Overt and Covert Abuse

We know we are in an abusive relationship when..
Men can also be victims
Types of abuse
The Abuser
Support network
Abuse doesn't have to be Violent
The Bottom Line
Tell someone about it.
EXIT: Time to escape

Dealing with the abuse later in life.

Sometimes victims of child abuse will block out any memory of the events or not even realise what was happening was wrong until they leave home. Going to university or getting your own flat, job and or steady relationship may suddenly bring back memories of what happened. Dealing with the emotions then can be difficult, especially if you can't remember much. You may experience some of the following:

  • Flashbacks and nightmares: You may find memories of the abuse will suddenly appear, be it during the day or in recurring nightmares.
  • Shame and guilt: You may blame yourself for the events; suffer from low self-esteem or feel too embarrassed to get help. The pressure of the memories and emotions may lead you to become severely depressed.
  • Intense anger: Often directed at the abuser, this may appear out of nowhere after you haven't seen them for a while. You may wish to confront them or completely avoid them. It may be more general.
  • Difficulty getting intimate: You may find that you avoid intimate relationships and are unable to trust other people. On the flipside you may tend to form very intense intimate relationships, which can be just as damaging.
  • Scared: You may wonder if you will ever be able to hold down a normal relationship, you may struggle to enjoy sex and you may fear becoming an abuser yourself.
  • All alone: You may feel completely isolated by the events of your past, alienated and expecting to stay that way.

How can I deal with it?

Take care of yourself: The fact that you were abused as a child can't be changed. It was not your fault though and so try not to punish yourself. Now is the time to look after yourself, treat yourself with respect and care and try to heal. If you can't stop harming yourself, be it through starvation or cutting, seek help.

Get angry: If you are full of anger for the way you were treated in the past, try and find a way to vent these feelings. Talk to someone, either a close friend or a counsellor. It may be easier to tell a complete stranger what you are going through. Or you could keep a diary. One of the best ways to get anger out and make yourself feel more positive is through exercise.

Let yourself grieve: It may sound strange, but the experiences you had stole your childhood and you have to allow yourself to get sad about this. You need to let the feelings out and not be afraid that once you do they won't stop. By allowing them out, you should begin to feel more in control.

What is child abuse?

95% of children who call ChildLine know their abuser, be they parents, teachers, friends of the family or other relatives.

What is child abuse?

There are four main forms:

  • Physical abuse: This includes hitting, kicking, beating, shaking and throwing, whether it causes bruises, broken bones or death.
  • Sexual abuse: This is where children are forced or persuaded to perform sexual acts by others, whether that's looking at pornography, being touched sexually or actually having sex.
  • Emotional abuse: When children are deprived of love and acceptance from their parents or guardians. They may be screamed at, blamed for things that aren't their fault and/or told they are worthless by their carers.
  • Neglect: When parents or guardians do not provide the child with the required food, warmth, shelter, care and protection.

Who abuses children?

95% of children who call ChildLine know their abuser, be they parents, teachers, friends of the family or other relatives.

Nobody has the right to abuse you. Not even your dad. It can cause physical injury, emotional scarring, and make an innocent victim feel too afraid to do anything about it.

Is it my fault?

No, every child has the right to be safe, it is the abuser who is in the wrong. Don't deal with it alone, tell someone you trust instead, such as a teacher or friend. 

The Bottom Line

All forms of human abuse are based upon the simple "use" or exploitation of one of us by another. Those of us being abused, are being abused simply because it satisfies, stimulates and pleasures our abusers need to do so. The bottom line appears to be that the pain suffered by the abused stimulates the abuser.


To abuse us in this way - is to control us.


  • This 'control' empowers and stimulates those who control us -our abusers.
  • To maintain stimulation - he or she - needs to maintain strict control.
  • To raise his or her level of stimulation - he or she - needs to intensify his or her control.
  • The more intense his or her level of control over us; the more intense - his or her -  level of pleasure / stimulation experienced

Alarmingly, anything that stimulates us as human beings can be addictive to us.

  • Abuser are addicted to the feelings they experience through ownership of another.
  • To maintain stimulation, the abuser needs to maintain control over the source of his or her stimulation = US.
  • The abusers greatest fear is that by losing ‘us’, he or she, will lose his or her source of pleasure / stimulation.
  • Being. addicted to their stimulation they realise that by losing us they would lose everything, and become nothing.


To prevent this from ever happening, control needs to be replaced by ownership and the 'controller' becomes the 'owner'.


To make ownership complete, our abuser's needs to strip us of anything that threatens his or her control over us - our identities. 


Primarily, our identities as individuals.


This stripping away of our individuality leaves us easy to control.  No longer individuals with personalities in our own right, but now mere objects whose sole purpose in life is to satisfy our owners whims.


The whims of those who now 'own' us. The whims of those who control our lives. The whims of those who deny us the right to be who we are. The whims of those whose need for stimulation enslaves us and traps us in an emotional prison of fear and dread.


The duty of the slave is to obey the slave owner.

According to expert opinion, abuse can be divided into two very distinct camps: Overt and Covert.


Overt Abuse



Covert Abuse


Covert meaning closed: Covert abuse is motivated almost entirely about control and the need to establish it.


Expert opinion maintains that covert abuse is often a "primitive and immature reaction to life circumstances in which the abuser (usually in his or her childhood) was rendered helpless"


So what is helpless ?


Helpless: A definition

Helpless is being unable to help oneself. Being weak and dependent upon others. Being deprived of strength or power. Being powerless. Incapacitated. Unable to help oneself. Powerless or incompetent. Lacking support or protection. Needing the help of other people. Being unable to do anything for oneself. Being unable to function without help. Unable to manage independently. Being lacking in, or deprived of strength or power.


Being unable to do anything for oneself and needing the help of others to function certainly explains why those of us that abuse feel the need to control, possess or own someone who will never make them feel helpless ever again.


Experts tell us that the overwhelming body of 'abusive behaviours' can be traced back to this panicky reaction to the remote potential for loss of control and the terrifying consequence of returning to a state of helplessness.


Many of us who abuse others are reported to be hypochondriacs and difficult patients. This is because having already suffered from helplessness we are frightened of losing control over our body, its looks and its proper functioning again.


Abusers  are also said to be obsessive-compulsive in an effort to subdue their physical habitat and render it foreseeable.


Abusers stalk others and harass them as a means of "being in touch" – another form of control.



This being so,  losing control over a significant other – is equivalent to losing control of a limb, or of one's brain. It is terrifying.


Independent or disobedient people evoke in the abuser the realisation that something is wrong with his or herworldview, that he or she is not the centre of the world or its cause and that he or she cannot control what, to him or her, are internal representations.


To the abuser, losing control means going insane. Because other people are mere elements in the abuser's mind – being unable to manipulate them literally means losing it (his or her mind).


Imagine, how it would be if we were suddenly to discover that we could no longer manipulate our own memories or control our own thoughts... Nightmarish!

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