What’s Child Abuse?

When an adult hurts or bullies another adult who they’re in a relationship with, this is called domestic violence. If an adult harms a child or young person, it is called child abuse. 

If domestic abuse is happening in a family, the children and young people might also be abused. However, child abuse can also happen when there is no domestic abuse. Child abuse can also happen between brothers and sisters. 

Child abuse can be: 

Physical – such as hitting, slapping, kicking, pinching 

Emotional – bullying, calling you names, making you feel bad, hurting your pets 

Sexual – touching your private body parts, making you touch someone else’s private parts, forcing you to have sex 

Neglect – not giving you you things you need like food, clothing or adequate care; not talking to you or ignoring you 

When children and young people hurt each other – with what they say or do – this is usually called bullying rather than child abuse. 

What can I do if I am being abused? 

If this is happening to you, it’s really important to get help. The first thing to do is talk to someone you trust. Whoever’s hurting you may have told you not to tell anyone, but don’t keep it a secret. 

Even if the person harming you says that something awful will happen if you tell, remember it’s OK to talk about what’s happened. No one has the right to hurt you or anyone you know – it’s against the law. 

If this is happening to you, it’s really important to get help. The first thing to do is talk to someone you trust. Whoever’s hurting you may have told you not to tell anyone, but don’t keep it a secret. Even if the person harming you says that something awful will happen if you tell, remember it’s OK to talk about what’s happened. No one has the right to hurt you or anyone you know – it’s against the law. 

Is it my fault? 

No – it’s not your fault. It’s normal to feel ashamed, guilty, angry or upset about what is happening to you, but remember, you didn’t do anything to make it happen. You are not responsible for the bad things someone else does. 


How can I be sure it is child abuse?

It’s normal to feel confused or scared when you know, trust and love the person who’s hurting you. If an adult makes you feel bad or scared, hurts you or makes you do things you don’t want to, you must tell someone. No one has the right to hurt you, and what they are doing is wrong. You have the right to a life that’s free from hurt, violence and abuse.