The many faces of abuse
Part of the reason that abuse is so hard to identify is there are so many ways to do it, even the word itself has different meanings.
A privilege not a right
In all relationships there are privileges earned that can be abused. Your friend is entitled to be direct and honest with you out of love, they are not entitled to point out every single flaw to undermine you.
To use excessively
An occasional alcoholic beverage is fine, but eventually if you use it too much it becomes abuse of alcohol.
Relationships are like this. There are things that are perfectly acceptable and fine in relationships, like asking for help with something or asking for forgiveness. Like alcohol they can be perfectly healthy things, until a person uses it excessively.
It seems an obvious one, but let's not forget that this is also part of the picture.
You can physically injure a person without hitting them.
Perhaps they are withholding your medication. Perhaps they 'accidentally' trip you more often than should happen. Perhaps they ask you to do things that they know will injure you, like carry things that are too heavy.
Sticks and stones
Most victims of abuse that I have spoken to tell me that the most damaging thing is not the physical abuse.
The most damaging thing is the diminishing of their sense of worth, and the the most effective weapon for this is words. They aren't 'just words'.
Often people struggling with addiction aren't just damaging themselves.
Does your loved one refuse to get help? Do they tell you that you are causing their addiction?
Abuse is complex
We understand that abuse is complex. Because of that we want to talk about all the different forms of abuse, and encourage you to think about it and talk to your loved ones about it.
While it is not easy to leave an abusive relationship, you certainly cannot begin that process if you don't realise it is abusive. We aren't just talking about romantic relationships either, all relationships (family, friends, work, sport, religion, neighbours, school) can be abusive.
We use a touch stone of respect because we cannot give you a checklist for all forms of abusive behaviour. We can give you a way to measure healthy relationships, starting with respectful behaviour. Give your time to healthy relationships, to people who value you. Talk to your friends and loved ones about respectful relationships, what do they look like, how do we measure them, and are we prioritising them?