YourVoice- Staying Safe- Abuse

Abuse is anything another person does that's meant to cause harm. But it's not always easy to know what is abuse or what to do about it. Find out about the different types and how to get support.

Physical Abuse

What is Physical abuse?

Physical abuse is when someone is hurting you. This could be hurting you with their hands, their feet, or an object. Some examples of physical abuse are:

  • hitting, smacking and slapping
  • punching and kicking
  • pinching, scratching and biting
  • shaking or suffocating you
  • scalding or burning you
  • hair pulling
  • spitting or throwing things at you
  • making you swallow something that hurts or makes you feel ill, including giving you medicine when you're not ill or don't need it.

How can it affect me?

 Physical abuse can leave you with more than marks on your body. It can lead to you feeling:

These feelings can last long after your injuries have healed. And this can stop you living your life and enjoying yourself. But you can get help and support.

Who can help?


Doncaster Safeguarding Children's Board

Doncaster Children Services Trust


Emotional Abuse

What is emotional abuse?

Emotional abuse includes when someone:

  • calls you names
  • keeps shouting at you, even if you haven't done anything wrong
  • puts you down 
  • ignores you or leaves you out of things
  • says or does things that make you feel bad about yourself
  • makes you feel like you don’t belong
  • makes you take responsibility for things you shouldn’t have to do until you’re older
  • tries to control you or put pressure on you to do things you’re not ready to do
  • treats you differently from your brothers or sisters
  • puts you in dangerous situations
  • is aggressive and violent to other people in your family and you keep seeing it
  • stops you from having friends

Why me?

There are lots of different reasons why a person might abuse you emotionally.

They might be taking their own stress out on you. Or they might feel a need to control other people, especially if they’re struggling to control their own life.

Only the person doing this would know why they're behaving in this way. But whatever their reasons, it’s not okay. And it's not your fault.

Who can help?


Doncaster Safeguarding Children's Board

Doncaster Children Services Trust


Sexual Abuse

What is sexual abuse?

Sexual abuse is when someone is forced, pressurised or tricked into taking part in any kind of sexual activity with another person.

Examples of sexual abuse include:

  • being touched in a way you don't like without giving permission or consent
  • someone flashing or exposing themselves to you online or offline
  • being forced to have sex (intercourse), look at sexual pictures or videos, do something sexual or watch someone do something sexual.

Sexual abuse can include lots of things like rape and sexual assault, sexual harassment, online grooming and domestic abuse or violence

It can also include sexual exploitation (being pressure into having sex with someone in return for getting something like money or drugs), sexting or child pornography.

Why sexual abuse can happen

It's normal to want to know why it can or has happened. It’s nothing to do with who you are, or what you’ve said or done. Some people want to feel power and control.

They know what they’re doing is wrong. They might tell you to keep it a secret or try and make you believe that it’s okay. This is called ‘grooming’ which is a way to build up trust with you so they can keep abusing you. Grooming also happens online.

How to tell someone you have been sexually abused

If you've been sexually abused and you're not sure how to bring it up with someone who could help, try these steps;

Pick somebody you trust
Speaking up about sexual abuse is a brave and difficult thing to do. They could be a grandparent, neighbour, a friend’s parent, teacher, religious leader or doctor. Find out more about asking an adult for help.
Write it down
Talking about abuse can be upsetting but it’s important that you tell them as much as you can about what’s been happening – you could try writing it down in a letter instead.
Pick a time
When you can talk privately with the person you want to tell.
Get support
If you have a close friend, you could ask them to be there when you tell somebody.
Understand that it’s NOT your fault
You may feel ashamed or embarrassed. But you shouldn’t be. And you shouldn’t let that stop you talking to someone you trust.

Who can help?


Doncaster Safeguarding Children's Board

Doncaster Children Services Trust


Rape and Sexual Assault

What is Rape? (Warning-Explicit Language)

Rape is sex that you don’t agree to.

When 2 people have sex, it’s really important that they both give their consent. This means that they both want to have sex, and both agree to it. And they both have the right to change their mind at any time. You can say ‘no’ even if you’ve had sex with that person before.

Sex when someone doesn’t agree to it is rape. Rape is illegal. 

If a man or boy forces their penis into your vagina, anus (bottom) or mouth, this is classed as rape. This can happen to both girls and boys.

