Understanding abuse

Date: January 1, 1970
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The article looks at what abuse is, mentioning the different types of abuse. It states that abuse happens across sexual, social standing lines etc

This article may be used to:
  • Highlight gender mainstreaming in news especially towards particular events.
  • Challenge the perception that abuse only happens and is perpetrated by a certain type of people.
  • As an example of gender sensitive language in the news.
  • Open up discussion on sources
  Trainer’s notes 
The article defines abuse in simple language that most people would understand. This kind of journalism is encouraging as it can empower victims. As the adage goes – knowledge is power. Some people might have been abused without knowing what they were subjected to constitutes abuse. Moreover, the article looks at the less talked about forms of abuse (verbal, financial and economic) whose effects are just as terrible as the commonly talked forms of abuse – sexual and physical abuse. All forms of abuse take a knock on the victim’s self-esteem making them feel like they are nothing making it easy for the perpetrators to continue with their cycle of abuse.
The article recognises that men can also be abused. Socialisation plays a part in reporting cases of abuse, whilst women are more likely to report cases of abuse men are not inclined to do so because they have been socialised into believing that ‘real men don’t cry’ asking for help to deal with an abusive situation will therefore be considered weak and un manly.
The article can challenge perceptions /misconceptions that certain types of people are prone to abuse. Abuse can happen to anyone, it happens across racial, educational, social standing, sex and other divides. The article is applauded for using a famous person who survived not only one form of abuse, but physical and emotional abuse. This shows that anyone is prone to abuse, but its how one deals with it that determines whether they are going to be victims forever or there are going to reclaim their lives. One point of confusions is that the article talks about abuse resulting from unequal power relations. In using the example of a celebrity it may be difficult to understand how a women who is rich, considered very beautiful, and largely independent can be in a relationship that is unequal. Some discussion on emotional abuse may have clarified this. 
The article sources experts, one male and one female .It is note worthy that a male source was accessed .Abuse is often associated with women and most previous articles looking at abuse tendered to be biased towards female sources .
Discussion Question
  • Define the term abuse. List the different kinds of abuse you know about and explain what they mean.
  • Media often only shows an interest in gender based violence towards a certain period (this article was published during 16 Days of Activism), how do we ensure that this topic does not all off the agenda once these events are over? Discuss.
  • What are the power inequalities that can lead to abuse.
Training exercises
  • Research and write a commentary on emotional abuse.
  • Research different laws related to different forms of abuse.
  • Read a selection of Gender Links “I” Stories, analyse the inequalities, traditions, and social practices that perpetuates violence.
Links to other training resources

Download : UnderstandingAbuse City Press28Nov08 SA

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