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Family Abuse

Family abuse can include a number of different abuse types from elder abuse to domestic violence which take place within a family setting. 

There are perceptions that family abuse is carried out by parents on children, but in reality it can be any member of the family can be the victim or the abuser. 

It can also seem impossible that something like this is going on within a family, but it does happen, and it’s likely that most family members will be unaware of what’s happening either. More than likely the knowledge of the abuse is only between the victim and their abuser. 

Family abuse is not something that we’d like to consider happening within our own family dynamic and it can be hard to know what to do or who to turn to if you are victim to, or witness, abuse by a family member. However, it’s important that you do speak out and the abuse is reported. It’s vital, like with any abuse case, that this pattern of behaviour is stopped, justice is awarded to the victim and they have the chance to recover from the trauma of the experience. 

Types of family abuse 

Abuse that takes place within a family can refer to a number of different types of abuse, these can include: 

Trust that’s built within families can mean it’s harder for victim’s to see what is actually happening to them, it can also mean that they’re often more susceptible to abuse. It can be harder for victim’s to reveal the abuse they’re suffering from as well for fear of upsetting or dismantling family life.  

Ways family abuse can happen 

There are a number of different ways that family abuse can happen, some of these are: 

Physical abuse 

Physical abuse carried out by a family member usually involves controlling a person through physical means. This type of contact is used to intimidate the victim and often results in injury or pain as a result. Examples of physical harm that might be used include punching, biting, kicking, pulling hair, scratching. 

Emotional abuse 

Emotional abuse is sometimes referred to as psychological abuse, and  it can be harder to see the pain inflicted by this type of abuse because there is no mark left behind. The abuser will use words and actions to mistreat another person with threatening, bullying and intimidating behaviour. 

The intention with this type of abuse is to make the victim feel humiliated and worthless. Other actions that can be deemed emotional abuse include making threats, abusing someone else they love in front of them or ignoring someone completely. 

Sexual abuse 

Sexual abuse within a family is used as a way to demonstrate power and authority over the victim, using sexual activities to do so. It often involves physical contact, but it can also occur without it, such as making comments about a young person’s body or forcing them to watch sexual acts. 


Neglect as a type of family abuse is when a family member fails in their duty of care to a child. This often means that a child can be left hungry, dirty, with little to no clothing or shelter, health care and even emotional support.