Recognizing Abuse


Abuse is a widespread problem affecting many adolescents and teenagers today.  A report of child abuse is made every ten seconds. Abuse can come from family, friends, and even mentors.  Because abused children are more likely to develop psychological disorder later on in life, it is important to recognize the different forms of abuse and take action to prevent them.



The most common forms include:

1) Physical Abuse: intentional and unwanted contact with your body.  Some examples are:

  • pulling hair
  • pushing, grabbing
  • hitting, whipping
  • smacking, slapping
  • using force to prevent you from leaving
  • throwing objects at you


2) Verbal/Emotional Abuse:  non-physical behaviors which can leave lifelong emotional pains and scars.  This abuse can be hard to recognize sometimes.  Victims may even believe what the abuser says about them and lose their confidence and self-esteem. Some examples are:

  • calling names or putting you down
  • yelling and screaming at you repeatedly
  • intentionally embarrassing you in public
  • constantly monitoring, texting and stalking you
  • threatening, intimidating, insulting, or giving you ultimatums
  • starting rumors/gossip about you
  • telling you what to do, wear, think
  • blaming your actions for their abusive behavior
  • threatening to expose your secrets


3) Sexual Abuse: any action that pressures someone to engage in sexual acts.   It is especially hard for children to tell someone about sexual abuse as they may feel ashamed or uncomfortable to talk to an adult about it.  Both men and women can be victims or perpetrators of sexual abuse.  Sexual abuse can occur between two complete strangers or two persons who know each other.  Some examples are:

  • unwanted touching/kissing
  • rape or attempted rape
  • using alcohol or drugs to make you more vulnerable
  • keeping you from using contraception
  • unwanted rough or violent acts, even during consensual sex


Common myths about abuse

Many cases of child abuse go unreported or are handled poorly because of these common myths surrounding abuse:

  • Parents have the right to discipline their children in their own way.
  • Boys do not get sexually abused; only girls do.
  • People who sexually abuse children have mental disorders.
  • The victim deserves the abuse because he/she made the abuser mad.
  • The victim did not resist or say no, so it is not really abuse.
  • The abuser loves the victim; no real harm was intended.
  • Verbal abuse is not as bad as physical or sexual abuse.


When it comes to abuse, remember that it is NEVER the victim’s fault.



What to do

  • Report the abuse to a trusted adult who can seek help.
  • Report the abuse directly to the police.
  • Go to an emergency room or health clinic to inspect any injuries immediately.
  • Call or visit the abuse-reporting website according to the state you live in: