What Is Abuse?

Find out what abuse is, how to spot it and what to do about it…

The most important thing to remember is abuse is NEVER your fault

Abuse can come in many forms, but abusive actions all have the same thing in common: they cause a person harm and distress. Abuse may be something that you’ve suffered in the past or are experiencing now. You might suspect that a friend or family member is being abused. Let’s take a look at the most common types of abuse – and find out what you can do and how we can support you.

Emotional Abuse

Emotional abuse is when someone puts you down, belittles you, makes fun of you, shouts at you, ignores you or says things to make you feel bad about yourself. They might try to control you or put unreasonable boundaries on who you can and can’t speak to. It can feel very isolating and upsetting to be emotionally abused.


Neglect is when you are not being looked after properly and getting important things like enough food or clean clothes. Neglect can happen for all sorts of reasons – your parent/s or carer/s may be struggling with their mental health or have problems with drugs or alcohol, or there may be domestic abuse and because of all these things they may find it difficult to look after you properly. Whatever the reason, it is never OK and never your fault. 

Domestic Abuse and Violence

This is when abuse is happening within a home, most usually an adult threatening or hurting another adult. Domestic abuse and violence can be very frightening and upsetting for the people living in the home and can make you feel unsafe and anxious and sometimes worried about the adult that is being abused.

Physical Abuse

This is when someone deliberately hurts you, physically. Punching, hitting, kicking, biting or anything physically harmful, are all types of physical abuse. It is never acceptable for someone to physically abuse another person.

Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse is when a person forces or tricks you into doing something sexual. Sometimes children don’t know that it is sexual abuse because the person who does it is someone they love and trust. Sometimes children only realise as they get older. The most important thing to remember is that it’s never your fault and you are never responsible for something that someone else does to you.

There are many different ways in which someone could sexually abuse you:

  • Touching
  • Kissing
  • Sex
  • Someone showing you images or videos of a sexual nature
  • Grooming, including online
  • Sexting

Sexual abuse is extremely harmful and distressing. It can happen to both boys and girls, and the abuser can be a friend, partner, family member or a stranger. If you, or someone you know, is being abused, it’s important to tell an adult you trust to get help right away. You may feel frightened, anxious, ashamed or embarrassed, or feel that you were part of it in some way –  people who abuse children in this way are very clever and sometimes make the child feel they are responsible – but know that abuse of any kind is never your fault you are never responsible and there is help out there.

Getting Help

It’s important to get help if you’re being abused. It can be very scary to speak up and tell someone – you might feel embarrassed or ashamed but remember that this is not your fault. You have done nothing wrong.

Talk to an adult you trust to ask for help. This could be a family member, a teacher or a family friend. You might prefer to talk in confidence to a trained counsellor instead – you can call Childline on 0800 11 11. If you suspect someone you know is being abused, it’s important that you tell a trusted adult about your concerns to get more help.

Abuse can be incredibly difficult to speak about but it’s important that you do in order to get the help you need to put a stop to it. You don’t have to go through this alone, and

It’s never too late to speak up about abuse.

For more information on abuse and how to deal with it:

NSPCC https://www.nspcc.org.uk/what-is-child-abuse/


Related Posts

Download the App

Hidden strength the go – to, advice + support portal for 13 – 24 year olds designed to provide accessible and immediate support and chat-based therapy from qualified therapists to any young people who may be struggling with their mental wellbeing, completely for free.