I would broaden the definition to include words, deeds, actions, interactions, sexual, attitudinal and neglect.
Abuse of all sorts, and to various degrees, is common. I’ve talked with many people over the years who tell me that they’ve been abused. Occasionally, I’ve concluded that oversensitivity, even selfishness, has some labeling the normal “wear and tear”, experienced between individuals as being abusive. However, some of the accounts that I’ve heard, have left me sleepless and troubled (and on a few occasions have resulted in a trip to the police station).
Abuse is one of those annoying things…you know what I mean? The abused seems to carry most, if not all of the baggage, while the abuser will tend to, at least seemingly, walk away free! I’m not sure that this is actually the case, but it is usually the abused, not the abuser that contacts me.
In a chat room for a counseling class I was in, we discussed abuse as a “severe gift”. It’s a complicated phrase because it’s difficult, if not illogical, to view abuse as a gift. However, the concept is that severe experiences like abuse, though dreadful, provide an opportunity in which we can access God’s great love and marvelous grace. This is not justifying the abuse or saying that it was good. It is saying that there are some situations so hurtful and horrific that only God, creator of heaven and earth…and of us, can provide the help and healing we need.
The Bible speaks against abuse of all sorts, repeatedly and from cover to cover. It advocates that others should always be treated in a respectful and compassionate fashion. Jesus’ second commandment was “love your neighbor as yourself”. Obviously, abuse of any sort is an infraction of His compassionate appeal.
What can be done about abuse? Personally, we need to be careful that we are not guilty of it at any level. The admonition to “…value others above yourselves” (Philippians 2:3) would be a good start.
If you have been abusive, stop it, seek forgiveness and get help, making amends humbly and honestly with whomever you still can.
For the abused, you won’t get over it, but with some support and counseling you will be able to get through it. Perhaps the following anonymous quote from a lady who can identify will prove helpful. “Abuse is abuse. It cuts the soul. You cannot heal yourself. I tried marriage, sex, alcohol and cleaning the house. None of them worked. Only God, through Jesus Christ, can totally heal us.“
“God heals the broken hearted and binds up their wounds” (Psalm 147.3).