Rape can happen in a relationship. If you’re in a relationship, you both need to agree to have sex. Being forced to have sex is rape, whether it is with your partner, family, friend or somebody else.

What is sexual assault? (Warning- Explicit Language)

Sexual assault is when somebody intentionally touches you in a sexual way without your consent (permission). For example, if a friend’s brother forces their hand onto your private parts when you don’t want them to – this would be sexual assault.

If somebody forces their fingers or an object inside of you (either your vagina or bottom) this is also assault. Both girls and boys could be sexually assaulted by either males or females.

How Rape and Sexual Assault make you feel

It’s normal for rape or sexual assault to lead to different feelings and emotions. You could be feeling:

Shocked: You might feel ‘numb’ or surprisingly calm about what happened. You might feel shocked and like you can’t understand what happened.

Embarrassed: You might be worried about what people will think and how you will tell them. Read about embarrassment.

Guilty: You might think that it was your fault – even though this isn’t true. You could be angry at yourself for not stopping it. But you shouldn’t be angry at yourself.

Scared: You might have flashbacks or nightmares and feel frightened about being alone. This is a natural reaction. And it’s likely that this will get better over time.

Angry: You might want to hurt the person responsible. You may also feel like this towards yourself – even though it wasn’t your fault.

Depressed: You could feel hopeless or sad - like you don’t have anything to look forward to anymore.

I was raped and now I'm pregnant

If you're pregnant as a result of being raped, you may find yourself becoming afraid of things such as being alone or going outside. You may also be having flashbacks (when you relive what happened to you) which can leave you feeling, hearing and smelling the same things as when you were raped.

Some people might cry a lot and others may feel numb. However you feel, it's okay to feel this way. Your body will be going through a lot of changes – especially your hormones. You may feel tired or sick because of your pregnancy.

You may be worried about how you'll cope with being a mother. Maybe you're confused about your feelings for your baby because you became pregnant as a result of being raped.

However you're feeling about your pregnancy, it's important that you talk to someone about how you're feeling. Don't try to cope alone.

Childline have more detailed information here including what to expect when you tell the police. 


What neglect means

There’s a difference between things we want and things we need. Some people might want a new games console. Or a new phone.

But these aren’t things you need. You need things like enough to eat and drink. And protection from danger. And clean clothes. Your parents or carers should make sure you have these things.

You also shouldn't have to spend a lot of time looking after other people in your family without getting any support from an adult.

If you have a disability you should also be supported in whatever extra ways you need

Reasons for neglect

There could be lots of reasons why you are being neglected. Your family may be doing their best. But they might just not have enough money. Maybe someone who looks after you has a problem with alcohol or drugs. Or maybe they are having problems with their physical or mental health.

Whatever is happening is not your fault and you can get help.

If any of this is happening to you, it's important to tell someone. You might think it's your fault. But it isn't. Every child and young person has the right to be looked after properly. Sometimes parents and carers can't manage this by themselves.

How can I tell if someone I know is being neglected?

If you think a friend is being neglected, there are things you can do to help them. But it’s not always clear if someone’s experiencing neglect or not. If you’re worried about someone, you could see if you notice any of these things:

  • they seem like they haven’t washed, are dirty or smelly, or their clothes seem dirty
  • they are hungry or asking for other people’s food
  • they often come to school with no lunch money or packed lunch
  • their parents don’t seem to know where they are or what they are doing
  • they often don’t turn up for school, or they often arrive late
  • they don’t seem to have many friends
  • they get sent to school even when they are really unwell

It can be hard to decide how to support your friend if you notice any of these things. Maybe you could start by talking to an adult you trust.

For more support visit childline

Doncaster Safeguarding Children's Board

Doncaster Children Services Trust

FGM, Circumcision and Cutting

What is FGM?

FGM, sometimes referred to as female circumcision, is when a girl’s genitals (private parts) are altered or removed. It can cause long-lasting damage as well as ongoing emotional distress.

The operation is usually done by someone who doesn’t have any medical training. Girls are given no anaesthetic, no antiseptic treatment and are often forced to keep still.

The cutting is made using tools such as a knife, pair of scissors, scalpel, glass or razor blade.

FGM can be extremely painful and dangerous. It can cause:

  • really bad pain
  • shock
  • bleeding
  • infections such as tetanus, HIV and hepatitis B and C
  • organ damage.

