What is abuse?
There are different types of abuse.
- Physical: being hurt by someone for no reason
- Mental or emotional: being treated badly, such as consistently being ignored or criticised
- 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 make 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
- Find it hard to trust people
- Have problems developing relationships
- Have difficulty concentrating
- Find that you are more irritable or emotional
- Do worse at school
- Have difficulties with trust entering 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.
Helplines and services available
- If you're under 19 you can confidentially call, email or chat online about any problem big or small
- Freephone 24h helpline: 0800 1111
- Sign up for a childline account on the website to be able to message a counsellor anytime without using your email address
- Chat 1:1 with an online advisor
- If you've witnessed or been a victim of a crime, you can talk to Victim Support on their free and confidential helpline.
- Support line: 0808 1689 111
- Email using the online contact form
- A place for you to get advice and information about counselling in the UK, if you're aged 12-25.
- If you're under 25 you can talk to The Mix for free on the phone, by email or on their webchat. You can also use their phone counselling service, or get more information on support services you might need.
- Freephone: 0808 808 4994 (13:00-23:00 daily)