Child Abuse: Physical

Physical abuse involves a person using physical force against a child, which causes or could harm them. It is a tool or a control tactic that someone uses to gain control over another person. This physical force is intentional and can happen to not only children and youth but adults as well. Physical abuse often co-occurs with other forms of abuse, such as sexual and emotional.

"It is a tool or control tactic that someone uses to gain control over another person"

How Prevalent Is It?

According to Statistics Canada (2015), approximately 30% of individuals aged 15 or older experienced some form of physical and/or sexual abuse in childhood at the hands of an adult.

Physical abuse was the most common form of abuse, reported by 26% of Canadians.

Childhood physical abuse was more common among males (32%) than females (27%).

What Does It Include?

  • Scratching or biting

  • Pushing or shoving

  • Slapping

  • Kicking

  • Choking or strangling

  • Throwing things

  • Force-feeding or denying food

  • Using weapons or objects that could hurt someone physically

  • Restraining someone (Such as pinning them against a wall, floor, bed, etc.)

  • Reckless driving

  • Other acts that hurt or threaten

All of these acts are considered crimes in Canada.

How to Tell If Someone Is Being Physically Abused?

There are several warning signs associated with abuse. However, outward visible signs are usually the first indication that someone is a victim of physical abuse. These signs include bruises, broken bones, burns, and/or head injuries (Ex. Concussions).

Potential Consequences of Physical Abuse

Physical abuse can have short and long-term effects on children and youth. It can lead to poor mental and physical health later in life. Some effects include:

  • Anxiety

  • Behaviour issues

  • Criminal behaviour

  • Depression

  • Drug and alcohol problems

  • Eating disorders

  • Issues at school

  • Obesity

  • Risky sexual behaviour

  • Suicidal thoughts and/or attempts

Getting Help

Often those that are physically abused feel trapped and like there is no help available for them. However, this is not the case. There are services available to help those being physically abused. For immediate help, please seek medical attention. This may require you to call 9-1-1, go to the emergency room, or call your doctor. In addition, for those who have been abused but are not currently injured, help lines and hotlines are available. Please refer to our Resources section for details about resources available.

Written By: Dayna