It can also cause problems later on. You may experience difficulties in childbirth, or need medical treatment. Blood loss and infections can cause death in some cases.

FGM can also cause emotional distress at the time and in the future, and it might lead to anxiety and depression.

You can talk to childline about how you’re feeling and what you might like to do next. We can also help you get any medical advice or treatment you might need.

If you’re in pain or feel unwell, it’s really important that you get medical help.

Your doctor can help you, even if it’s not an emergency. The NHS provides specialist healthcare for women and girls who have had FGM. 

You can also call 111 if you’re not sure what to do. They can talk to you about the best way to get medical help. Find out more on the NHS website.

It’s an emergency

You should call 999 if your life is in danger. Or if you need help straight away you can go to your local hospital’s Accident and Emergency department (A&E).

Domestic Abuse

Domestic abuse is when a grown-up threatens, bullies or hurts another adult in the family. Sometimes it's called domestic violence. And it can happen in any family. It can be very hard to deal with but remember that it's never your fault.

It might not always be obvious if what's happening at home is domestic abuse. But if somebody in your family uses bullying or violence to get another adult to do what they want, that's domestic abuse.

It can include:

  • Physical violence
    Like hitting, kicking, punching, pushing, hair-pulling.
  • Threats
    This includes threatening to hurt you, another person in your family, or a pet. Or threatening to stop money for food or bills.
  • Sexual violence
    Making another person do something sexual when they don't want to, or making someone watch sexual material on the internet or television.
  • Controlling someone's finances
    This includes not allowing somebody to spend their own money. Or not giving them money for basic things such as food, nappies for babies, or clothes.
  • Controlling someone's life
    This could include stopping someone from going to work or school.
  • Cultural or 'honour' violence
    This includes being hurt or abused as a punishment for something that's not seen as culturally acceptable by your community or family. It can include being forced to marry someone.
For more information click here

Forced Marriage

Because forced marriage is illegal, it can happen in secret and can also be planned by parents, family or religious leaders. It may involve physical abuse, sexual abuse or emotional abuse.

Nobody has the right to force you to do something you don't want to do. You can talk to Childline any time about how you feel and if you're having problems with your family.

Some families force their children to marry because they:

  • think it’s an important part of religion or culture
  • are worried about the family’s reputation and honour (in some cultures also known as 'izzat')
  • want all of the family’s money to stay together
  • want to marry their children off in exchange for money
  • don’t approve of their child being gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender
  • don’t want their children to have relationships or sex
  • feel pressured by the community or other family members to follow traditions
  • want to keep family values and honour.

But none of these reasons are okay. And nobody has the right to force you into marriage.

What do I do if I think I am being forced into marriage?

Remember that if you're being forced into marrying someone you don't want to, this is wrong and it's also against the law. It can feel like you have no control, but it's important to think about your future, your safety and what a forced marriage would be like for you.

It’s possible that your parents or family would force you to marry because they think it’s the best thing for you. This doesn't make things okay and you can get help to stop this from happening.

You might love your parents but might also feel unsure about why you're being forced to marry. You might be told that you're bringing shame on your family if you don’t marry. Your parents might even say that they'll disown you. This is emotional abuse. 

If you can't talk to your parents, maybe you can think of another adult who you trust like a family member, teacher or school nurse. It’s important to let someone know as quickly as possible so that you can be safe and get help.

Forced marriages happen in many religions and nationalities, and can affect both boys and girls. It doesn’t only happen to young people, it can happen to adults too. There are some people and communities that think forced marriage is okay.

But it’s important to remember that all major religions (Muslim, Hindu, Sikh, Christian and Jewish) are against forced marriage. Forced marriage is never okay, and it’s important to remember there is help available.

Forced marriage is against the law in the UK and you have a right to say no if you're being made to marry someone who you don’t want to. The minimum age for marriage in the UK is 16.

You have the right to:

  • choose who you marry, when you marry or whether you want to get married or not
  • make decisions and to be able to tell someone about what’s happening to you
  • feel safe and to ask for help
  • say no and explain that you don’t feel happy with what is happening.
  • You might worry that if you tell someone then your parents or other people could get into trouble. Or you may think it will make things worse. You don’t have to deal with this on your own. There are people who won’t judge you and who will support you with what you’re going through. 

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Last updated: 04 December 2018 17:37:06