About Abuse vs. Aggression

        Premise: abuse, abuser, and abusive are widely mis-used emotionally-loaded words often used in and about low-nurturance ("troubled") relationships and families. For behavior between two people to be abuse vs. aggression, three things must be clearly true: (1) one person "P" (Persecutor) needs to have power over the other - i.e. something that the other person ("Victim") depends on for life safety or survival, like food, a job, medication, shelter, transportation, etc.; (2)  "P" needs to gratify a need by (a) intentionally using "V" (b) in a way that significantly harms "V" psychologically, physically, or spiritually beyond debate; and (3) "V" cannot (vs. will not) (a) effectively de-fend themselves (assert effective boundaries) from "P" or (b) withdraw. These three criteria apply to physical, verbal, sexual, and spiritual abuse.

        Aggressive behaviors can also cause significant psychological and spiritual wounds. However, communicating about the harmful behaviors and their impacts is less likely to invoke blame, shame, guilt, resentfulness, bit-terness, and defensiveness or denials and counterattacks ("fighting")  if "abuse" is used judiciously. This may not apply if anyone discussing the ag-gression and its impacts is ruled by a shame-based false self. In my clinical experience since 1981, significant abuse, aggression, and neglect are com-mon in typical low-nurturance (''dysfunctional'') families.

       Most adults aren't aware of this abuse / aggression distinction, and have trouble communicating effectively about it. This is also true of many well-meaning counselors, mediators, social caseworkers, attorneys, educators, law-makers, and judges. The point: be careful about using the provocative words "abuse," "abusive," and "abuser!" 

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