Information » People in Your Life » Communication and When Things Go Wrong » Abuse
Abuse can be a very difficult subject for people to talk about as it can be confusing and difficult to recognise that you are being abused. You might feel embarrassed or afraid to talk about it to anyone.
Abuse can take many forms:
- Sexual abuse is where someone is touching you, or asking or forcing you to do things sexually that you don't want to do
- Physical abuse is where someone is being violent towards you like punching or hitting you
- Emotional abuse can be name-calling, threatening you or being cruel towards you
- Neglect is another form of abuse which means not looking after you properly, like providing enough to eat or keeping you safe from harm
Sadly the person abusing you might be one of your parents, another family member or relative, an older child, family friend or even someone claiming to be one of your friends. It could also be an adult that you come into contact with.
Sexual abuse can be very confusing because quite often it is someone that you know and trust:
- They might try to make you think that what is happening isn't wrong, that it is a special thing between you, a secret. They might give you presents, buy you things, take you out to places and give you lots of attention and compliments that make you feel good
- They might tell you not to tell anyone or that people wouldn't believe you if you told them what is happening. They might threaten to hurt you or someone in your family if you tell anyone
- They are saying or doing these things because they know what they are doing to you is wrong and they don't want to be caught
- By forcing you or making you do things sexually, they are abusing your trust in them and harming you
Being abused in any way can make you feel frightened, alone, confused, ashamed, embarrassed, guilty and angry.
Everyone has the right not to be abused and to be offered protection from abuse and there are people who can and will help you.
Deciding to tell someone and finding help is an important step to making the abuse stop. It can be a difficult thing to do especially with the way it can make you feel but it only takes a moment of bravery and courage to tell someone to help prevent you from being abused again.
Many people who are being abused worry that they will get into trouble or that their family won’t believe them if they told them what is happening. Remember, it is not your fault if you are being abused. You are in no way responsible for what is happening. There is always a way out of the problem and people you can talk to, you don’t have to keep it to yourself.
- Choose someone you trust like a parent, a member of the family, a close friend or their parents, a teacher, a youth worker, doctor, your school nurse or a neighbour. If you find it difficult to talk about what's happening, write them a letter and talk about it after they have read it
- If you don’t want to tell anyone close to you, there are special organisations dedicated to helping young people who are being abused or to help people who know someone who is being abused. These organisations are there to listen and help. They won't be shocked by anything you say, won’t judge you and will let you tell them in your own way
- Unless they are worried you are in serious danger, anything you say will be in strict confidence and no-one needs to know that you spoke to them
- Sometimes if they think your safety is at risk, they might take action to protect you but this can only happen if they know who you are and where you live
- The person from the organisation will talk through what will happen if you decide to take action. You might for example need to tell the police or a doctor what has happened. Don’t worry, these people are all trying to help you and you won’t be in any trouble
- Some young people worry that they will be split up from their family if they share what is happening. This will only happen if you are in serious danger by staying at home. Social services will always try and keep a family together if they can
Coping with what has happened
When you have told someone it is normal to feel relief but you might also feel a mixture of confusing emotions, feeling ashamed, embarrassed, guilty and angry by what has happened to you. It will take time for these feelings to pass and get better but you will feel better eventually.
Its important to express these feelings in some way, whether you continue to get support by talking to someone or perhaps write about what has happened and how it makes you feel. There are some support groups you can go to and online forums there to help you come to terms with what has happened to you.
Unfortunately abuse is something that happens to many people and you are not alone.
By stopping someone from abusing you and getting help you've shown courage and strength and this is something to be proud of.