An abused child will often experience more than one type of abuse, as well as other difficulties in their lives. It often happens over a period of time, rather than being a one-off event.
There are many different types of child abuse e.g. domestic abuse, sexual abuse, neglect, online abuse, physical abuse, emotional abuse, bullying and child sexual exploitation.
We estimate that over half a million children are abused in the UK each year.
Children are usually abused by someone in their immediate family circle. This can include parents, brothers or sisters, babysitters or other familiar adults. It is quite unusual for strangers to be involved.
It can be hard to detect long-standing abuse by an adult the child is close to. It is often very difficult for the child to tell anyone about it, as the abuser may have threatened to hurt them if they tell anybody. A child may not say anything because they think it is their fault, that no one will believe them or think they will be teased or punished. The child may even love the abusing adult. They want the abuse to stop, but they don't want the adult to go to prison or for the family to break up.
Children who are abused or neglected may present with a variety of difficulties and behaviours depending on where, when and the type of abuse they have experienced.
Child abuse and neglect can affect all domains of development such as physical, psychological, emotional, behavioural, and social.
There are many impacts abuse can have on a child e.g. attachment and relationship problems, learning and development problems, mental health, youth suicide, alcohol and drug use, behavioural problems, physical health problems, homelessness, teenage pregnancy, aggression, violence and criminal activity and fatal abuse.
It is important that not all young people will react in the same way. Here are some tipsfor parents/guardians supporting a young person to encourage them to talk:
- Make sure they know they can talk to you.
- Give them time and listen to what they say.
- Don't judge their actions or thoughts.
- Ask them how you can help.
- Let them make their own decisions.
Freedom From Abuse exists to prevent child sexual abuse through education and training and engaging with parents, carers and all kinds of organisations involved with children to give them the knowledge and skills they need to prevent abuse from happening.