What is physical abuse?

Physical abuse is the most visible form of abuse and there are a couple of different types of physical abuse a person may experience. Physical violence can be something that tends to start slowly or less obviously. If you have been physically abused there are a number of things you can do to get support.

This might be a problem if you’re:

  • Feeling afraid of your partner all the time
  • Avoiding certain topics because you’re afraid of making your partner angry
  • Feeling like you can’t do anything right, or you are walking on eggshells around their anger and rages
  • Believing that you deserve to be hurt or mistreated
  • Feeling emotionally numb

What is physical abuse?

Physical abuse basically involves a person using physical force which causes, or could cause, harm.

Types of physical abuse

Some types of abuse include:

  • Scratching or biting
  • Pushing or shoving
  • Slapping
  • Kicking
  • Choking or strangling
  • Throwing things
  • Forced feeding or denial of food
  • Use of weapons
  • Physical restraint (such as pinning against a wall, floor, bed etc)
  • Reckless driving

How it starts?

Many survivors of physical abuse say that the violence started small with just a slap or a push, then got more intense over time.

An abuser will often blame something or someone else for the violence, including blaming the victim for saying or doing something which caused the violent behaviour. Sometimes the abuser will excuse their behaviour as being a result of alcohol or drugs, stress or frustration.

It is also quite common for the abuser to be apologetic after the assault. The person who behaved violently will quite often regret their actions, which makes it more difficult for the victim of assault to leave the relationship.

What should I do if I’ve been physically abused?

If you have been physically abused it is really important that you seek help. Physical abuse isn’t something that you should have to deal with on your own and the right support will make handling the situation much easier on you. There are a number of services which can help if you need someone to talk to. Find out more about what to do if you’re in an abusive relationship.

Most importantly, if you are currently fearful or believe you are in danger, contact emergency services (000) immediately.

What can I do now?

  • If you're in immediate danger call 000.
  • Learn more about different types of abuse.
  • Trust your instincts. If you don't feel safe, remove yourself from the situation.
Last reviewed: 04 May, 2016
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