Abuse refers to the use or treatment of something (a person, item, substance, concept, or vocabulary) that is seen as harmful. The term comes from the words "abnormal use". It can be used for anything ranging from the misuse of a piece of equipment to the severe maltreatment of a person.
Several types of abuse include:
- Spiritual abuse: abusive or aberrational practices identified in the behavior and teachings of some churches, spiritual and religious organizations and groups.
- Sexual abuse: The improper use of another person for sexual purposes, generally without their consent or under physical or psychological pressure (which may include children whether abused by parents, those in loco parentis or strangers).
- Physical abuse: Where one person inflicts physical violence or pain on another.
- Verbal abuse: When a person uses profanity, demeaning talk, or threatening statements.
- Emotional abuse or psychological abuse: coercion, humiliation, intimidation, relational aggression, parental alienation or covert incest: Where one person uses emotional or psychological coercion to compel another to do something they do not want, or is not in their best interests; or when one person manipulates another’s emotional or psychological state for their own ends (see battered person syndrome), or commits psychological aggression using ostensibly non-violent methods to inflict mental or emotional violence or pain on another.
- Drug abuse: the misuse of drugs, alcohol or other substances, usually a form of addiction. Law enforcement officials, among others, often define drug abuse as "any" use of illegal drugs, whether or not use is actually harmful to the user or to anyone else.
- Child abuse: Abuse, usually physical, emotional or sexual, directed at a child.
- Spousal abuse (or domestic violence): Abuse, usually physical, or psychological abuse, directed at one’s domestic partner.
- Elder abuse: Abuse, most often physical or in the form of psychological threats, directed at the elderly, especially in nursing homes and similar institutions.
- Human rights abuse: Violation of human rights.
- Animal abuse: Abuse or cruelty directed at animals.
- Legal abuse: Vexatious litigation or malicious prosecution to retaliate, coerce, or emotionally/financially harm a person.
- Internet abuse includes a wide range of inappropriate online behavior, such as unsolicited promotional email, intrusion attempts, and phishing.