Home > Health Library > Physical Abuse
Violence can happen to anyone—males or females, children, teens,
adults, older adults, or people with disabilities. You are not to blame. No
matter what happened, violence is not okay. Violent people usually have many
problems that they find hard to deal with, which can cause them to act out with
Physical abuse includes hitting, pushing, shaking,
slapping, kicking, pinching, choking, strangling, and burning. Physical abuse
may come from a stranger, an acquaintance, or a close friend or family
member. Many victims of abuse know their attacker.
behavior can also hurt you emotionally. You may feel sad or frightened.
Feelings of guilt may prevent you from getting help. But it is important for
you to seek help and continue to get help for yourself as long as you need it.
Talk to your local child or adult protective agency, the police, or a health
professional, such as a doctor, nurse, or counselor. You can also call a local
mental health clinic. Any of these people can help you deal with your feelings,
get medical treatment if needed, and take steps to stop the abuser.
Check your symptoms to decide if and when you should see
a doctor or get other help.
If you have just been sexually abused or assaulted, try to
preserve any evidence of the attack.
Sexual abuse is any type of sexual
activity that is done against your will. It can be:
Physical abuse may include:
Based on your answers, you may need help soon.
Call your local YMCA, YWCA, hospital, clinic, or police department, or call an abuse hotline.
You may also call 911 .
Neglect is a form of abuse. It happens
when caregivers do not protect the health and well-being of the person they are
supposed to take care of.
Two common types of neglect are:
Based on your answers, you need
Call911or other emergency services now.
Based on your answers, you may need help right away.
Call your local hospital, clinic, or police department, or call an abuse hotline.
Based on your answers, you may need care soon. The
problem probably will not get better without medical care.
You have answered all the questions. Based on your answers, you may be
able to take care of this problem at home.
Many things can affect how your body responds to a symptom and what kind
of care you may need. These include:
If you feel threatened, you
must have a
plan for dealing with a threatening situation. If a
family member or someone else has threatened to harm you or your child, seek
If you are no longer living with a violent person, contact the
police to obtain a restraining order if your abuser continues to pursue you and
act violently toward you.
Here are some things you can do to help a friend or
The most important step is to help your friend contact local
domestic violence groups. There are programs across the country that provide
options for safety, legal support and needed information and
services. To find the nearest program:
The most dangerous time for your friend may be when she or
he is leaving the abusive relationship, so any advice about leaving must be
informed and practical.
Violence is learned behavior, so it is
especially important to help your children learn that violence is not a healthy
way to resolve conflict. Living in a violent environment increases your child's
chances of developing behavior problems,
anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, poor school
achievement, and lowered expectations for the future. People who are maltreated
as children are more likely to abuse others. If you were ever abused, it is
very important to get treatment so that you learn different ways to resolve
conflict and use appropriate discipline.
If you have been a victim of abuse and continue to have
problems related to the abuse, you may experience mental health problems, such
as depression, anxiety, or
post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). For more
information, see the topics
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
If violence occurs again, call your doctor to decide if and when you need to see your doctor or get other
Prevent violence in your home.
Keep yourself safe from violence.
To prepare for your appointment, see the topic Making the Most of Your Appointment.
If you have made an
appointment with your health professional, you may be able to get the most from
your visit by being prepared to answer the following questions:
If you need immediate help, call 911.
Another resource for help is the National Domestic Violence
Hotline (1-800-799-SAFE, 1-800-799-7233) or see the website at www.ndvh.org for free, confidential counseling and information
about local community resources.
Current as of:
June 4, 2014
William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine & H. Michael O'Connor, MD - Emergency Medicine
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.
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