You may have heard the saying, “Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely” (a phrase used by 19th century British politician Lord Acton). It seems to be the nature of mankind that power tends to corrupt, and powerful individuals and groups will always be susceptible to corruption. Abuses of power great and small have occurred since the beginning of time, and the 21st century is no exception.
ABUSE OF POWER occurs in many forms, subtle and blatant, verbal and physical, hidden and observable. The Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines abuse as:
- a corrupt practice, custom, or action
- improper or excessive use or treatment
- language that condemns or vilifies usually unjustly, intemperately, and angrily; verbal abuse
- physical maltreatment
- a deceitful act or deception
Power is defined as:
- legal or official authority, capacity, or right
- possession of control, authority, or influence over others
- a controlling group or establishment —often used in the phrase “the powers that be”
- physical might
- mental or moral efficacy
- political control or influence
ABUSE OF POWER occurs when someone uses their position of power or authority in an abusive way, in order to take advantage, manipulate, harm, or punish.
ABUSE OF POWER often occurs where an individual or group is in a position of power or authority over a vulnerable individual or group.
- susceptible to physical or emotional attack or harm
- helpless, defenseless, powerless, weak
- in need of special care, support, or protection because of age, disability, or risk of abuse or neglect
What makes ABUSE OF POWER so insidious is that the individual or group in power already possesses a level of control by the sheer nature of their position of power and uses that power to maintain control, gain additional power, or harm those who are already vulnerable. Those that abuse their power are often completely unchecked in their abuses and their exertion of control.
ABUSE OF POWER includes the blatant, aggressive, and extensive abusive acts by tyrannical dictators (think Bashad al-Assad of Syria, Hitler, Stalin, Idi Amin, Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez, and the like). It also includes judicial abuses and misconduct, such as when a judge accepts a bribe in exchange for a particular ruling, exhibits bias and hostility toward an individual or group, or illegally suppresses evidence in a trial. ABUSE OF POWER includes actions by the government or its agencies that limit or deny religious freedoms, free speech, or other constitutional rights and basic human rights. ABUSE OF POWER also includes law enforcement abuses and interpersonal abuses such as sexual abuse or harassment in the work place, as well as spousal and child abuse.
At AbuseOfPower.org, we seek to expose abuses of power wherever they are occurring, advocate for the abused, and pursue change to ensure religious liberties, defend the unborn, work toward judicial reform and prosecutorial integrity, and protect human rights.