How to tell if it is abusive

by Rod Smith

Abuse exists on a continuum from mild to criminal. It can exist in any relationship be it with a spouse, with family members, a church, an employer or an employee. It can be physical (violence), emotional (intimidation), psychological (threatening, withholding, playing “mind games”) sexual, and spiritual (“speaking for God). It often begins in very subtle ways and is often couched in terms of love, concern, and protectiveness.

Here are some “red flags” or indications that abuse is occurring or may occur:

  1. Your will or voice or preferences are over-ridden and saying so is impossible or is ignored.
  2. You are unequal and treated as such even though you are an adult. You are powerless and treated as such even though you are an adult.
  3. Others are benefitting from your contribution to the group while the very same benefits are withheld from you. You are praised and rewarded for your role and contribution. Praise is used to keep you doing your part in padding the power and the profits of others. In the meantime your power remains out of your hands and the profits and benefits of your contribution remain out of your reach.
  4. Your dreams and aspirations are belittled or disregarded.

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