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Physical abuse

Two girls physically fighting.

Physical abuse is when a person touches your body in an unwanted or violent way. This may include: hitting, kicking, pulling hair, pushing, biting, choking, or using a weapon or other item to hurt you. Different kinds of people can be physical abusers — parents, stepparents, aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters, grandparents, friends, babysitters, boyfriends, girlfriends, teachers, or coaches.

A lot of the time, people involved in an abusive relationship don’t recognize that they are being abused. It’s easy to look past abuse if you love someone, but you shouldn’t do that. You could be in danger. Don’t accept abuse from anyone. You are worth more than that.

How can you stay safe if someone is hurting you?

  • Tell someone you know and trust. The most important thing you should do if someone is hurting you is to tell someone you know and trust. Try talking to a teacher or counselor at school, or a family member who is trustworthy.
  • Make a plan to get away. Be sure to carry a cell phone programmed with important phone numbers. Also keep important numbers on a small piece of paper that you can easily get to. For example, if your boyfriend is hurting you, call your parents or a trusted friend to come and get you. If your parent is hurting you, call a friend or a friend’s parent. If you are old enough to drive, make sure there is gas in your car. Sometimes people who are being abused need to find a safe place to live for a time. Safe shelters can be found in your local phone book. Sometimes a person can stay with another relative or a friend.

Where can I find help if I am being physically abused?

National Domestic Violence Hotline:
1-800-799-SAFE (1-800-799-7233) or
1-800-787-3224 (TDD)

Boys Town National Hotline:
1-800-448-3000 or 1-800-448-1833 (TDD)

Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline:
1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453)


Content last reviewed September 22, 2009
Page last updated October 31, 2013