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Physical abuse

Physical abuse is deliberately hurting or injuring someone. This could include hitting, smacking, pushing, shaking, spitting, pinching, scalding, misusing medication, inappropriate restraint, inappropriate physical punishments or other ways of causing physical harm.

There may not be a single sign or symptom to look out for, but possible indicators of physical abuse can include:

  • no explanation of injuries or inconsistency with the account of what happened
  • injuries inconsistent with the person’s lifestyle
  • bruising:
    • on one or both arms (like a series of finger marks) which may indicate the person has been shaken, grabbed, or restrained
    • of one or both of the inner thighs (may indicate sexual abuse)
    • that goes all the way around arms, legs or torso (may indicate that a person has been physically restrained)
    • that is multi-coloured (indicating that they were sustained over time)
  • cuts, welts, burns and/or marks on the body or loss of hair in clumps
  • marks on the arms, legs or torso that resemble rope or strap marks
  • frequent injuries
  • unexplained falls
  • subdued or changed behaviour in the presence of a particular person
  • signs of malnutrition
  • failure to seek medical treatment or frequently changing GP
  • withholding or refusing necessary medication

Getting help

Age UK

Age UK is the country's largest charity dedicated to helping everyone make the most of later life. We provide companionship, advice and support for older people who need it most.

0800 169 8787

Victim Support

An independent charity who work towards a world where people affected by crime or traumatic events get the support they need and the respect they deserve. They help people feel safer and find the strength to move beyond crime. Their support is free, confidential and tailored to your needs.

0300 303 0554

Victim Care

A directory to help victims of crime find the support they need and provide you with as much general information and advice as possible within one place.

01392 475900