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Abuse and assault

Abuse and assaultAbuse can happen to anyone, at any stage of their life.  Find out how to recognise abuse and get help to escape it...

What is physical abuse?

Physical abuse can include, but is not limited to:

  • Hitting
  • Kicking
  • Punching
  • Pushing
  • Pinching
  • Pressuring or forcing someone into sexual activity (sexual abuse)

What is emotional abuse?

Emotional abuse, also known as psychological abuse, involves a person: 

  • saying things that makes someone feel bad about themselves
  • pressurizing someone to do things they don't want to do, including sexual things (sexual abuse)
  • checking up on someone excessively to find out where they are and who they're with
  • threatening to hurt someone or people and animals they are close to

What is domestic abuse?

Domestic abuse, also known as domestic violence, is the abuse of a partner within an intimate or family relationship. Domestic abuse usually involves physical or emotional abuse (see the examples above), but can also involve other types of abuse, such as financial abuse.

Domestic abuse can occur even if you don’t live together. For instance, teenagers being abused by their partners can be said to be experiencing domestic abuse, even if they live in separate homes.

What is sexual abuse?

Sexual abuse is any unwanted sexual activity. Examples of sexual abuse include:

  • Someone exposing themselves to you when you don’t want them to
  • Someone touching you when you don’t want them to
  • Someone making you view sexual images when you don’t want to

Even if you do want to participate in any of the activities listed above, you are considered unable to consent if you are under sixteen years old. If you are unable to consent to sexual activity and it occurs then this is sexual abuse.

Rape and sexual assault are examples of sexual abuse.

What is child abuse?

Child abuse is any action to a child – be it by another child or an adult – that significantly harms them. Examples of child abuse include, but are not limited to:

What is forced marriage?

Forced Marriage is a marriage where one or more participants do not (or cannot) consent to the marriage that is imposed on them. They are pressured into marrying an individual, usually by their families. This pressure may take the form of physical, psychological, sexual or financial abuse (see above).

What is female genital mutilation (FGM)?

Female genital mutilation (FGM) (also known as female circumcision, cutting or sunna) is the partial or total removal of external female genitalia for non-medical reasons. It is illegal in the UK.  

What is honour based violence (HBV)?

Honour based violence (HBV), also known as honour based abuse (HBA), is abuse committed in the name of upholding family ‘honour’. Those perpetrating honour based violence argue that their abusive behaviour can restore a victim’s family’s standing. For instance, if an individual does something which is perceived to threaten their family’s honour, that individual may be punished. This is done under the pretence that this punishment will restore their family’s honour. Whilst notions of honour are subjective, all justifications for honour based violence are invalid. Honour based violence is illegal in the UK.

Where can I find support if I have been abused, or believe I or someone I know is at risk?

If you think you or someone you know is in immediate danger, call 999 instead of contacting one of the organisations below.

Below is a list of organisations you can contact if you think you’re being abused, or you want to support someone who is. If you’d prefer to tell someone you know first, read Childline’s advice on how to do this. You may be unsure if you or someone you know is being abused. Organisations like Childline are here to help you figure this out.

If you’re worried about an abuser finding out you’ve told someone, try to contact an organisation on a different phone or computer to one the abuser can access. For instance, if you share a computer at home with the abuser, try using a computer in a public library or at school or university.  If this is not possible, don’t panic. A lot of the helplines listed at the bottom of this page won’t show up on your phone bill – it’s specified if they will. If you don’t want anybody to know what websites you’ve looked at, you can delete them from your web history. Disrespect NoBody has advice on how to hide a site from your web history so that nobody can see you’ve visited it.

If you are being abused, you have nothing to be ashamed of. You have done nothing wrong. You deserve support. The abuse can stop.

Support for anybody under 18…

  • In an abusive relationship.

Disrespect NoBody and Tender provides information, advice and support for young people in abusive relationships.

  • Who has been raped or sexually assaulted.

The Survivors Trust provides information, advice and support for anybody in the UK and Ireland who has experienced rape or sexual violence. If you are 13 years old or older and live in Scotland you can contact Rape Crisis Scotland for support, or  Childline if you’re under 13. The Havens provides information, advice and support for anybody in London who has been raped or sexually assaulted in the past 12 months.

  • At risk of being forced into marriage, and other honour based violence (HBV).

The UK government’s Forced Marriage Unit can help you if you’re trying to stop a forced marriage or leave a marriage you were forced into. Karma Nirvana helps anybody in the UK at risk of forced marriage, or other honour based violence.

  • Who is being pressured by someone online to do things that make them uncomfortable.

Thinkuknow provides support to anybody under eighteen who is uncomfortable with the way someone on the internet interacts with them. This may include, but is not limited to, a person asking you to send nude photos, or pressurising you to meet them.

  • Experiencing abuse (of any nature).

Childline provides information, advice and support for young people experiencing any difficulties, which may or may not include abuse.

  • Who has been a victim of a crime (of any nature).

You&Co provides support for children and young people living in England and Wales.

If you’re a young person in Northern Ireland who’s been a victim of crime you can contact Childline.

