Abuse at Home
Abuse is a type of violence. It’s important to know something about abuse because it is a serious threat to people’s healthy futures. It’s also a crime.
Physical abuse is not okay. Physical abuse means any non-accidental injury to someone and includes things like hitting, slapping, or choking. Those are just examples.
Sexual abuse is not okay. Sexual abuse means any sexual contact between an adult and a child or young person. Examples include an adult looking at, exposing their bodies to, touching, or penetrating a child or young person, showing pornography to a child or youth, or talking about sexual acts with a child or young person.
Emotional abuse is not okay. Examples of emotional abuse are yelling and screaming at someone, or making someone feel ashamed or unvalued.
Neglect is not okay and occurs when parents or guardians purposefully don’t take care of the basic needs of their children.
We want to make sure you understand that abuse is an act of violence, and neglect is bad too. If abuse or neglect happen to you or someone else you know, it’s really important that you tell an adult you trust, so you or your family or friend can get help. If you are worried that you might abuse another person, or have done so, please tell an adult you trust about that, too.
Sometimes when a child or young person has been abused or neglected by a family member, they are separated from the family and provided care by another family or program. This care is arranged by the government through the child welfare system, also known as foster care. Many children and young people in foster care are reunified with their birth families after the whole family gets help for the problems that contributed to the child or young person’s abuse or neglect.
Reflect On It
Write in your journal (download journal) any thoughts you have as you think about this topic, using the questions below:
Prevent or Report Abuse of Yourself or Others
Have you experienced abuse and don’t know what to do next? Are you aware of someone else being abused but are unsure what to do about it? Do you have questions about abuse? Call the National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453) and push 1 to talk to a counselor. The Hotline is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, every day of the year.
Get Help to Prevent or Stop You from Abusing
If you are seriously considering abusing another person or afraid you will lose control of your emotions and could do so, you must address this serious health issue. Ask the adult responsible for your health care to arrange an appointment with your healthcare provider, or set one for yourself if you are responsible for your own care. (It’s okay if for confidentiality reasons you do not want to disclose exactly why you want the appointment.) If you do not want to involve an adult, get help on your own. Call the National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453) then push 1 to talk to a counselor. The counselor can help you make your next good decision.
If you have abused another person, it’s essential that you report that to an adult you trust, or directly to
Report Abuse in Progress
Call 911 for emergency services if you are being abused, someone else is being abused, or either you or another person is at immediate risk of abuse.
Stop Yourself from Abusing
Call 911 for emergency services if you are seriously considering abusing another person or if you have just done so.
Manage Your Foster Care Experience
Youth in foster care and exiting foster care have unique challenges. Fortunately, there are some resources developed specifically to support youth in foster care in understanding and managing their foster care experience:
It’s Your Life gives LGBTQ youth the tools and support they need to make the best of their experience in the child welfare system.
I’m Getting Ready for My Next Move—Into Adulthood provides information on aging out of the foster care system into adulthood. It reviews the development of a transition plan and key components, as well as the team that will help the youth prepare for
Telling Your Money What to Do helps youth assess their spending and provides tips for budgeting, cutting down on spending, and managing money resources.
Making Healthy Choices: A Guide on Psychotropic Medications for Youth in Foster Care provides information and worksheets to assist youth in recognizing when they need help, weighing options for medication use, asking questions about their diagnosis and treatment, and taking medication safely.