How to Tell If Your Parents Are Abusive (with Pictures)

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How to Tell If Your Parents Are Abusive (with Pictures)
How to Tell If Your Parents Are Abusive (with Pictures)

Abuse takes many forms. The spanking law prohibits the use of violence in disciplining children, but there is no consensus among parents about whether spanking is abuse. Other types of abuse, such as sexual abuse, are not allowed in any way. If you are suffering emotionally or physically at the hands of your parents, you are likely to be another victim of abuse. Read the information below and talk to a trusted adult, such as a teacher or close relative.


Part 1 of 4: Recognizing Neglect and Physical Abuse

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Step 1. Think about what happened

There are several things to look at when trying to find out if your parents are really abusive. The main factor to take into account is usually the physical aggression and the applied force levels. Was your father trying to teach you not to do something dangerous, like running down the street without looking at cars? This type of punishment is usually acceptable as long as it is not extreme or excessive. Hitting a child to take out frustrations is considered abuse, as is any aggression.

  • Did you get beaten up because your parents thought it would stop unwanted behavior?
  • Have your parents ever hit you after drinking or hearing bad news?
  • Have your parents ever used objects to hit you, such as a belt, a power cord, or something like that?
  • Do your parents lose control when they hit you? For example, does a simple spanking turn into slaps to the face or punches?
  • Did your parents ever hold you to hit you?
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Step 2. Look for signs of physical injury

Child abuse laws are different depending on the country and current legislation. Overall, however, one of the main factors in assessing violence is the presence of lasting damage to the body. Your parents can be abusive if you show any of the following signs after a "discipline" session:

  • Cuts or scratches;
  • Bruises;
  • Bite marks;
  • Burns;
  • Welts;
  • Muscle torsions;
  • Broken or fractured bones.
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Step 3. Think about the care you receive, as neglect is a form of child abuse

It can be very difficult to identify neglect, especially if you've never lived with other people. There is also the monetary issue to consider - your parents may be struggling to keep you fed and clothed not because of negligence, but because of economic problems. Answer the following questions to find out if you are a victim of negligence:

  • Are your parents always well dressed and fed, but unwilling to buy you suitable clothes or feed you well?
  • Do your clothes and shoes fit well? Are the parts clean and suitable for the climate?
  • Do your parents keep you clean with frequent baths? Do they check that you brush your teeth and comb your hair?
  • Do your parents keep you fed or do you go a long time without eating?
  • When you get sick, do they take you to a hospital or give you medicine?
  • Do you have any disabilities? If so, are your needs being met? Do you get the basics like water and food?
  • When your parents leave home, do they leave someone older to take care of you, or do they leave you alone to do as you please? How long are you alone?

Part 2 of 4: Identifying sexual abuse

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Step 1. Recognize inappropriate behavior

Any type of sexual contact between an adult and a child is considered abuse. An adult may threaten or use a position of power to harass or force a young person to engage in sexual activity with him. You are likely to be abused if your parents notice you getting naked (except when they aren't helping you get dressed, of course, if you're small), take pictures of you unclothed, touch areas of your body uncomfortably, or force them to touch their private parts.

Sometimes being touched sexually can feel good, which creates confusion. You don't have to be hurt to be abused

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Step 2. Learn to recognize the physical injuries of sexual abuse

Not all sexual abuse causes physical injury, but many acts cause bruises, bleeding, and other injuries. Sexual abuse can also cause pregnancy and disease transmission. The most common symptoms of sexual abuse are:

  • Difficulty walking or sitting due to physical pain;
  • Bruising, pain or bleeding in the penis, vagina or anus;
  • Pain when urinating or other signs of STDs, frequent fungal infections, or urinary tract infections.
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Step 3. Recognize sexual exploitation in relation to the media

Parents should not expose their children to pornography nor create pornography with their little ones. This includes exposure to sexually explicit content to make you more susceptible to such behavior or the sexual use of your images. Some examples:

  • Purposely exposing you to pornography (videos, photos, books, etc.);
  • Filming or photographing you naked for sexual purposes;
  • Write about your private parts.
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Step 4. Identify child sexual abuse

Sometimes a child can be sexually abused by another child; this usually happens when the former repeats the abuse she suffered from an adult. Little ones do not have an understanding of sex per se, which reinforces that such behaviors are a reflection of past abuse.

Talk to a trusted adult if you believe you know a child who has been sexually abused, just as you would tell someone if you were the victim

Part 3 of 4: Understanding Emotional Abuse

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Step 1. Learn to recognize verbal abuse

Your parents may yell at you to stop you from doing something dangerous or bad, but such an incident is not a sign of verbal abuse. Abuse is often characterized by constant name-calling, threats, and other harmful behavior.

  • If your parents yell or verbally scold you, that is not abuse. This type of discipline is usually adequate and purposeful as long as it doesn't get out of hand.
  • If your parents constantly yell or say hurtful things to you, even when you haven't done anything wrong, they are emotionally abusing you.
  • If your parents ridicule you or embarrass you regularly, they are emotionally abusing you.
  • Verbal threats can also be considered abuse.
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Step 2. Learn to recognize emotional neglect and disregard

If your parents ignore you, try to put you down, or sever your ties to other people (such as friends and close relatives), they are likely emotionally abusing you.

