By Diane Houghtaling
 Abuse wears many faces and comes in different forms. The leading forms of abuse are physical, sexual, verbal, mental and emotional.
• Physical abuse is any form of inflicting pain by physical means. It’s much more than just a spanking, and can cause injury and scars that last a lifetime.
• Sexual abuse is any form of sexual activity inflicted upon another against their will. Its scars, though unseen, can haunt a person for their entire lives.
• Verbal abuse can include excessive yelling and screaming, intimidation, manipulation, badgering, constant put downs, guilt, control and lies.
• With mental abuse your mind sustains damage when you take on the mindset of abuse. You begin to believe the lies that are continually coming at you. "You’re stupid." "You’re no good." "You’re not worth anything." "You can’t do anything right."
Believing the worst lie, "You deserve to be abused," leads to a victim mentality. In your mind you become a hopeless victim who must take whatever comes at you, and there’s nothing you can do about it because you believe you did something to deserve it.
• With emotional abuse your emotions become crippled and you can no longer maintain them in a healthy way. They are fragile and quick to snap at any little offense. As soon as feelings of disappointment, hurt or anger surface, you overreact, many times reverting to the same abuse you’ve received.
Abuse is a learned behavior that many grow up with, and is passed from generation to generation. The only way it can be stopped is for one person to decide that the abuse is not going to be passed beyond them and take the necessary steps to healing.
The road to stopping the abuse and being healed can be a long hard one. As hard as it may be, removing yourself from an abusive relationship or situation may be the easier part. Learning to have a healthy mindset and how to handle your emotions in a healthy way will take much work, but is the only way to keep from passing the abuse on to others.
Some steps to healing include finding a safe person you trust to begin talking with. If you don’t have a safe person to talk to, God is always available and listening.
As you share your pain it begins to lessen. Forgiving your abuser is a most important step to get rid of crippling bitterness.
But you must also renew your mindset to begin to think and react differently, to see yourself as a person of value and worth. Reading God’s word and taking it to heart will help you to see yourself as He created you to be.
Although the holidays are supposed to be wonderful family times, there are many who dread the holidays because that’s when the abuse seems to escalate. If that’s the case in your family, we are here to help.
Hope Ministries Inc. is a Christian counseling center. If you want to speak confidentially with someone, call us at (845)482-5300.