Researched Works

Abuse and Human Rights in Intimate Relationships

In a romantic and sexual dyad, not only does familiarity breed contempt, it can also lead to abuse. What rights do people have in intimate relationships?

All social institutions - the family, the community, the church, the government, and the workplace - have witnessed human rights abuses between and among people. Staunch feminists attribute these situations to a culture beset with patriarchal beliefs and practices. Even artificial technology is used to perpetuate human rights abuse. Worst, abuses on a broader scale start with the basic social unit - the dyad.

Sociologically, the dyad pertains to two people in different levels of social relationship, ranging from best-friends-forever (BFF) pair to impersonal employer-employee interaction. But when it comes to abuses, a romantic and sexual dyad serves as a haven. What drives a lover to become abusive?

Studies show that many abusers feel insecure about themselves and could have been previously abused as well. Sadly, they see a blurred border between loving and controlling their partner. More sadly, they refuse to admit that they have a problem and reject any advice about seeking professional help to address personal issues.

Human rights abuses in intimate relationships can be in form of physical violence and sexual attacks such as wife/husband battery and marital rape. Emotional and verbal slaps contribute to psychological or mental abuse. This can happen when a man or a woman publicly humiliates his/her lover, or deliberately gives her/him deafening silent treatment. Economic abuse is also devoid of human compassion, especially when either of the two parties controls household resources. The income-earner can consciously withhold any financial support to the family as a way of imposing that power and further punishing the abused.

To help curb human rights abuses, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) was issued by the United Nations (UN) in 1948. The UDHR states that: "All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights...Everyone has the right to life, liberty, and security of person...No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment."

In the context of intimate relationships, Exit Support Network posts the following list of rights:

Moreover, everyone has the right to love and be loved well, to seek and experience happiness, and to have a meaningful life and live it without fear.


Author unknown. n.d. Characteristics of Abusers. (accessed November 23, 2010.)

Carver, Joseph M. n.d. Love and Stockhold Syndrome: The Mystery of Loving an Abuser. (accessed November 23, 2010).

Corinna, Heather. 2007. "Blinders Off: Getting a Good Look at Abuse and Assault". S.E.X.: The All-You-Need-to-Know Progressive Sexuality Guide to Get You Through High School and College. (accessed November 23, 2010.)

Lowenthal, Barbara. n.d. Child Maltreatment: Effect of Learning and Development. (accessed November 23, 2010).

Written by Leann Zarah (

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