These types of dreams are very strong and have very strong emotions attached to them. It can often be important to notice the person that is committing the abuse. If the person in the dream that is abusing you is someone that you know, then this usually means that you have feelings of being abused by this person. This could mean that you have literally been physically abused by them in the past, or it could mean that you are feeling as if you have been emotionally or verbally abused by them.
Sometimes physical abuse in dreams is not necessarily indicative of physical abuse in reality, but is a representation of other kinds of abuse such as verbal abuse. Also, it is entirely possible to see someone else being abused by another party while you are merely a witness. If you have witnessed abuse before, then this could be a recollection of those events from so long ago. However it could also be occurring between two parties that you believe are the victims or perpetrators of abuse. Having unsettling thoughts about a couple that you know, or about the attitude of a single person you are acquainted with? This might be a reason for dreams of abuse too.
Taking interpretation of these dream situations outside of the physical and typical means, dreaming of abuse could mean that you are feeling inferior and submissive to someone. This is usually to someone that you do not think that you should have to feel submissive to or someone that you do not actually want to be obligated to follow. A common figure to fill this role may be your boss at work (especially if your boss is much younger than you) which can lead to a lot of feelings of inferiority for you.
If you realize that you are the one that is abusing someone else in a dream then this usually means that you are being too hard on someone in real life. If the person you are being abusive to in the dream is someone you know, seek them out in the waking world and ask them for their honest opinion on the way you’ve been treating them. If the person in the dream is not someone you know, then you may just be generally abusive. You know that you have been a little too foul to someone in your life, and you are seeing a side of yourself that you did not know existed in your dreams. This is a possibility if you are currently in a situation where you are abusing someone, but these can also occur because of past regret that you may be feeling. It is hard to get rid of these dreams because it means you have unresolved issues from far back in your life, which can be very difficult to deal with in the future when the wounds don’t feel as fresh for the other person involved in the situation.
Sometimes seeing yourself as the abuser in your dreams does not mean that you abused someone in the past, but shows more of a general sense of remorse that you are trying to work with. It could be something entirely unrelated to abuse such as theft, or cheating on something. This just may show up as abuse in your dream, because the abuser is a more immediate embodiment of evil.