes of abuse can make it difficult to leave. He may make you believe that you are the only person who can help him, that things will be different this time, and that he truly loves you. However, the dangers of staying are real.

Domestic abuse often escalates from threats and verbal abuse to physical violence and even murder. And while physical injury may be the most obvious danger, the emotional and psychological consequences of domestic abuse.

Sexual abuse is common in abusive relationships. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, between one-third and one-half of all battered women are raped by their partners at least once during their relationship. Any situation in which you are forced to participate in unwanted, unsafe, or degrading sexual activity is sexual abuse. Forced sex, even by a spouse or intimate partner with whom you also have consensual sex, is an act of aggression and violence. Furthermore, women whose partners abuse them physically and sexually are at a higher risk of being seriously injured or killed.

 

Economic or financial abuse

Remember, an abuser’s goal is to control you, and he will frequently hurt you to do that. In addition to hurting you emotionally and physically, an abusive partner may also hurt you in the pocketbook. Economic of financial abuse includes:

  • Controlling the finances.
  • Withholding money or credit cards.
  • Giving you an allowance.
  • Making you account for every penny you spend.
  • Stealing from you or taking your money.
  • Exploiting your assets for personal gain.
  • Withholding basic necessities (food, clothes, medications, shelter).
  • Preventing you from working or choosing your own career.
  • Sabotaging your job (making you miss work, calling constantly)

 

How dose Art heal?

How does art heal? Scientific studies tell us that art heals by changing a person's physiology and attitude. The body's physiology changes from one of stress to one of deep relaxation, from one of fear to one of creativity and inspiration. Art and music put a person in a different brain wave pattern, art and music affect a person's autonomic nervous system, their hormonal balance and their brain neurotransmitters.

Art and music affect every cell in the body instantly to create a healing physiology that changes the immune system and blood flow to all the organs. Art and Music also immediately change a person's perceptions of their world. They change attitude, emotional state, and pain perception. They create hope and positivity and they help people cope with difficulties. They transform a person's outlook and way of being in the world.

In fact it is now known by neurophysiologists that art, prayer, and healing all come from the same source in the body, they all are associated with similar brain wave patterns, mind body changes and they all are deeply connected in feeling and meaning. Art, prayer, and healing all take us into our inner world, the world of imagery and emotion, of visions and feelings. This journey inward into what used to be called the spirit or soul and is now called the mind, is deeply healing. For healing comes to us from within, our own healing resources are freed to allow our immune system to operate optimally and that is always how we heal. This is the contemporary version of freeing our healing energies and is now recognized to be crucial to healing. We go inward on The Creative Spiral together through art and music.