Duhaime's Law Dictionary Abuse Definition: Physical or nonphysical misuse or maltreatment or use or treatment so as to injure, hurt, or damage. Related Terms: Sexual Abuse, Abuse of Discretion, Abuse of Dominant Position, Abuse of Process In Estrada-Epinoza, in quoting from several past cases, Justice Thomas reiterated the definition of abuse as: "... physical or nonphysical misuse or maltreatment or use or treatment so as to injure, hurt, or damage." Note that this excludes accidental occurrences. Conduct that may or may not constitute abuse is most often dependent on the circumstances and in many cases, a statutory or contractual definition. In McAuliffe v. Northern Insurance Company of NY, in the context of liability insurance, a priest's cultivation of a sexual relationship with a parishioner he was counseling was considered to be abuse. In People of the State of Colorado v. In the Interest of D. A. K, Justice Carrigan of the Supreme Court of Colorado wrote: "(T)he general term abuse (must) include emotional abuse as well as physical abuse, for a narrow restriction of the term to physical abuse would frustrate the legislative purpose to protect and secure the welfare of children." In Hearns v. District of Columbia Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, the Court took the view that in the context of an adult care facility, aggressive talking to a patient and pulling the senior by the arm constituted abuse. REFERENCES Estrada-Espinoza v. Mukasey, 546 F. 3d 1147 (United States Court of Appeals, 2008) Hearns v. District of Columbia Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, 704 A. 2d 1181 McAuliffe v. Northern Ins. Co. of NY, 69 F. 3d 277 (United States Court of Appeals, 1995) People of the State of Colorado v. In the Interest of D. A. K, 596 P. 2d 747 (1979) Categories & Topics: Duhaime's Criminal Law Dictionary Duhaime's Insurance Law Dictionary Duhaime's Tort and Personal Injury Law Dictionary Always looking up definitions? Save time with our search provider (modern browsers only) If you find an error or omission in Duhaime's Law Dictionary, or if you have suggestion for a legal term, we'd love to hear from you!