Abuse is the intentional harm caused to another person. It’s an attempt to control the behaviour of another person. Abusers intimidate, use fear, threaten, and can use violence and assault to achieve their desired outcome of control. Abuse can be physical, emotional, sexual, or financial.
Emotional or psychological abuse occurs when one person exposes another to behavior that leaves lasting psychological repercussions. This may or may not be coupled with physical abuse, and can occur anytime there is a power imbalance – at home, in the workplace, at school, etc. Emotional abuse is manipulative and can cause the sufferer to believe that they are worthless.
Bullying has unfortunately become an all-too-common occurrence in schools everywhere, and sometimes workplaces. Bullying can have a lasting impact for the victim. Whether you or someone you love is currently being bullied or have been bullied in the past with lasting psychological effects, a trained therapist can help you explore options to ease the burden.
Sexual abuse (or assault) is unwanted sexual contact that can leave both physical and emotional scars. This includes any sexual act in which one person has not consented or is being coerced through power, age, responsibility imbalance, or participating in self-destructive behavior. Acts like having sexually explicit pictures of you taken without consent, inappropriate touching, having someone expose their genitals, or even send you unwanted pictures are all considered sexual abuse and assault. Sexual abuse and assault can have a lasting impact on your mental health.
Physical violence encompasses a wide variety of abusive behaviors including spousal abuse, child abuse, abuse between siblings, or extended family members living in the home. Physical violence can also include other types of abuse such as psychological/emotional, economic, verbal, or sexual abuse. Often situations of family violence are complex and involve many different factors and relationships.
Financial abuse involves one person coercing or insisting that someone else surrenders control of their money and financial affairs to the abuser. The abuser is in a position of power over the victim. Controlling another person’s finances means having the ability to limit where they go, what they buy, what resources they can access, and ultimately – their independence. This type of abuse is common against seniors and in relationships where other abuse is present.
When is it time to get help?
If you experience the following symptoms as a result of being in a relationship with your family member, romantic partner, co-worker, etc., you are most likely in an abusive situation and should seek help immediately:
- Mood swings
- Low self-worth
- Lack of self-esteem
- Anxiety or a constant feeling of fear
- Fear of the abuser
- Fear of attending school, work, or other events where the bully/abuser may be present
- Inability to break free from the abuser
- Feelings of shame
- Pulling away from friends and family
- Being withdrawn from everyday life
- Misplaced aggression towards other people or family pets
- Openly or secretly planning revenge
- Attempting to overhaul one’s looks or life to blend in
- Avoiding situations or changing your job, school, or habits to avoid the bully/abuser
- Trust issues
- Feelings of numbness
- Shock and confusion
- Night terrors
- Physical injuries
- Problems sleeping
- Issues with sexual identity or functioning
- Trauma response (PTSD)
- Sleeping too much
- Lack of energy
- Flashbacks or nightmares of the abuse
- Memory issues
- Aches and pains
- Tense muscles
If you or someone you know is in a dangerous or life-threatening situation, please call 911.
For immediate help outside of our office hours, throughout Alberta, please call 211 or one of the following distress lines:
- Edmonton: The Crisis Centre call 780 482 HELP (4357)
- Greater Edmonton region: Rural Distress Line at 1-800-232-7288.
- Calgary: 403 266 HELP (4357)
Trauma from abuse treatment methods
There are several effective treatment methods for dealing with the trauma caused by abuse. Your therapist will discuss with you, the best options for your individual circumstance. Some treatment methods that are typically successful in treating the effects of abuse include:
- Narrative therapy is a form of psychotherapy that uses narratives and/or client’s personal stories to help people separate themselves from their problems, believing that the person isn’t the problem; the problem is the problem.
- Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is an evidence-based approach to treatment that focuses on how people’s thoughts, emotions, and beliefs influence their behaviour and how they perceive themselves.
- Person centered therapy differs from more traditional therapeutic approaches in the belief that, while the therapist has expertise in many areas, the client is the expert on themselves and their lived experiences. People are essentially trustworthy and have a vast potential for understanding themselves while also being able to ultimately resolve their own problems when guided properly.
- Reality therapy generally believes that individuals choose their behaviour and as a result, are responsible for not only what they are doing, but also how they think and feel. Clients develop the psychological strength to evaluate their own behaviour and acquire more effective behaviour with the support of a warm and accepting counselling environment.
What will I get out of treatment with Insight Psychological?
If you’re in an abusive relationship, getting the right therapy may help you to leave that relationship. If you are in an abusive situation and you are afraid for your life or your personal safety, call 911.
If you are a survivor of abuse, Insight can help you to deal with the trauma and aftermath so that you can go on to experience healthier relationships and better quality of life overall.
Insight can provide you with in-person, online, or telephone counselling. Contact us to learn more or to book an appointment.
Note: Insight can also provide therapy for abusers.