For Children

What can you do in situations of abuse?

Violence and other forms of abuse

What is abuse?

Abuse is any voluntary action by a person who is in a relationship of responsibility, trust or authority towards the child, whereby the child’s life, physical, mental, spiritual, moral or social development, bodily integrity, physical or mental health is endangered and is classified as physical, emotional, psychological, sexual and economic abuse.

Types of abuse

  1. Physical abuse consists of physical harm to the child in single or repeated interactions with a person in a position of responsibility, power or trust, and is a result of deliberate acts that cause present or future suffering to the child.
  2. Emotional abuse is the repeated exposure of the child to situations whose emotional impact exceeds the child’s capacity for psychological integration. Emotional abuse comes from an adult who is in a relationship of trust, responsibility or power with the child. Specifically, these acts can include: verbal and non-verbal humiliation, intimidation, threats, bullying, restriction of freedom of action, denigration, unfair accusations, discrimination, ridicule and other hostile or rejecting attitudes towards the child.
  3. Sexual abuse is the involvement of a dependent and developmentally immature minor child or young person in sexual activities that he or she is unable to understand, that are inappropriate for his or her age or development which sexual activities he or she is coerced into by violence or seduction, or which transgress social taboos related to family roles; these activities usually include physical contact, with or without sexual penetration.

If emotional abuse is repetitive and sustained, it leads to damage to various levels of the child’s psyche (e.g. personality structure, affect, cognition, adjustment, perception), becoming psychological abuse, which has more serious consequences than emotional abuse and long-term consequences for the child’s development.

The child who witnesses domestic violence indirectly suffers emotional and/or psychological abuse.

What can you do in situations of abuse?

  • Support can come from friends and trusted adults;
  • In emergency situations, the police should be called;
  • Specialised support is offered by social services (public or non-governmental organisations – NGOs);
  • Medical assistance may sometimes be needed;
  • Legal advice may also be sought;
  • For emergency interventions, but also for support and advice, there are helplines available through special telephone lines (child helpline 119) or the internet.