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How to recognize if you or your children are being abused

Sometimes it can be hard to tell whether or not you or your children are being abused. This information may help you to understand your own situation.

If children or teenagers are exposed to intimate partner violence, the impacts on them can be the same as if they have been directly abused themselves.

Exposure can be direct or indirect when young people...

  • witness physical or emotional abuse
  • know that physical or emotional abuse is happening, when they overhear it or see the results, such as bruises, changes in behaviour or people leaving.

Take a quiz on what counts as child abuse in a familyExternal Link.

All family violence is wrong. Some of it is against the lawExternal Link.

Family violence is any form of abuse or neglect that a child or adult experiences from a family member or intimate partner (boyfriend, girlfriend, spouse, fiancé(e). It is an abuse of power by one person to hurt and control someone who trusts and depends on them.

Abuse can happen between anyone in a family, including young children, grown children, parents, elderly parents, siblings, intimate partners and extended family-like uncles or step-parents.  It can happen in opposite and same-sex couples.

Examples of violence include:

Physical abuse-you or your children are

  • hit, kicked, burned, pushed, choked or punched.
  • threatened-someone threatens to hurt or kill you, your family or your pets.

Sexual abuse-you are

  • forced to perform sexual activities of any kind.
  • made to have sex without contraception.
  • deliberately given a sexual disease or infection.

Sexual abuse can also happen between intimate partners.
Even if you are married or engaged, your partner cannot force you to have sex.

Child sexual abuse-your children are taken advantage of for sexual purposes if they

  • touch someone's genitals.
  • let someone touch their genitals.
  • have sex.
  • watch others have sex or look at porn.
  • take off their clothes or watch someone undress.
  • have nude photos taken.

 Emotional abuse-you or your children are

  • treated like a possession.
  • constantly criticized and put down.
  • told that you are stupid or worthless.
  • ignored or neglected-or given the silent treatment.
  • threatened-someone threatens to abandon you or leave you behind.

Controlling behaviour-you or your children are

  • kept in your home and not allowed to leave.
  • constantly questioned and monitored — including your internet and phone activities.
  • not allowed to see your family or friends.

Neglect-you or your children are

  • not being provided with your basic needs from someone you depend on.
  • denied needs such as housing, clothes, food, hygiene, supervision or medical care.

Financial abuse-you are

  • not in control of your own or family money without your permission.
  • having money taken from you without your permission.
  • forced out of your house or forced to sign documents to give over control of your house.
  • not allowed to make an income.

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