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Preventing Abuse

Kathryn Patricelli, MA Updated: Mar 16th 2016

A great deal of abuse in life is unavoidable, and can only be escaped once it has taken place. However, there are also some forms of abuse that people get exposed to in their lives that can be avoided to some extent if proper precautions are put in place early on.


  • If you are an adult:
    • You can take the time to learn what abuse is and isn't, so that you immediately recognize abuse if it occurs to you or someone close to you.
    • If you have a tendency to be passive in relationships with others, you can learn to be more assertive, particularly in communicating your boundaries and what is acceptable and not acceptable to you.
    • If you have a tendency to be very assertive with others, you may want to consult with others you trust so as to make sure you are not habitually and unconsciously cross over the line from assertiveness into abuse. If you are told you tend to be aggressive rather than assertive, you can learn how to become more assertive rather than aggressive in your interactions.


  • If you are a parent, you should teach your child in age-appropriate ways:
    • To identify what abuse is and isn’t and how to avoid circumstances that might lead to abuse.
    • The difference between appropriate and inappropriate touching.
    • What their body parts are and how they are appropriately named so that they can properly describe it if someone touches them in an inappropriate place.
    • That someone might threaten them with violence if they tell about inappropriate behavior, but that they should always tell you.
    • That they are allowed to say "no" when someone asks them for something they don't want (being assertive), especially with strangers.

    You should also watch your kids for signs that something has changed for the worse (behavioral, physical or personality changes that suggest something disturbing has occurred), and ask them direct questions if you suspect the worst. Take the necessary steps to track abuse down and stop it from repeating immediately. Please strongly consider getting your children and perhaps your entire family involved in professional psychotherapy with a therapist specializing in the treatment of abuse if your children have been abused.


  • If you are dating:
    • Expect that you might be drugged if you are drinking, and take precautions. Never let your drink out of your sight. Use a Rohypnol test kit to test if your drink has been spiked.
    • Use the buddy system. Go out with friends and do not let each other out of your sight.
    • Be wary and do not take unnecessary and unintelligent risks (such as going home with strangers or meeting them in a non-public place)
    • Tell someone at home where you are going and when you will be back.
    • If you do choose to engage in sexual behavior, be very clear and explicit with your partner about the level of sexual activity you are and are not willing to engage in.
    • Carry your own latex condoms if you intend to have sex with strangers (latex condoms protect against STDs where some others don't) and insist that they be used.


Reader Comments
Discuss this issue below or in our forums.

I am abusive, and didnt know the pain it cuases. - Ian - Apr 22nd 2012

I’m going to be as honest as possible. I recently went through a break up, with a person I really loved. I had to know why she left me. She informed me of what had happened, I had snippets of situations where I took things too far, my play fighting was a bit aggressive, “I had crossed the line” only when she demanded I stop, being confused why she was so upset over something so small. In reality the impact of my aggressive actions-however miniscule I perceive them- scared her and made her feel helpless, she felt she could have done something to help stop me from bruising her arms and legs, or making her cry, and putting her down.  I was shocked to find she at one point in the worst of it, related my actions (me in that moment) to that of the man who sexually raped her. This is the person I love. I feel ashamed and pain. It has brought out a lot from my past; I never thought I could be that person you hate when you watch film about abuse. Today I am still that person; I don’t want to be that person, I have enough pain to be fearless enough to change. I don’t want to dwell on the impacts of my abuse, strictly so I can be honest in the extent of my actions. That’s when ill know what to change.

-self will was our dilemma, fear of losing control caused an impulse to cling, trap, hold on even if it ment to destroy. It manifested into physical, emotional, and mental pain.“if only we both knew that that sense of fear and helplessness is equal in both the abuser and the abused”.

i dont know why he abusing me - - Dec 6th 2008
i had a friend.we broked up andknow he abusing me...he only started abusing so i stopped talking to him...he abused my frens also...

Abuse from Bipolar - Amy - Aug 13th 2007

The abuse and the bipolar are two separate issues.  They need to be dealt with separately.  Bipolar people can be abusive, but not always.  Please don't think that her abusiveness is because of her bipolar.



I would send him literature on the disease however, I would not confront him directly and persuade him to leave this girl. A grown child will resent you and may not listen to you. I would be supportive and also keep in mind coming back from Iraq he is dealiing with his own mental problems. He may have them and he may think he cannot make the right decision. Try to be supportive and send him literature he can read. The idea is to let him make his own decision and sometimes its the wrong one, however everyone has to make their own decisions in life and learn from them.You can only guide him through support and let him open up to you if he can and in the end it will be his decision. I hope this helps.

- vanniepl - Feb 11th 2007
son is getting married to a girl that is bipolar, he recently returned from Iraq and is now going through domestic abuse from his girlfriend how do I stop marriage or get him to see what is happening to him.  Thanks

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