Signs of abuse, in children and adults, aren’t always clear. Of course, you may suspect abuse if you see obvious bruises and witness disparaging behavior from a parent or spouse. In many cases, however, abuse isn’t clear to outside observers. The abused is often scared of their abuser or has feelings for them and is reluctant to speak up.
Abuse comes in many forms. You may think of physical abuse, but emotional and sexual abuse are quite damaging as is neglect. If you observe any of the following, it could be a sign that a person you know is dealing with abuse. You can always direct them to our office of South Plains Rural Health for guidance and help.
1. You witness bullying.
If you notice a child (or adult for that matter) is being bullied by a caregiver, parent, or loved one, it can be a sign of a larger abuse problem. This abuser may fail to provide the abused with love and affection and refuse to provide emotional support and guidance. You may see regular shaming and criticism of the abused person by the abuser, too.
2. You notice the person is being cut off from family and friends.
Children who are being physically abused may withdraw from friends and activities. Abusers often encourage this withdrawal, too. If you notice a friend or child being more reclusive than usual, don’t be afraid to check in and make sure everything is OK.
3. You witness physical abuse or the signs of physical abuse.
Bruises or cuts that are frequent and don’t really match the suspected abused person’s story may indicate abuse. Burns, bite marks, and damage to the scalp indicate abuse.
If you witness any abusive physical behavior, such as a parent grabbing a child roughly or throwing objects at a child, it’s a fair guess that abuse is occurring.
4. Unusual behavior
A child who exhibits unusual behavior, such as always being on high alert or who is afraid to go home may be subject to abuse. You may notice a person who you suspect is undergoing abuse always chooses to wear long sleeves or long pants, even on warm days, to cover up evidence of bruises. You may also find a child who’s being abused is constantly worried about doing something wrong.
5. Emotional or physical disturbances
An abused child may be depressed or have an apparent low self-esteem. Speech development and learning may also be delayed. Abused children often do poorly in school, too. From a physical perspective, abused people may suffer from stomach distress and headaches, with no discernible cause.
If you feel you’re in an abusive relationship, seek help from South Plains Rural Health – or any support organization – immediately. If you suspect a child or adult is in an abusive situation and get a chance to talk to them, ask if anything is wrong. Bring up your concerns, and let the person know that you offer safety and can help.
If you aren’t sure you can handle the situation on your own, let the experts at our office be of assistance. Call the office to discuss your concerns and the best way to intervene.