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some initial observations towards a general theory of abuse

I”m poking around and doing some research for the conversation I”m having with some friends about ‘abuse” and how it is used.

First observations:

  • Searching both google and a research library, its pretty clear that there isn”t any real, easy to find resource that discusses ‘abuse” as a general concept.
  • For curious ppl, here is the search query I was using to try and find a general resource:

    abuse AND (understanding OR introduction OR defining) -substance -sexual -child -elder -domestic1

  • You know what I found? Despite running enough queries that google asked me to prove I wasn”t a bot? Nothing.
  • The point that is really highlighted is that if there are resources that discuss ‘abuse” as a general concept, they aren”t easy to find.
  • As far as I can tell, the only generic definition of abuse comes from the dictionary:

    treat (a person or an animal) with cruelty or violence, especially regularly or repeatedly.

  • Maybe wikipedia:

    Abuse is the improper usage or treatment of an entity, often to unfairly or improperly gain benefit. (but if you follow the citation, this is from the dictionary too).

  • google abuse and these are the first two hits.

Second observations:

  • Most (if not all) resources on abuse split themselves up in one of two ways: either by the group of victims (children, women, etc) or by the type of abuse (emotional, physical, etc.).
  • We could attempt to inductively arrive at a ‘general theory of abuse” by analyzing the various types/groups and looking for commonalities. (I”m surprised no one has actually done this, tbh)
  • This might be worthwhile to do before getting any further into this (so that instead of speculating, we”re working with the closest thing we can find to a general understanding of abuse.

Um… I think I might actually have to do this myself. Probably using wikipedia as my general resource, since lots of people use it as a starting point for research (myself included). It”s also freely and widely available (and generally easy to find).


  1. This was mainly used in the research library site since google no longer recognizes parentheses in searching queries. I picked the three works 'understanding, introduction, and defining" as a way to hopefully net me some beginner level stuff. Like really general discussions. The series of -[term] are there to remove many of the results that are about a specific kid of abuse only.