A guide for young people Abuse

Abuse is always wrong and it can be very difficult to talk about but you’re never alone. If you’re worried about abuse, find out what it is and who can help you.

What is abuse?

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. If you tell someone, they can help to make it stop.

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, shouting or writing horrible things

  • Neglect

    Not being looked after and kept healthy

  • Child sexual abuse

    Being touched where you shouldn’t be or forced to take part in sexual activity

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 for you to 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 when 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. They can spot if you are at risk of developing any of these problems and will be able to help you.

How to speak to your GP

Getting 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 are in immediate danger call 999.

If you feel you can’t talk to people you already know, here are some services run by professionals who will know how to help you.