Experiencing abuse from a parent can be terrifying. But you’re not alone. This fact sheet will outline what abuse is, the different kinds of abuse, its signs and effects, and most importantly, advice on getting help if your parent is being abusive.
This may be helpful if:
- Your parent/s are hurting you emotionally or physically
- You want to learn about the different kinds of parent-child abuse
- You want to get help for an abusive situation
What is abuse from a parent?
Abuse occurs when a person uses certain actions or behaviours to control, scare, harm or intimidate another person. Abusive behaviours generally occur continuously or repeatedly, and are often a way of establishing control and power. Parent-child abuse is when the parent or caregiver is the perpetrator and the child is the victim.
While abuse can often involve violence, it can also take different forms including emotional, sexual and financial abuse. It's important to know that abusive behaviours are never okay. The act of abuse towards a child is illegal under Australia law, and if a parent is being abusive, they can be convicted of a serious crime.
Different kinds of abuse
Physical abuse involves a person using physical force with the aim of causing or threatening harm. This may involve actions such as slapping, kicking, forced feeding or denial of food, use of weapons, or choking and strangling.
Emotional abuse aims to make a person feel worthless and powerless, while also enforcing the perpetrator's control and dominance over their victim. Examples of emotional abuse include: withdrawing affection or emotional support, withholding important information, name-calling, lying, excessive criticism, social isolation, and emotional manipulation.
Sexual abuse involves behaviour that exposes a person to sexual acts, materials, or intentions, without their consent. This may be sexual touching, comments, threats, and actions like restricting birth control.
Financial abuse involves behaviours such as controlling a person's earnings and bank details, preventing or forbidding a person to work, and using their money to maintain power in a relationship.
This involves situations where a parent does not provide basic care, such as proper food, suitable clothing, medical care, supervision, a clean safe home, and emotional support, love and affection.
The effects of having an abusive parent
Short-term/immediate effects may include:
Long-term effects may include:
Getting help for abuse
It can be challenging to get help if you or someone you know is experiencing abuse, but help and support is definitely available. You can find support by chatting to someone like a school counsellor, a psychologist, or a good friend.
If meeting face to face isn’t your thing, you can also seek support online (via webchat) or by ringing a helpline like Lifeline, Kids Helpine, DV Connect and 1800 RESPECT.
In financial situations, legal aid centres in every state can provide legal assistance, free of charge.