I am reading a book by Dr. Henry Cloud titled Changes that Heal. The book emphasizes bonding, boundaries, and grace, truth, and time as agents which bring about change and healing in those who struggle with depression or a less than ideal past.

One of the most difficult parts of the book is the use of words like “abuse” and “abusive”. The abused struggles to categorize behavior as abusive, wrong, overstepping boundaries, violating the self. We question if the actions perpetrated against us are truly wrong or if we just have wrong perceptions. We often wonder if the events or actions actually occurred or if our minds are turning against us. For the abused, “abuse” and “abusive” are grey areas which we cannot define.

What defines sexual abuse? Is it the act of forcing one to have relations against their will? Certainly. But what about the married man whose wife treats him like an object and only uses him for her own pleasure with no consideration of his needs or limits, or the child whose grandfather makes her uncomfortable when he kisses her goodbye and does so on the mouth? What about the grey areas? The things that make us FEEL wrong, but lie within the boundaries of familial relationships? Are these abusive too? One would not deny that they are traumatic to the person experiencing them, but defining them as abuse is much more difficult, especially for the abused.

If we say that abuse is something which makes one feel violated and has at its core a selfish motive, then what is abuse to one person may not be abuse to another. This removes the objectivity. What happens then when an abused person takes the case to court and the judge does not feel that the actions perpetraited against him qualify as abuse? So, clearly, this is a complicated issue. There is no list defining abuse by the acts that have been perpetrated across time. It is something the abused must rectify and work out in his own mind, a puzzle to be strung together like any other puzzle in life. It’s no wonder that books on healing bring about such confusion in the mind of the abused, when we struggle to even define and apply the terms used therein. Just some food for thought on this Friday morning as I continue reading about boundaries of the physcial body.

I am reading a book by Dr. Henry Cloud titled Changes that Heal. The book emphasizes bonding, boundaries, and grace, truth, and time as agents which bring about change and healing in those who struggle with depression or a less than ideal past.

One of the most difficult parts of the book is the use of words like “abuse” and “abusive”. The abused struggles to categorize behavior as abusive, wrong, overstepping boundaries, violating the self. We question if the actions perpetrated against us are truly wrong or if we just have wrong perceptions. We often wonder if the events or actions actually occurred or if our minds are turning against us. For the abused, “abuse” and “abusive” are grey areas which we cannot define.

What defines sexual abuse? Is it the act of forcing one to have relations against their will? Certainly. But what about the married man whose wife treats him like an object and only uses him for her own pleasure with no consideration of his needs or limits, or the child whose grandfather makes her uncomfortable when he kisses her goodbye and does so on the mouth? What about the grey areas? The things that make us FEEL wrong, but lie within the boundaries of familial relationships? Are these abusive too? One would not deny that they are traumatic to the person experiencing them, but defining them as abuse is much more difficult, especially for the abused.

If we say that abuse is something which makes one feel violated and has at its core a selfish motive, then what is abuse to one person may not be abuse to another. This removes the objectivity. What happens then when an abused person takes the case to court and the judge does not feel that the actions perpetraited against him qualify as abuse? So, clearly, this is a complicated issue. There is no list defining abuse by the acts that have been perpetrated across time. It is something the abused must rectify and work out in his own mind, a puzzle to be strung together like any other puzzle in life. It’s no wonder that books on healing bring about such confusion in the mind of the abused, when we struggle to even define and apply the terms used therein. Just some food for thought on this Friday morning as I continue reading about boundaries of the physcial body.

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