By definition the word abuse has two aspects; the improper use of something and the cruel or violent treatment of a person or animal. The first aspect, the improper use of something, usually but not always implies that the abuser and the victim are the same. In the second aspect, the cruel or violent treatment of persons or animals, the abuser has clearly defined victims. The physical aspect of the abuse of others is only a fragment of a dynamic power relationship whereby the abusers indulge in a systematic pattern of behaviours to gain or maintain power and control over another. In the democratic cultures of the world the abuse of another person is a criminal offence punishable by law.
FACT 1: Substance abuse is the patterned use of a drug in which the user consumes the substance in amounts or with methods which are harmful to themselves or others. Here drugs refer to psycho active substances including alcohol. Globally, the harmful use of alcohol results in 3.3 million deaths annually. On an average every person in the world over 15 consumes 6.2 litres of pure alcohol per year. As only 38.8 % of the world’s population are drinkers this means that they consume an average 17 litres of pure alcohol annually.
FACT 2: Other psycho active substances include cannabis, cocaine, amphetamines, opioids and non-prescribed psycho active prescription medication. Abuse of these substances causes significant health and social problems for those who use them and also their families and communities. WHO estimates that 0.7 of the global burden of disease was due to cocaine and opioid use and the social cost of illicit drug abuse was in the region of 2% of the GDP of countries which measured it.
FACT 3: Child abuse is when a parent or care giver whether through action of failure to act causes injury, death, emotional harm or risk of serious harm to the child. There are many forms of child abuse and it is rampant in most parts of the world. In USA, 28.3% of adults report physical abuse as a child, 20.7 report sexual abuse and 10.6 report emotional abuse.
FACT 4: Emotional abuse occurs when a person attempts to scare, isolate or control another person. It affects emotional and physical well-being and may lead to physical abuse. Many women are victims of domestic emotional abuse either by their spouses or other family members such as their in laws. The victims are not always aware of the abuse and worldwide efforts are being made to help women who are either physically or emotionally abused.
FACT 5: Elder abuse is also common in all parts of the world, though not often recorded as the victim usually suffer in silence. Hundreds of thousands of elders are abused to some extent yearly. The abuse could be physical or sexual, involve neglect, exploitation and abandonment. In some cases the abuse is self-inflicted as in self-neglect.
FACT 6: The abuse of power is corruption. Corruption is the abuse of public or entrusted power for private gain. Though corruption exists in some form or other in all societies and in all scenarios, it is most damaging in developing countries where the victims are cheated out of their right to the basic necessities of life.
FACT 7: In all countries in the world there are agencies to help deal with all forms of abuse. These include help lines where the victim can directly access relief. These include text messages. Rehabilitation centres and shelters are also available. Outreach centres and support groups help the victims overcome the trauma
FACT 8: In 2011, there were 403,756 admissions in the age group 18 to 25, to substance abuse treatment programmes in USA.
FACT 9: Domestic abuse accounts for 16% of all violent crime. It leads to the death of 2 women a week and 30 men a year. It affects 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men in their lifetime. Yet it is the crime least likely to be reported.
FACT 10: Anyone who suspects abuse in any form has a duty to report it to the concerned agency, be it an enforcement agency or a helpline. It is not the role of the observer to verify the abuse, but only to alert the authorities to the suspicion of abuse.