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What is physical abuse?

Updated: Dec 7, 2023

What is abuse?

Abuse is any action that intentionally harms or injures another person. The four main types of abuse are physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, neglect.

What is physical abuse?

Physical abuse is deliberately hurting another person - a child, young person, adult. The person may experience violence such as:

  • being hit

  • being kicked

  • being burned

  • being slapped

  • having objects thrown at them

  • being given medicine from a parent, even though the person is not sick

  • being shook - as a baby, which causes serious head injuries

Signs of physical abuse on a young person and the impact on their physical health may include:

  • bruises all over their body

  • bite marks on their body

  • head injuries like skull or facial fractures

  • burn marks from hot liquids

  • unable to make eye contact with adults

  • jump/flinch at quick actions of someone else moving

  • an inappropriate response to pain

The impact of physical abuse on a young person's emotional health include:

  • suffering from anxiety - as not sure what they did to deserve the abuse/attack

  • unable to sleep - wondering when the abuse may happen again

  • obsessive behaviour - as the young person tries to control what they can

  • low self-esteem - as the young person feels they deserve this abuse

  • depression - as the young person is so unhappy and cannot see a way to change what is happening to them

  • bullying others - as the young person wants someone else to feel the pain that they have

What can a young person do if they are suffering physical abuse?

  • Tell someone what has been happening - this could be a parent/guardian, a friend, a teacher in school. They will understand and be able to find help.

  • Consider talking to someone at an organisation that can give advice and help with the physical abuse such as:

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