Physical abuse is deliberately hurting another person causing injuries. It does not include accidents. Physical abuse is often the most visible type of abuse as it leads to signs on a person’s body like bruises, broken bones, cuts or burns and in severe cases can lead to serious life-changing injuries or death.
Physical abuse may include:
- Hitting, slapping, pushing, kicking, hair-pulling, biting, pushing
- Rough handling
- Scalding and burning
- Physical punishments
- Inappropriate or unlawful use of restraint
- Making someone purposefully uncomfortable (e.g. opening a window and removing blankets)
- Involuntary isolation or confinement
- Misuse of medication (e.g. over-sedation)
- Forcible feeding or withholding food
Anyone can experience physical abuse regardless of ethnicity, age, sexuality, disability, religion or class. However, for people who are vulnerable due to a care or support need they may face additional barriers to seeking help.
If physical abuse happens between people who are in an intimate relationship, or are related, this is domestic violence.
The perpetrator is likely to be someone who is known to the adult and has regular contact with them, such as a:
It can be difficult to spot if someone else is suffering from physical abuse as it can often be mistaken for accidents, which often share the same physical signs. However there are indicators that suggest physical abuse rather than accidents:
- No explanation for injuries or inconsistency with the account of what happened
- Injuries are inconsistent with the person’s lifestyle
- Bruising, cuts, welts, burns and/or marks on the body
- Loss of hair in clumps
- Frequent injuries
- Unexplained falls
- Subdued or changed behaviour in the presence of a particular person
- Signs of malnutrition
- Failure to seek medical treatment or frequent changes of GP
If you are worried that you or an adult you know is experiencing physical abuse report it now, call 01375 511000
Children witnessing abuse is child abuse – if you are concerned about a child report it now, call 01375 652 802.
Outside of office hours call: 01375 372 468
If the person is immediate danger, dial 999 and ask for the police