Glossary of Abuse Terminology

We are adding to our glossary over time. Please get in touch if you are searching for a term that is not listed here.

A-Z Index of Abuse Terminology


1. An act or practice of avoiding or withdrawing from something. (Merriam-Webster)

2. The practice or an instance of keeping away from particular situations, environments, individuals, or things because of either:

 (a) the anticipated negative consequence of such an encounter or

(b) anxious or painful feelings associated with them. (American Psychological Association)

Blame Shifting

To make someone else responsible for something you should do or something bad that you have done (Oxford Learner’s Dictionaries)


The limit of what someone considers to be acceptable behaviour (Cambridge Dictionary)


To treasure – to hold or treat something as dear and often loved.

The word implies a deep and active appreciation of the person or thing that’s cherished. (

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Among emotion researchers, compassion is defined as the feeling that arises when you are confronted with another’s suffering and feel motivated to relieve that suffering. (Greater Good Magazine – Berkeley University of California)



The free and voluntary agreement to participate in an activity which may include an intimate or sexual relationship given by a person with the cognitive capacity to do so.

Consent is not freely and voluntarily given if the person is:

  • Under force;
  • Unconscious or asleep;
  • Under the influence of drugs or alcohol;
  • Under threat or intimidation;
  • ​In fear of bodily harm;
  • Subjected to the exercise of authority;
  • Under false or fraudulent representations about the nature or purpose of the act, or
  • Under a mistaken belief that the offender was someone else (for example, their sexual partner).

(James Cook University)



A result of a particular action or situation, often one that is bad or not convenient (Cambridge Dictionary)



Pressure, especially actual or threatened physical force, put on a person to act in a particular way. (Cornell University Law School)

Emotional Abuse

A pattern of behavior in which the perpetrator insults, humiliates, and generally instills fear in an individual in order to control them. (Psychology Today)


The ability to share someone else’s feelings or experiences by imagining what it would be like to be in that person’s situation. (Cambridge Dictionary)


The feeling that you have the right to do or have what you want without having to work for it or deserve it, just because of who you are. (Cambridge Dictionary)



A conscious, deliberate decision to release feelings of resentment or vengeance toward a person or group who has harmed you, regardless of whether they actually deserve your forgiveness (Greater Good Magazine – Berkeley)

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To trick or control someone by making them believe that their memories or beliefs about something are wrong, especially by suggesting that they may be mentally ill (Cambridge Dictionary)



Having or showing a kind and quiet nature: not harsh or violent (Britannica Dictionary)


Free from harshness, sternness, or violence (Merriam-Webster)


The feeling or attitude that you have no special importance that makes you better than others; lack of pride (Cambridge Dictionary)

(See Narcissism)



To look forward to with desire and reasonable confidence (



Extreme or excessive vigilancethe state of being highly or abnormally alert to potential danger or threat (Merriam-Webster)

Institutional Abuse

Abuse that occurs within the context of an institution such as a care facility, club, or school. It generally refers to abuse perpetrated against clients of the institution, especially those who are vulnerable such as children, the elderly, or people with disabilities. (The Abigail Project) See The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.


To cause a person or organisation to lose their friends or supporters (Collins Dictionary)


A feeling of unhappiness and anger because someone has something or someone that you want (Cambridge Dictionary)


The quality of being generous, helpful, and caring about other people, or an act showing this quality (The Cambridge Dictionary)

Love Bombing

The act of showing someone a lot of love or positive attention in order to make them do what you want (Cambridge Dictionary)


Compassionate treatment of those in distress. (Merriam-Webster)


Entitled self-importance (Krizan & Herlache, 2017 or try here)

Having too much interest in and admiration for yourself (The Cambridge Dictionary)


Narcissistic Personality Disorder

Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is a pattern of grandiosity, need for admiration, and lack of empathy per the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM–5) (USA National Library of Medicine)



A disingenuous or insufficient apology: a statement that is offered as an apology but that fails to express true regret or to take responsibility for having done or said something wrong (Merriam-Webster)

Organisational Abuse

When the culture, policy, or practices of an organisation perpetuate abuse. For example, against its representatives, members, or clients. (The Abigail Project)

See Institutional Abuse


The ability to wait, or to continue doing something despite difficulties, or to suffer without complaining or becoming annoyed (Cambridge Dictionary)


To feel such sorrow for sin or fault as to be disposed to change one’s life for the better; be penitent. (



To act in a way which shows that you are aware of someone’s rights, wishes, etc. (The Britannica Dictionary)


To prevent someone from expressing their views or from criticizing or opposing someone (Cambridge Dictionary)

Turn the tables

1. To reverse completely a situation as it affects two opposing persons or groups

2. To cause a reversal of an existing situation, esp. with regard to gaining the upper hand over a competitor, rival, antagonist, etc. (Collins Dictionary)

Victim Blaming

The practice of saying or implying that a person who has suffered harm or injury is responsible for it, rather than the person who caused the harm or injury (Oxford Learner’s Dictionaries)

Walk on Eggshells

To be very careful about what you say or do to someone because they are easily upset or offended (Collins Dictionary)

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