Abuse Issues

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Abuse can happen to someone as a child, as a young adult, or as part of their adult life. People who have been abused experience many varied feelings, and no two people react in exactly the same way. People who have been abused can experience a range of feelings and difficulties whilst the abuse is happening, and also long after the abuse has stopped.

It is possible to get help to understand what happened to you and how it may still be effecting you. Talking therapies can be very effective.

Types of Abuse

There are different types of abuse. These are all serious and can have a significant impact, even if that is not apparent at the time.

Abuse is about the misuse of power and control.

Abuse can happen in different types of context. Abuse can happen to anyone regardless of age, race, occupation or social class. It can happen whether the person is male or female, gay or straight, young or old.

Child Abuse

This is the term used to describe the abuse of children. This can be of any of the types described below, and the abuser can be someone who is a stranger to the child, but they might also be a parent, carer, family friend or someone known in any other context to the child.

Domestic Abuse

This is the term used to describe the physical, sexual, emotional or psychological abuse of one person by another who is, or has been, close to them. This can include:

  • being bullied, threatened, put down and made to feel stupid
  • being sent abusive texts or receiving abusive phone calls
  • being controlled by not being allowed to see family and friends
  • having money taken away
  • not being allowed to make decisions
  • having property destroyed
  • being forced into unwanted sex
  • being intimidated or emotionally blackmailed

Physical Abuse

Physical abuse involves contact intended to cause feelings of intimidation, pain, injury, or other physical suffering or harm.

Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse happens when a child is involved in any kind of sexual activity (contact or non-contact).

Psychological / Emotional Abuse

Psychological/Emotional abuse happens when someone is subjected to psychologically harmful behaviours which cause them to lose confidence and their sense of self-worth. It is associated with situations of power imbalance. This can be in the form of mental cruelty such as continuous name-calling or humiliation, or excessively harsh punishments.


Neglect happens when a parent or carer for someone fails (beyond the constraints imposed by poverty) to adequately provide for the needs of the person. This can include physical, emotional, educational and medical and neglect. Emotional neglect is the term used when a carer does not give kind attention, love or comfort to the person or child they are caring for. They may appear uninterested and show no affection or care.

Common Fears and Questions

  • No one will believe me
  • I will lose my friends
  • There is nothing that can help
  • If I want to get help, will I have to remember what happened?
  • It must have been my fault
  • Why didn’t I tell anyone when it was happening?
  • It happened a long time ago, why do I feel bad now?

It is painful and difficult to face the effects that any abuse may have had on you, both now and in the past. Many people who have been abused cannot recall large periods of their childhood. Some people remember what happened, but have not seen the connection between that and the difficulties they have now. Some people only have partial memories of things that happened to them. Very often people who can remember, try not to because it is so painful.

If you decide that you are ready to talk to someone about what you have been through, then you will work at the pace that is right for you. You can work on understanding and reducing or changing the impacts of abuse without needing to remember absolutely everything. Some people never remember anything; some people find that when they start talking that other memories come back. It is different for everyone, the important thing is that you are beginning to talk about and understand what happened to you with an adult who is safe and who is not judging you.

We understand how difficult it is for people to begin to talk about these things so are happy to meet with you and talk about the process of therapy with you before you need to decide if you want to share the details of what happened to you.

Abuse is never the fault of the child or the survivor, no matter what the situation or what they were or were not able to do about it. This is a message that you will return to again within any therapy.

If you are experiencing domestic abuse and want to deal with it, you do not necessarily have to end the relationship with the person who is abusive towards you. If both of you are will to try and get help then it can be possible to stop the abuse. However you may decide that you need to leave your home to stop the abuse.

It is important that you consider your own and your children’s safety with whatever decisions you make. Further information on this is available in the section below. If you ever think that you are in immediate danger, call the police – 999.

Self-Help / Useful websites

There are many websites that give more detail on the topics covered on this page, and there are books that you might want to read and work through before you are ready to talk to anyone. A resources are included below:

The Survivors Trust (TST): A national umbrella agency for over 130 specialist rape, sexual violence and childhood sexual abuse support organisations throughout the UK and Ireland.

This Tangled Web: A charity providing information, links and support on child sexual abuse and related issues to survivors and their partners.

NAPAC: The National Association for People Abused in Childhood. A charity based in the UK providing support and information for people abused in childhood.

Victim Support: Offers support and practical advice to victims of any sort of crime, including sexual abuse.

Survivors UK: Provides information, support and counselling for men who have been raped or sexually abused.

Domestic Violence

National Domestic Violence Helpline: Tel 0808 2000 247

This is a Freephone 24 Hour National Domestic Violence Helpline, run in partnership between Women’s Aid and Refuge. It is a national service for women experiencing domestic violence, their family, friends, colleagues and others calling on their behalf.

The Helpline can give support, help and information over the telephone, wherever the caller might be in the country. The Helpline is staffed 24 hours a day by fully trained female helpline support workers and volunteers. All calls are completely confidential. Translation facilities for callers whose first language is not English, and a service for callers who are deaf or hard of hearing are available.

Broken Rainbow UK: Provides support to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people experiencing domestic violence.

Useful books/resources:

Breaking Free: help for survivors of child sexual abuse; written by Carolyn Ainscough and Kay Toon, 2000.

Self-help booklet produced by Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Trust: Abuse

Self-help booklet produced by Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Trust: Domestic Violence

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