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What is Abuse?

In general, there are several different types of abuse that can occur. They are all harmful to the development of a normal, happy, and healthy child and can cause difficulties that continue into adulthood. The child is NEVER to blame for the abuse- it is ALWAYS the responsibility of the adult who is supposed to be caring for and protecting the child. It does not matter if you were a loud child or were misbehaving or were an unexpected pregnancy. It is always the responsibility and fault of the child!

The types of abuse are detailed below and include physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, neglect, and abandonment.

Physical Abuse

Physical Abuse is intentional harm to another person and includes things like hitting, kicking, pinching, slapping and choking. This does not include an accidental injury to your child, but rather something that is done with intention. It is often done during an anger outburst, but not always. Signs of physical abuse are:

  • unexplained bruising

  • broken bones

  • rope marks

  • burns

  • frequently wearing clothing that covers arms & neck especially when not appropriate for the weather

  • broken glasses

  • frequent ER visits

  • bite marks

Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse includes any unwanted sexual activity and includes things such as sexualized touching, rape, sodomy, or the taking of explicit photos. This also includes any sexual activity on a child who is too young to consent or anyone who is incapacitated due to a medical issue or substance use. Signs of sexual abuse include:

  • bruising by genitals

  • blood found in undergarments or bleeding from the genital area

  • sexually transmitted diseases

  • pregnancy

  • acting in overly sexual ways or sexually acting out

  • talking in an overly sexual manner

Emotional Abuse

Emotional abuse is the intentional and repeated infliction of emotional pain and is also known as psychological abuse. It includes things such as criticism, name-calling, threatening the child, humiliating, or embarrassing them, scaring the child, making them the subject of jokes, controlling them, pushing the child too hard to achieve, not allowing him or her their individuality, or exposing the child to upsetting events such as domestic violence. Don’t forget that this is a pattern of behavior that occurs repeatedly over time and is not a single or isolated incident. Emotional abuse often will occur along with other types of abuse. Signs of emotional abuse include:

  • lack of confidence

  • perfectionism

  • age-inappropriate behavior

  • difficulty regulating emotions

  • difficulty forming or maintaining relationships or friendships

  • regressive behavior that is normal in a younger child


Neglect is when the child’s needs are not being met by their parent or caregiver. This can include physical needs such as withholding of food, clothing, or heat, emotional needs in which the child is not given the love and support needed, educational needs in which the child is not sent to school nor educated at home, or medical treatment which is when needed treatment is withheld from the child. Signs of neglect include:

  • the child is missing school frequently

  • the child shows up at school hungry or excessively sleepy

  • the child is not dressed appropriately for the weather or season; their clothing is dirty or in disrepair

  • the child might be under-weight

  • the child shows poor dental hygiene

  • the child is frequently sick and reports not seeing a doctor

  • skin issues such as sores, rashes, or insect bites

  • the child is left home alone for long periods of time, perhaps even days

  • the child is responsible for caring for younger siblings when too young to adequately do so

  • the child shows obsessive behavior such as hoarding food

  • he or she might become aggressive, or alternately, very shy or withdrawn

  • signs of self-harm such as hitting themselves or cutting

  • signs of drug or alcohol use


Abandonment is when the child is left behind either at home or in a public place when a child is incapable of caring for him- or herself.

If You Were Abused as a Child

First of all, remember that it wasn’t your fault! As a child, you were in a very vulnerable position, and the person who did this to you had hard power or control over you. They may have tried to put the blame on you, but it was not your fault! You did not cause the abuse.

If you have a history of abuse that is still causing issues currently in your life, please reach out for help from a qualified professional. I can be reached for trauma treatment at the link provided and would love to hear from you.


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