Dictionary.com defines 'terrorism' as:
"The unlawful use or threatened use of force or violence by a person or an organized group against people or property with the intention of intimidating or coercing societies or governments, often for ideological or political reasons."
Amazing I actually agree with your use of the word terrorism. According to the dictionary quote above the only part that does not fit is that it seems to refer to groups of people rather than individuals. In most of my research on abuse, the dysfunctional nature of abuse exists on individual/personal levels as well as group levels all the way up to cultural/national levels. The mechanisms are the same. The dynamics are the same and the effects are the same.
I too as a child experienced a lot of abuse. Whether it was to me directly or to a sibling whom I was trying to protect, the effect of threats of violence to gain a desired goal (whether that is freedom or sex or anything else) is to intimidate the victim into surrendering.
I had a father and step-father who used threats of harm to siblings to get me to comply with his wishes. I had a mother who used the threat of abandonment and foster homes to get me to comply with her wishes. I had a father who killed my pets and told me that if I did not do what was expected (sexual abuse) the same would happen to me. I had a step-father who used threats of sexually abusing my little sister to force me into sexual acts. I had a husband who used the threat of adultery and blood-guilt to force me into unwanted sexual acts.
One thing they all had in common was the threat of violence if I talked to anyone about the abuse. When I took my father to court for sexual abuse he stopped me on the courthouse steps as we were leaving and said "If I ever see you again I will kill you". Yup same man who forced me to watch while he killed my kittens.
A few years ago I was reading an article about POWs and the kinds of torture they are submitted to. Many of those techniques were used in our home to get our compliance and maintain our silence. It was this article that helped me to realize that I grew up as a terrorized and tortured child. Sounds dramatic doesn't it. Thing is I don't like to dramatize it. I most often prefer to believe it wasn't that bad. Some how if I can say it wasn't that bad (after all I am here aren't I?) then maybe I don't have to deal with just how bad it really was. Maybe I am just remembering it wrong or just like attention so make it worse. Wish that was the case. If anything I still prefer to downplay how bad it was.
Unless one lives in that world of perpetual fear and intimidation they cannot possibly understand the terror in the child.
Granted some perpetrators use kindness to get what they want. But still, there is the fear of getting caught, of telling, of someone finding out, of shame, of being guilty. Silence always makes it worse. And it is this element of silence - the intense need the abuser has for no one to find out, that is so destructive to the victim and what permits the abuser to continue his terrorism on his victims.
The best way to stop an abuser is to tell the truth. The best way to protect the victim is to allow him/her to tell the truth.
The best way to protect an abuser is to remain silent.
Rejoice in the healing and not in the pain.
Rejoice in the challenge overcome and not in the past hurts.
Rejoice in the present - full of love and joy.
Rejoice in the future for it is filled with new horizons yet to be explored. - Lee Marsh 2002