Physical abuse is an action by one person that physical harms another, likely causing pain or injury. Physical abuse can occur as child abuse, domestic abuse, elder abuse, and in other contexts. Being abused in childhood and sometimes adulthood can cause psychological conditions, including Dissociative Disorders and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder.
- Constant injuries (burns, fractures, bruises)
- Making excuses for injuries
- Unexplainable physical markings on the body
- Not seeking medical attention for injuries
- Attempting to hide markings on the body
- Embarrassment when asked about markings
People who commit abuse can be family members, coworkers, or even bullies at school. Most theories of physical abuse hold that abusers use physical domination to control their victims. They may have learned at a young age that using physical aggression gains them power and gets them what they want. Other studies show that children who are exposed to abuse at a young age become part of a re-victimization cycle: either becoming an abuser later in life or finding themselves the victim in new contexts.
If a person must regularly interact with their abuser then it is unlikely for them to seek treatment for fear of drawing attention to the situation and potentially angering the abuser. Intervention programs are helpful for teaching parents healthy ways of disciplining their children. Later in life, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy can be helpful for victims who struggle with the aftereffects of childhood abuse. A therapist will help a client deal with shame surrounding experiences of abuse and create healthy behavior patterns to prevent it from reoccurring.
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