Define: Abuse

Quick Summary of Abuse

In legal contexts, abuse refers to the wrongful or harmful treatment of another person, typically involving physical, emotional, sexual, or psychological harm. It encompasses various forms of mistreatment, exploitation, or neglect inflicted upon individuals, particularly vulnerable populations such as children, elderly persons, or individuals with disabilities. Abuse can take many forms, including physical abuse (such as hitting, punching, or restraining), emotional abuse (such as belittling, threatening, or manipulating), sexual abuse (such as unwanted touching, assault, or exploitation), and neglect (such as failure to provide basic care or necessities). In addition to individual acts of abuse, systemic or institutional abuse can occur within organisations, institutions, or systems that fail to protect individuals from harm or provide appropriate safeguards against abuse. Legal protections against abuse vary by jurisdiction but often include criminal laws prohibiting abusive behaviour, civil remedies for victims seeking compensation or protection, and regulatory measures to prevent abuse and ensure accountability. Identifying and addressing abuse requires prompt intervention, investigation, and enforcement of laws and policies designed to safeguard individuals’ rights and well-being.

What is the dictionary definition of Abuse?
Dictionary Definition of Abuse

Abuse (noun): 1. The act of mistreating or harming someone physically, emotionally, or mentally, often resulting in pain, injury, or distress. Example: The child suffered from abuse at the hands of their caregiver. 2. The misuse or improper use of something, often resulting in damage or harm. Example: The abuse of drugs can lead to severe health problems. 3. The excessive or wrongful use of power or authority, often resulting in exploitation or manipulation. Example: The politician was accused of abuse of power for personal gain. 4. Insulting, offensive, or derogatory language or behaviour towards someone, often aimed at belittling or demeaning them. Example: The online troll engaged in verbal abuse towards other users. 5. The repetitive or persistent pattern of controlling, coercive, or violent behaviour within a relationship, typically by one partner towards the other. Example: Domestic abuse can have severe consequences for the victim’s physical and mental well-being. Note: The term “abuse” can be used in various contexts, including interpersonal relationships, substance abuse, child abuse, elder abuse, and institutional abuse.

Full Definition Of Abuse

Everything that is contrary to good order established by usage. Departure from reasonable use; immoderate or improper use. Physical or mental maltreatment. Misuse. Deception.

To wrong in speech, reproach coarsely, disparage, revile, and malign.

Abuse FAQ'S

Abuse refers to any form of mistreatment, harm, or wrongdoing inflicted on an individual, often involving physical, emotional, sexual, or financial harm.

There are several types of abuse, including physical abuse, emotional or psychological abuse, sexual abuse, financial abuse, neglect, and verbal abuse.

Physical abuse involves the intentional use of force that causes bodily harm or injury to another person, including hitting, slapping, punching, kicking, or using objects to inflict harm.

Emotional or psychological abuse involves behaviours that undermine an individual’s emotional well-being, self-esteem, and mental health, such as verbal insults, humiliation, intimidation, threats, and manipulation.

Sexual abuse involves non-consensual sexual activity or exploitation, including rape, molestation, unwanted touching, coercion, or any form of sexual contact without consent.

Financial abuse involves the unauthorised or improper use of an individual’s financial resources or assets for the perpetrator’s benefit, often through deception, coercion, or manipulation.

Neglect occurs when a caregiver fails to provide adequate care, supervision, or necessities for an individual’s well-being, including food, shelter, medical care, and emotional support.

Signs of abuse may include unexplained injuries or bruises, changes in behaviour or mood, withdrawal from social activities, fear of certain individuals, financial discrepancies, poor hygiene, and other physical or emotional indicators of distress.

If you suspect abuse, it’s essential to take immediate action to protect the victim. You can report your concerns to the appropriate authorities, such as law enforcement, adult protective services, or child protective services, depending on the circumstances.

Abuse prevention involves raising awareness, promoting education about healthy relationships and boundaries, providing support services for victims and survivors, enforcing laws and policies that address abuse, and fostering a culture of respect and accountability.

The legal consequences of abuse vary depending on the severity and type of abuse, but perpetrators may face criminal charges, civil lawsuits, protective orders, and other legal interventions aimed at holding them accountable for their actions.


This site contains general legal information but does not constitute professional legal advice for your particular situation. Persuing this glossary does not create an attorney-client or legal adviser relationship. If you have specific questions, please consult a qualified attorney licensed in your jurisdiction.

This glossary post was last updated: 29th March 2024.

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