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Abuse is any action taken by another person that causes harm or distress. This can be physical or mental. Find details below of the different kinds of abuse, and don't forget to speak to someone if you think you are being abused or may be at risk.

Physical Abuse

Physical abuse is when someone deliberately hurts you. This could be with their hands, feet or by using an object or weapon to cause pain. This could include: hitting, kicking, biting, burning, throwing, shaking, slapping, hair pulling or making you swallow something you don't want to.

No one has the right to hurt you. Physical abuse can take place once or over a long period of time. It is not right and you need to tell someone.

Emotional Abuse

Emotional abuse includes:

  • Constantly criticising someone, name calling, telling them they are fat, ugly, stupid, lazy or worthless
  • Humiliating someone or embarrassing them in front of others
  • Never saying anything nice or showing affection
  • Controlling someone, always telling someone what they should do, what they should wear, where they should go, even what to think and feel

Emotional abuse is wrong and never your fault.

Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse is when someone is pressurised, forced, tricked or intimidated into taking part in any kind of sexual activity with an adult or another young person. This can include kissing, touching the young person's genitals (private parts) or breasts, intercourse or oral sex, looking or taking part in pornography or being pressured not to use contraception. It can happen to anyone - boys and girls.

If you are being sexually abused it's not your fault and you're not alone - tell someone.

Child Sexual Exploitation

Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) is a form of sexual abuse. It involves perpetrators grooming their victims in various ways, such as in person, via mobiles or online to gain their trust before emotionally and sexually abusing them for their own gain. The victim will be tricked into believing they are in a loving relationship.

More information about child sexual exploitation.

Relationship Abuse

Abuse is not normal and never ok. If you are in a relationship with someone, you should feel loved, safe, respected and free to be yourself. There are different forms of abuse which you can find out about here, but if your relationship leaves you feeling scared, intimidated or controlled, it's possible you are in an abusive relationship.


Neglect is when the people who are supposed to be looking after you such as your parents or carers (including foster carers and family friends) don't take care of you or provide you with the things you need. They may also make it hard for you to take care of yourself. This is neglect.

Neglect could include:

  • Frequently going hungry
  • Having to go to school in dirty clothes
  • Not being taken to the doctors when you are ill
  • Being left at home regularly and for long periods of time
  • Living in dangerous, possibly violent surroundings with drugs or alcohol around

Domestic abuse at home

Domestic abuse is when a grown up threatens another grown up in the family. Domestic abuse can be between married couples, parents, boyfriends and girlfriends or same sex couples.

Domestic abuse can happen to anyone. Even though the violence may not be aimed at you, you may witness it or hear the shouting and fighting regularly.