Physical abuse is often the easiest to spot…but not in every case. It can be very violent, like punching, kicking, stabbing or burning, but it can also be poking, pinching or shaking. Physical abuse may, or may not leave marks, bruises and scars. If the marks are on the face, outsiders may be able to guess what is going on and take steps to help the child. But abusers are often very clever at hiding the signs of their abuse, leaving bruises and scars on the parts of the body that are covered by clothes and can’t be easily seen. Abused teens are often ashamed of their situation too, and hide the marks themselves. Teenagers can feel they are somehow responsible for the abuse and that makes them afraid to seek help.
It’s hard to see emotional abuse from the outside. It leaves no scars or bruises on the body, but it can cause terrible damage to a child’s mental state. Emotional abuse can cause all kinds of behavioral disorders, and often results in a huge loss of self- esteem. Even if you are the teenager or child who is being emotionally abused it can be hard to understand what is happening, and that it is not your fault.
Sexual abuse is any sexual contact between an adult or much older child and a minor. It can also be sexual abuse if you are an older teenager who has sexual contact forced upon you that you do not want and feel frightened by. If the person doing the abusing is a member of your own family, like your dad or older brother, it’s known as incest. Any type of sexual abuse is wrong and damaging.
Neglect is the odd one out, of family abuses. This is because it isn’t always intentional, and the abuser is frequently unaware of the consequences of their actions. A parent might neglect a child because of ignorance of the care a child really needs, or because of financial problems that lead to them simply not having the time or money to provide the care a child requires. Neglect can also be emotional. If a parent or caregiver doesn’t make time to talk to their child, listen to their problems, emotions and worries, it can also be classed as neglect and can be responsible for psychological and emotional problems for the child. Teenagers are not adults, and still need a lot of guidance from their parents, even if they don’t think so!
Other forms of abuse that can affect teenagers:
Not all abuses that can affect teenagers take place within the family. You may suffer abuse because of your race, your religion, the way you dress or look. You might be abused by your peers because you are gay, or because someone assumes that you are gay. Abuses of this type often take place at school or in places where you interact with your peers. This is normally known as bullying.
Abuse can also take place in a relationship. This can be extra difficult for a teenager to deal with as it happens within the context of ‘love’ , and in a relationship that you have chosen for yourself and feel responsible for.
If you have been living in an abusive relationship, you may feel confused and afraid and not know where to turn or what to do. You may have mixed feelings of love and anger; wanting the abuse to end, but not wanting the relationship to be over. If you are in immediate danger call 911. For help contact Interior Health Crisis Line 1-888-353-2273
The Anti Violence Advocates Society is collecting cell phones and their chargers to be used by families planning to leave an abusive situation. Drop off old phones at Armour Mountain Office Services. Thank you to Media Esteem. who have agreed to clear the phones to factory settings.