What Is Abuse?


Amy’s finger was so swollen that she couldn’t get her ring off. She didn’t think her finger was broken because she could still bend it. It had been a week since her dad shoved her into the wall, but her finger still hurt a lot.


Amy hated the way her dad called her names and accused her of all sorts of things she didn’t do, especially after he had been drinking. It was the worst feeling and she just kept hoping he would stop.


Abuse can be physical, sexual, emotional, verbal, or a combination of any or all of these. Abuse can also be neglect, which is when parents or guardians don’t take care of the basic needs of the children who depend on them.


Physical abuse is often the most easily recognized form of abuse. Physical abuse can be any kind of hitting, shaking, burning, pinching, biting, choking, throwing, beating, and other actions that cause physical injury, leave marks, or cause pain.


Sexual abuse is any type of sexual contact between an adult and anyone younger than 18; between a significantly older child and a younger child; or if one person overpowers another, regardless of age. If a family member sexually abuses another family member, this is called incest.


Emotional abuse can be the most difficult to identify because there are usually no outward signs of the abuse. Emotional abuse happens when yelling and anger go too far or when parents constantly criticize, threaten, or dismiss kids or teens until their self-esteem and feelings of self-worth are damaged. Emotional abuse can hurt and cause damage just as physical abuse does.


Neglect is difficult to identify and define. Neglect occurs when a child or teen doesn’t have adequate food, housing, clothes, medical care, or supervision. Emotional neglect happens when a parent doesn’t provide enough emotional support or deliberately and consistently pays very little or no attention to a child. This doesn’t mean that a parent doesn’t give a kid something he or she wants, like a new computer or a cell phone, but refers to more basic needs like food, shelter, and love


Sexual Abuse

There are a number of things that can be difficult to talk about, things that feel scary or that might be out of your control, one of these things is sexual abuse.


Sexual abuse is when a young person is pressured, forced or tricked in to any sexual activity with an adult or another young person. This can include:


- Kissing

- Being touched sexually, for example, someone touching your private parts

- Being forced to touch yourself or someone else sexually

- Someone kissing your private parts

- Being forced to have sex

- Being made to watch other people have sex, or watch pornography


Sexual abuse can happen to both boys and girls. It can happen whether you’re young or old, gay or straight, and no matter where you’re from or what your cultural background is.


If someone is sexually abused it is NEVER their fault.


People that do this can be men or women, young or old, the same sex as you and from any cultural background. Children and young people can be sexually abused by strangers and by people they know and love, including members of their family.


Abuse from adults

There are many different reasons why an adult may try to sexually abuse a young person.


A small number of adults are ‘paedophiles’. This means they would rather have sex with children and young people and target them for abuse.


Others adults don’t care who they have sex with but think children and young people are easier to pressure, force or trick into sex.

Abuse from others

It is more likely for a young person to be sexually abused by someone that they know – perhaps someone that they love and trust. However the internet has made it easier for abusers to target young people for sex, which means its really important to be careful if you talk to strangers online.


Whether a young person is being abused by someone that they know – like a member of their family – or someone that they don’t know very well – like someone they met in a chatroom or who followed them on Twitter – it is always wrong and never their fault.


Nobody has the right to sexually abuse you. There are people out there who care and who can help make it stop.


Sexual abuse can be really difficult to talk about. Whether it’s happening now or happened in the past there are people out there who understand and are there for you. If you would prefer to talk to somebody in the Academy, you can speak to a member of the Student Development Team using the reporting form. If you are not comfortable talking to somebody inside the academy, you can contact Childline.


Discover how 14 year old Lauren helps her friend Chloe when she is used by her ‘boyfriend’. Speak to your teacher about watching the full film in school.

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