What is abuse?
There are different types of abuse.
- Physical: being hurt by someone for no reason
- Mental: being treated badly, such as consistently being ignored
- Verbal: saying or shouting or writing horrible things
- Neglect: not being looked after and kept healthy
- Child sexual abuse: touched where you shouldn’t be or forced to take part in sexual activity
Abuse is often about power and the person who abuses you uses that power to get you to do things you don’t want to do. It is hurtful either mentally or physically. Sexual abuse includes being touched, kissed or forced to have sex against your will and often by someone older than you.
Abuse isn’t always carried out by a stranger and can be someone you know, which can makes it feel hard to speak out about. Because they are known to you, if your family or others close to you don’t know about the abuse they will think it is safe to leave you with this person. This is why they need to know as soon as possible.
Abuse is always wrong and if you tell someone they can help to make it stop.
Why you must get help
Abuse is always wrong and must be stopped. Apart from being horrible while it is happening it can affect your life. Speaking out as soon as you can makes it less likely you will have problems later.
If you have been abused you may:
- Be wary of adults
- Be aggressive
- Have difficulty concentrating
- Find it hard to trust people
- Have problems developing relationships
- Do worse at school
- Develop an eating disorder
- Have poor sexual relationships in the future
- Have low self-esteem, become depressed or anxious
- Be vulnerable to self-harm
Having one or more of these issues isn’t necessarily the result of abuse. They can be caused by a number of things. But if you know you have suffered abuse you should talk to your GP who can spot if you are at risk of developing any of these problems and will be able to help you.
Where you can find help
Take the first step – you have to tell someone. Start with your family but if the abuser is known to them you might want to speak to someone else you trust like a teacher or your GP. Even if your GP knows this person they will be able to help you and they won’t break your confidence.
If you feel you can’t talk to people you already know, call ChildLine on 0800 1111 which is run by professionals who will know how to help you.
If you are in immediate danger call 999.