Although abuse certainly is not limited to the poor, nonetheless incidents of abuse -- physical and sexual, child and spousal -- are higher in situations of poverty. There are several contributory reasons for this.
Certainly, incidents of abuse multiply where there is stress, and, when one is pushed to the level of survival by the economic situations in which they find themselves, then there is a concomitant increase of stress. Disenfranchized and alienated neighborhoods, accompanied by a lack of safety and generalized despair, tend to proliferate in areas of poverty.
Poverty is an abuse of the human spirit. Abuse of the human spirit is the most pervasive and insidious abuse of them all. Spiritual abuse, then, establishes an environment that normalizes other kinds of abuse.
Where poverty is associated with an oppressive political system, then abuse of the spirit can become systematized. In this case, it is difficult to tell the victims from the perpetrators. Systematized abuse often involves the unreflective participation of unaware citizens on all levels. Those most acutely aware of their victimization, of course, are the poor. Those who profit from economic disparity often are the most entrenched, firmly blocking out awareness. Nonetheless, their denial is a toxic force, no matter how unwitting. This is enforced by a mental model of scarcity, holding in check the abundance thinking that could indeed be liberating.