  • If a parent refuses to look at you, recognize you as a child, or call you by your real name, that is emotional abuse.
  • If a parent refuses to touch you, denies your emotional and physical needs, or says things that make you feel bad, they are emotionally abusing you.
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Step 3. Identify the insulation

Another form of emotional abuse used by some parents is to sever their child's ties with friends, family, and other important people. This is often done to avoid outside influences and maintain control over the children. Some abusive behavior:

  • Don't allow the child to be friends with other people because he doesn't like them.
  • Do not allow the child to bring visitors home or go to friends' houses.
  • Do not allow the child to do activities outside the home, even if they have the time or money to do so.
  • Monitor phone calls and other interactions.
  • Criticize others to keep the child away from friends002E from them
  • Taking the child out of extracurricular activities or changing schools because he doesn't like the people he's being exposed to.
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Step 4. Assess how your parents talk to you

It's wrong to despise you, say they don't want you, or criticize your personality. There's a huge difference between saying "you hurt your sister" and "you're mean, you're a bad person inside!" An abusive parent often makes children feel unwanted in the family. Some examples of abusive behavior:

  • Saying that you wish the child had never been born.
  • Swearing at the child with various names.
  • Saying that I would rather have another child, like a boy over a girl, or a child who doesn't have special needs.
  • Make fun of the child's looks or abilities.
  • Wishing for the child's death.
  • Bad-mouthing the child to someone else in his presence.
  • Talk about how the child ruined his parents' lives.
  • Evicting the child from the house.
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Step 5. Identify harmful behavior

Parents who expose their children to illegal or dangerous things and encourage them to do the same are abusive. Some examples:

  • Encourage the child to steal, use drugs, bully, etc.
  • Giving drugs or excessive alcohol. The same goes for parents who encourage young children to consume alcohol, even if "just a sip".
  • Encourage irresponsible promiscuity.
  • Encourage the child to hurt himself or others.
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Step 6. Pay attention to exploration

It takes a little common sense when demanding things from your children. For example, four-year-olds should not be expected to do dirty laundry, just as ten-year-olds should not be expected to take care of their younger siblings for an entire weekend. Also, children with special needs should not be expected to do the same things as children without special needs. Responsibilities and expectations must be related to the child's level of development. Some behaviors to keep an eye out for:

  • Expecting the child to do things that go beyond his developmental level.
  • Have the child take care of a relative, even if the child is too young or simply incapable.
  • Blaming the child for the behavior of others.
  • Expecting the child to perform a disproportionate amount of household chores.
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Step 7. Learn to identify terrorism

Suffering parental terrorism means being threatened and not feeling safe at home. Parents use the following tactics, among many others, to make their children afraid:

  • Putting a child, a sibling, a pet, or even a toy in danger as punishment.
  • Have extreme and unpredictable reactions.
  • Acting with violence against people, animals or objects in front of children (such as throwing a glass against a wall or kicking a pet).
  • Shouting, threatening or aggressively cursing.
  • Demanding too much from the child and threatening to hurt him if he fails.
  • Threatening to hurt yourself or others because of the child.
  • Abusing others in front of the child.
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Step 8. Identify the use of humiliation or denial of privacy, primarily as punishment

Abusing parents can invade their child's privacy or embarrass the child by becoming obsessed with finding out if the child is doing something they don't like. Such behavior is often accompanied by phrases such as "you live in my house and I make the rules". Some examples:

  • Force the child to do something shameful.
  • Go through your child's phone, diary, or computer.
  • Take off the child's bedroom door.
  • Filming the child's punishment and posting it on the internet.
  • Make fun of the son.
  • Follow the child when he is with friends.
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Step 9. Learn to recognize gaslighting

It is a type of abuse in which the person tries to convince the victim that their experiences are not real, causing them to doubt their own sanity. For example, a father might hit his son and call him lazy, just to say that he didn't do anything the next day. Other examples of gaslighting:

  • Call the child crazy or a liar.
  • Saying things like "It wasn't quite like that" or "I never said that."
  • Saying that the child is exaggerating.
  • Tell others that the child is delusional or lying.
  • Change the organization of things and insist that everything is the same.
  • Repeat things like "You did it on purpose" when the child makes a mistake.

Part 4 of 4: Seeking Help When Needed

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Step 1. Talk to a trusted adult

The first step in reporting any type of abuse is to talk to a person you trust. An adult can listen to what you have to say and determine if it really is abuse. Talk to a relative (an uncle or grandparent, for example), a family friend, a teacher, or even a neighbor.

  • Tell exactly what happened and explain the circumstances surrounding the incident.
  • The adult should help you identify whether you are being abused or not.
  • If he believes you are abused, he should contact the police. If he says you're being abused but doesn't do anything, do it yourself!
  • A teacher must know who to contact to help you stay safe. He will also likely have training to help him deal with the abuse.
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Step 2. Call and ask the authorities for help

If you are being abused, you need to call the police to be safe. Call immediately or contact a hotline to report a case of ongoing abuse.

  • Dial 911 if you believe one of your parents is about to hurt you. It's very common for abusive parents to show signs that they're going to attack you - either because you see he's drunk or because you hear screaming. Regardless of the signal, if you believe you are about to be attacked, call the police and have them intercede.
  • Dial 100 to contact Human Rights and get protection. Obviously, be careful that your parents don't see you contacting the number.
  • As there is no specific hotline in Brazil for dealing with child abuse, the best option is to call the police, who are available 24 hours a day.
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Step 3. Try to escape danger

If you're in immediate danger and you've called the police, try to hide in a safe place until the authorities arrive, locking yourself in a room with a phone if possible. Another option might be to hide in the house of a neighbor, friend or relative.


  • If you have acknowledged any of the above abuses in any way, remember that you are the victim and it's not your fault. You do not do anything wrong.
  • Talk about what's going on with a trusted adult.
  • If the situation worsens or you are in immediate danger, call the police. If you don't think it's safe to call the police from home, ask a friend to contact the authorities.
  • Defend yourself! Parents often think that they can beat their children because they think they are weak. Don't let them think that!
  • If your defense could make them nervous and increase violence, be careful.


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