August 14, 2021

3 Ways to Deal With Abuse by Authority Figures

By Psych Times Staff

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Abuse comes in different forms. Sometimes, it can be seen by the naked eye, but it’s beyond physical mistreatment in some cases. When one person behaves invasively, violently, or cruelly toward another person, it could already be a sign of abuse. However, the victim may not recognize it right away, particularly if the abuser is an authority figure or someone who’s in power and position to be demeaning and protruding in more ways than one. 

Abuse by an authority figure is something no one would ever want to experience in their lifetime. Most people think authority figures are only those people in high positions, such as the police, government officials, or a boss at work. However, they could also be one’s parents or other family members who’ve assumed responsibility and control over such person. 

Recognizing the Signs

There are many victims of abuse who are in denial of what they’re going through. Either they’re afraid of what their abuser will say or do once their acts have been exposed. Or it could be as simple as the victim not recognizing or characterizing the experience as abuse. 

Being terrified is typical, especially when the victim’s life or their family is already at stake. Take, for example, most police brutality cases that are happening every day to people who can’t do anything about it. The abuse could involve false arrests, verbal abuse, harassment, intimidation, beatings, and other forms of mistreatment defined as unwarranted or excessive use of force by law enforcement. 

If you’re ever in this kind of situation, it’s crucial to recognize the red flags as soon as possible. Letting the abuse continue without showing any sign of defiance or refusal is not keeping you any safer. Instead, it gives your abuser more power to control, mistreat, and look down on you. 

Below you’ll find some suggestions and ways that might help you in dealing with abuse by authority, whether at home, at work, or in any life circumstance: 

Speak Out

Keeping all the fear, pain, disgust, and anxiety, among other extreme emotions, to yourself won’t do you any good. What they do instead is to make you feel even smaller and helpless. If you don’t feel confident or safe exposing the mistreatment to people of authority (sometimes because you’ve already lost your trust in them), you can turn to your family and friends for comfort and security. 

Letting them know what you’re going through is one step closer to freeing yourself and speaking up from the abuse you’re dealing with. Just sharing the experience and what you’re feeling is already a great help to your mental and emotional health. 

Consider Seeking Legal Help

In some cases, speaking out won’t be enough to stop abuse by an authority figure. At this point, you’ll be facing one of the toughest decisions you’ll need to make as a victim—and that’s to decide to take necessary legal actions. Speaking to a lawyer can be of great help, especially if you’re dealing with people who can be quite intimidating or menacing.  

Another option to consider is to speak to social workers, the local police, or organizations that offer support. These people are also in authority in their own right and can make you feel safer if you’ll give them a chance. 

Look Into Counseling

Whether it’s verbal, physical, or emotional abuse you’ve been through, it can put a toll on your mental and psychological health. Even when the abuser has been addressed or called out, you may still go through mixed emotions, such as anxiety, depression, uncontrollable bouts of anger, disassociation, shame, mood issues, trust issues, and even self-destructive behavior. 

Speaking to a psychologist or therapist can significantly help you. These professionals are equipped to handle cases like yours. They may suggest mental health counseling and therapy to help you deal with such a traumatic experience. You can join support groups because, most of the time, speaking with people with the same experience as yours can prove to be and effective way to cope and move forward with life. 

It’s Not Your Fault, and it’s Not the End

As you process everything you’re going through, it’s important you know and tell yourself that none of these is your fault. The abuser did this to you, and you’re not to blame for any of it. It may be a harrowing experience to have, but it’s entirely up to you to end it all.  

Speak out. Consider seeking legal help, especially if you’re dealing with an abuser of a much higher authority. Look into counseling because what you’ve experienced is something traumatic, and you need all the help you can get to move on from it. It’s important to remind yourself this isn’t the end of your life or career. So much awaits you, and once you’ve reclaimed your power and authority, it’s time to get back to life and continue living it to the fullest.


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About the author

At Psych Times, we strive to help increase the awareness of mental health, to reduce the stigma of mental illness, and to provide our readers with high-quality content to help them cope with the stresses of everyday life.


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