Victim Support Scotland provides support for those aged 12 years or older living in Scotland. If you’re under 12 years old you can contact Childline.

If you’re a young person in the Republic of Ireland who’s been a victim of crime you can contact Childline.

Support for anybody over 18…

  • Who has been raped or sexually assaulted.

The Survivors Trust provides information, advice and support for anybody in the UK and Ireland who has experienced rape or another form of sexual violence. If you live in Scotland you can contact Rape Crisis Scotland for support. The Havens provides information, advice and support for anybody in London who has been raped or sexually assaulted in the past 12 months.

  • At risk of being forced into marriage, and other honour based violence (HBV).

The UK government’s Forced Marriage Unit can help you if you’re trying to stop a forced marriage or leave a marriage you were forced into. Karma Nirvana helps anybody in the UK at risk of forced marriage, or other honour based violence.

  • Who has been a victim of a crime (of any nature).

Victim Support provides support for those living in England and Wales.

Victim Support NI provides support for those living in Northern Ireland.

Victim Support Scotland provides support for those living in Scotland.

Crime Victims Helpline provides support for those living in the Republic of Ireland.

  • Who wants to stop abusing their partner

Respect provides support, advice and information without judgment.

  • Who’s struggling with sexual thoughts or behaviours towards children.

Stop it Now! provides support, advice and information without judgment.

Anything you tell these organisations will remain confidential unless they have clear reason to believe you are at risk of harming yourself or others.

Support for girls (females under 18)…

  • Who have been raped or sexually assaulted.

Rape Crisis provides information, advice and support for women and girls in England and Wales who have experienced rape or another form of sexual violence.

  • At risk of forced marriage, female genital mutilation (FGM) and other honour based violence (HBV).

The UK government’s Forced Marriage Unit can help you if you’re trying to stop a forced marriage or leave a marriage you were forced into.

Karma Nirvana helps anybody in the UK at risk of forced marriage or other honour based violence. Karma Nirvana also help girls and women at risk of FGM. Iranian & Kurdish Women’s Rights Organisation (IKWRO) provides support to UK females from a Middle Eastern, North African or Afghan community at risk of honour based violence. This may include forced marriage, FGM and other violence. They speak Farsi, Arabic, Kurdish, Dari, Pashto, Turkish and English.

Support for women (females over 18)…

  • In an abusive relationship.

Refuge and Women’s Aid provide support for women and children in the UK experiencing domestic violence.

  • Who have been raped or sexually assaulted.

Rape Crisis provides information, advice and support for women and girls in England and Wales who have experienced rape and/or other forms sexual violence.

  • At risk of forced marriage, female genital mutilation (FGM) and other honour based violence (HBV).

The UK government’s Forced Marriage Unit can help you if you’re trying to stop a forced marriage or leave a marriage you were forced into. Karma Nirvana helps anybody in the UK at risk of forced marriage or other honour based violence. Karma Nirvana also help girls and women at risk of FGM. Iranian & Kurdish Women’s Rights Organisation (IKWRO) provides support to UK females from a Middle Eastern, North African or Afghan community at risk of honour based violence. This may include forced marriage, FGM and other violence. They speak Farsi, Arabic, Kurdish, Dari, Pashto, Turkish and English.

Support for boys (males under 18)…

See ‘Support for anybody under 18’ further up.

Support for men (males over 18)…

  • In an abusive relationship.

Men’s Advice Line provides information, advice and support for men in abusive relationships.

  • Who have been raped or sexually abused.

SurvivorsUK provide information, advice and support for men in the UK and Ireland who have experienced rape or sexual abuse.

Where can I find support if I think someone I know is being abused?

If you think someone you know is in immediate danger, call 999. If you don’t think the danger is immediate, encourage them to contact one of the organisations above. The organisations listed below provide guidance for how a friend or family member can support victims of abuse.

I want to support…

  • A young person I know experiencing abuse (of any nature).

The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) provides guidance on how to voice concerns for a child’s wellbeing. Abuse can be reported anonymously.

  • A young person I know in an abusive relationship.

Tender has advice on what to do if a young person you know is being abused by their partner.

  • A young person I know being pressured by someone online to do things that make them uncomfortable.

Thinkuknow Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) lets you report any behavior online that is making a young person you know uncomfortable.

  • Someone I know who has been raped or sexually assaulted.

NHS Choices has advice on how to support someone you know who has been raped or sexually assaulted.

  • Someone I know at risk of forced marriage.

The UK government’s Forced Marriage Unit  can help you if you’re trying to stop a forced marriage.

  • Someone I know at risk of female genital mutilation (FGM).

The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) provides guidance on how to voice concerns that a child is at risk of FGM.

  • A woman I know experiencing domestic abuse.

Women’s Aid and the National Domestic Violence Freephone Helpline have advice on how to support female victims of domestic abuse. Much of this advice is applicable to male victims of domestic abuse too.

  • A man I know who has been raped or sexually abused.

SurvivorsUK provides advice on how to support men who have experienced rape or another form of sexual abuse.

Helplines

You can find the contact details for the organisations listed above on our ‘Abuse and assault helplines’ page.