Abuse just means "mis-use". I can abuse my expensive cultery by mis-using it to chop concrete. I can abuse my washing machine by mis-using it to wash truck parts. And I can abuse my children by mis-using them in ways God never intended. Mis-use means using something for a purpose for which it was not created or never meant to be used.
In the context of Quivering Daughters, we are speaking of abuse/mis-use of authority and it's consequences. The Bible tells us who has authority and what it's use is in those contexts. Anthing outside of that use is mis-use of that authority. Look at the verses specifically to men in the context of family. Their "authority" is not all-encompassing. Matter of fact, it's on a pretty short leash. There are only two things for which I see God giving "authority" to husbands/fathers: they are to love and sacrifice for their wives, and they are to nurture and raise their kids in the Lord, not provoking or discouraging (Eph. 5:25; 6:4; Col. 3:21). That's it, folks. Any other claims of "authority" are bogus in God's eyes. They are a mis-use of authority.
People were created for God. Isn't that the crux of the famous answer to the question "why am I here?": "to glorify God and enjoy Him forever?" We have a purpose and it has nothing to do with furthering men's ambitions. Our purpose is relationship with God, and showing others the importance of relationship with God. Children are people too. They also have a purpose. When they are aquired and used to further the visions of men, their purpose is not being used correctly. The authority of the ones who have been given the care of these precious souls is being mis-used. Because, remember, that authority is only to raise and nurture them, while not provoking or discouraging them. I would also add that verses like the Golden Rule and "be kind to one-another" apply to how we raise our little people and treat our adult children as well.
It is a mis-use of authority to require offspring to stay home and further the "visions" of their fathers instead of sending them out to become ambassadors for Jesus. This is abuse.
It is a mis-use of authority to tell offspring that they will go to hell if they refuse to follow the commandments of a man. This is abuse.
It is a mis-use of authority to preach a performance-based gospel to your children. This is abuse.
It is a mis-use of authority to break your child's wiil, or withhold love and affection until they perform according to your standards. This is abuse.
It is a mis-use of authority to kick a daughter out of your home because she wants to go to college, have a job, or otherwise doesn't agree with your plan for her life. This is abuse.
It is mis-use of authority to use threats of God's judgment, threats of never seeing their siblings again, or threats of a ruined life in order to control their behavior. This is abuse.
I could go on. But I think I've made my point. Remember, my criteriae for mis-use of parental authority come straight from the Bible. None of the above can fit under "be imitators of God" or "raise your children in the nurture and instruction of the Lord; do not provoke, but encourage them" etc., not to mention all the "one-another" verses that pertain to how we are to treat fellow children of God.
As I've said before:
"...are we making a big deal out of nothing? Have we made ourselves into victims, casting blame on well-meaning parents and spiritual leaders, not "owning up" to our mistakes or claiming responsibility for our own problems and sins? After all, there is REAL abuse out there...just look at all the shelters for battered women. But as all counselors will tell you, abuse takes many forms. It is unfortunate that the Body of Christ seems to place more importance and validity on the kind of abuse that endangers the body while neglecting the kind that endangers the soul.
Just because spiritual and emotional abuse is subtle and often unseen except by the victims, doesn't mean that it is less important than physical abuse that can be seen. Who are you to look at someone who is hurting and tell them that their pain isn't as important as another's? To look at the girl who wonders if she has any value in God's eyes and tell her "Well, buck up, take responsibility for your life, and be thankful you weren't beaten"? How are bruises on the body worse than bruises on the soul?
I refuse to play the my-problems-are-worse-than-your-problems game. Pain is pain. It hurts, it debilitates, it affects every area of our lives. Anyone who lives with chronic physical pain can tell you this. And those who struggle with spiritual pain know all too well. May I even suggest that wounded spirits have far more profound impacts on people's lives than wounded bodies? Perhaps because a heart that is whole can live a beautiful life even in a body that is broken. But it doesn't really work the other way around."
Do not further the wounds of people's hearts just because you don't think they're "bad enough". On the outside, the person with internal injuries looks a lot better than the one whose arm was sliced and bleeding. But which injury is actually worse? Does it even matter? Both are injuries that need healing, both can be fatal. One just looks worse and more obvious than the other.
For further reading on this topic: Abusing Abuse? Part 1; Abusing Abuse? Part 2.