Abuse can take many forms including: threats, harassment, physical attacks, financial control, sexual and emotional abuse. We all have the right to live without fear of violence and abuse. You deserve to be treated with care and respect.

If something happens so often you get used to it that it becomes part of normal life, that makes it hard to understand that what is happening is wrong.

This can include being brought up in a violent environment or being in a situation where abuse has been going on for a long time. It can often be from a member of your family, a family friend or another adult who has the opportunity from time to time. This might be a teacher, youth leader, religious leader, or scout leader for instance.

Sometimes the person who’s abusing you might be trying very hard to make you believe that it’s your fault, so that you don’t try and get help for what’s going on. They may threaten you with something awful if you tell anyone. You might not want to tell anyone because you are afraid of what will happen to you, or because you don't want someone else to get into trouble, even the person who is abusing you. If it is happening within a dating relationship with your boyfriend or girlfriend, you may be afraid of losing them.

But you shouldn't put up with abuse whoever is doing it to you. All of these people who might be abusers are in positions of trust, where they ought to be looking after you or helping you, not exploiting you, and if they do it once, they often do it again and again. And maybe not just to you. 

Whichever way you are being abused, it can leave you feeling

No one has the right to make you feel this way - this is wrong.  If you’re being hurt, exploited or made to feel bad, you don’t have to put up with it and it’s the person who’s doing it to you who needs to change.

ChidLine help you understand more about what forms abuse can take and how you can be helped. They have information and help for all kinds of abuse:

Almost 30,000 young people contacted ChildLine about physical abuse from April 2011 – March 2012. Physical abuse is when someone deliberately hurts or injures you. Hitting, kicking, hair pulling, beating with objects, throwing and shaking are all forms of physical abuse, and can cause pain, cuts, bruising, broken bones and sometimes even death. No one has the right to hurt you in this way. Physical abuse can happen as a single event or over a longer period of time.

Sexual abuse is when a child or young person is pressurised, forced, tricked or coerced 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. If someone touches themselves in a sexual way in front of you, or if they want you to touch yourself sexually in front of them, that's still sexual abuse. You are being sexually abused if someone makes you look at sexual material such as photos or films. It can happen to anyone – boys and girls. Sexual abuse by a female is not often talked about, but actually it is more common than you might think. Sexual abuse by anyone, male or female, is wrong. If you are being sexually abused it's not your fault and you're not alone.

If you have been sexually abused, talk to Childline. You can also contact Lifecentre under-18s free helpline on 0808 802 0808, text or e-mail. They say "one in five children experiences sexual abuse before they are 18...a quarter of children who have been abused are too afraid to tell someone what is happening to them. If you would like to talk to someone about something that is happening to you or you are worried about a friend contact us". Its aim is: Unlocking the past, surviving the present, and reclaiming the future.

Are you being humiliated or emotionally abused?  

 Emotional abuse is when someone says or does something that makes you feel bad about yourself, or that hurts your feelings. Emotional abuse can be difficult to explain but it’s the way that it makes you feel that is important. If the way someone treats you and what they say and do to you makes you scared, sad or upset – that’s emotional abuse.

Neglect is when you are not being looked after or supported properly by your parents or carers (including foster parents or care staff, if you are in care). Read ChildLine explaining how to know if you are being neglected by being denied the proper care you need in terms of things like food, drink, warmth, comfort or safety or stopped from getting them yourself, but in many other ways you might not have thought of as being neglect. Here is a video from Childine in which kids and teens talk about what they actually need from whoever is supposed to be caring for them:

    

You can talk to Childline anytime about all kinds of abuse.

You can contact Eighteen and under, a registered charity based in Dundee that offers confidential support and information to any young person aged 18 and under who has experienced sexual, physical or emotional abuse. Contact their free helpline on 0800 731 40 80 or by e-mail or chatboard.

If you want to report child abuse happening to you or someone else, call the NSPCC. If you want to know what happens if you do, find out in this video:

Or tell an adult you trust, maybe a teacher. They, or you, can call Social Services on 0345 045 5203, 8am-6pm, Monday-Friday. For out-of-hours emergencies call 01733 234724. It is their job to make sure you are safe. 

If the abuse is happening at home, you can also read domestic violence and abuse. If the person being abused has learning difficulties, Respond can lessen the effect of trauma and abuse on people with learning disabilities their families and supporters. And if you are worried about someone else being abused, don't just worry, do something! Get in touch with any of the organisations we've mentioned and tell them. If you don't know what to do or who to tell, call Childline.

If it is happening because your family are trying to make you conform to a culture or religion you don't want to, Cultural Differences tells you what to do and where to get help. 

The page was last updated on 12 June 2014 by andrea.bateman.

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