Signs of Physical Abuse & How To Get Help

Physical abuse can take many forms, and can happen to anyone, regardless of gender. Learn how to recognize physical abuse, and get help breaking free from an abusive relationship at TheHopeLine.

What is Physical Abuse?

Physical abuse is any act of physical harm that someone uses to control, threaten, or harm another person. Common examples of physical abuse include:

  • Physical restraint (tying or holding you to a floor, wall, object, etc.)
  • Hitting or slapping
  • Punching
  • Kicking
  • Biting
  • Pushing or Shoving
  • Painfully Tight Gripping or Holding
  • Reckless Driving
  • Throwing Things
  • Using Weapons to Hurt or Threaten
  • Choking or Strangling
  • Acting Physically Demeaning or Intimidating
  • Forcing Sex or Sexual Acts

While physical abuse tends to refer to the actual acts of harm, threatening to harm as a means of control is still inappropriate and is emotional abuse. If someone has hurt you physically or threatened to hurt you in any way through their rage, cruelty, or attempts to control you or your behavior, you need to get help right away.

Signs of Physical Abuse

While it is not always obvious that physical abuse is occuring, common signs of physical abuse may include:

  • Unusual and Frequent Bruises, Marks, Scrapes, or Cuts
  • High Frequency of Injuries
  • Frequent Trips to the Emergency Room

It is important to note that while these often occur in situations of abuse, they are not the only ways abuse can manifest itself. Neither do they always mean someone is being abused. They could be a result of physical or mental illness, or of other harmful behaviors such as cutting.

If you have a loved one you worry is being abused, share your concern privately, and ask them if they’re safe. If they express a need for help, make sure you are choosing ways to help that do not put your own safety at risk.

Physical Abuse: Help and Resources

If you are being physically abused and are in immediate danger, call 911. If you are not in immediate danger, you should:

  • Create a Safety Plan: Include people you can contact when you are in trouble and places you can go that are safe from your abuser. Keep this information in a journal or other private place that your abuser is not likely to find or access.
  • Alert Friends and Family: Let people you trust know what is going on so they can help you enact your safety plan and break the cycle of abuse in your relationship.
  • Get Help: In addition to TheHopeLine, there are a wide variety of support and advocacy groups that offer resources for abuse victims. See a list of organizations we recommend below.

Above all, remember: abuse is never your fault. You can break free and start healing now.

TheHopeLine offers confidential live chat and email from mentors who can aid your recovery after abuse. We are committed to protecting your safety and privacy. Reach out today.

Want to learn more? Explore our library of blogs, podcasts, ebooks, and other resources for answers to your questions about abuse:

  • Is He Abusive or Just Angry?
  • Is It Safe to Confront Someone About Their Abusive Behavior?
  • How Do I Make New Friends After An Abusive Relationship?

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