1. Learn about abuse

It can be hard to recognize that someone is abusive. An abuser might seem concerned about you, or protective of you. Sometimes even people you love can abuse you. Other people who know about the abuse might ignore it, or help to hide it.

Abuse can be physical, sexual, emotional, or financial. Neglect can also be abuse.

Physical abuse

Physical abuse happens when someone does something that hurts or harms you. For example, physical abuse can happen when someone:

  • hits, punches, slaps, chokes, burns, or pushes you
  • ties you up
  • locks you in a place like a room or a car
  • forces you to do things you don't want to do that hurt your body

Sexual abuse

For example, sexual abuse happens when someone:

  • forces or threatens you into sexual acts you don't want to do
  • uses force, weapons, or objects in sexual acts without your consent

Emotional or psychological abuse

Emotional abuse is sometimes called psychological abuse. For example, emotional abuse can happen when someone:

  • yells at you
  • insults, bullies, or makes you feel ashamed
  • controls your activities
  • stops you from contacting your friends and family
  • says they'll abandon you or send you away

It may also be emotional abuse if someone:

  • threatens to hurt, or kill you even if they don't actually touch you
  • threatens to hurt, kill, or take away your children, other people you love, or your pet
  • threatens to kill themselves if you don't do what they want
  • stalks or follows you
  • invades your privacy by checking your emails, reading your texts, or listening to your phone conversations

Financial abuse

For example, financial abuse can happen when someone:

  • takes your money without your permission
  • controls your finances or refuses to share money
  • stops you from working or going to school
  • makes you lose your job by getting you to miss work


Neglect can also be abuse. For example, neglect can happen when someone:

  • leaves you alone when you need help
  • doesn't give you food, clothing, medicine, or other things that you need and that they are responsible for giving you
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