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What is Abuse? What is Abuse?
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What is abuse?
Abuse is any action that hurts you whether it is physical, emotional or another form of hurt. Violence or abuse is not always easy to recognize. Bullying, cyber bullying or even not having your needs taken care of are forms of abuse. No one has the right to hurt you either by hitting you, yelling at you, or doing things that make you feel uncomfortable.

What is neglect?
Neglect is when a parent or guardian does not take care of your basic needs including food, home, clothes, and visits to the doctor. If you are hungry all the time, don’t have warm clothes in the winter or if your parent or guardian is using drugs or alcohol while watching you, you may be neglected.

What is physical abuse?
Pushing you, pinching, hitting, biting, pulling hair or using a weapon against you are examples of physical abuse.  If a person does these things because they are trying to hurt you they are abusing you. Physical abuse can cause bruises, broken bones or even worse. Not all physical abuse leaves marks. In babies, shaking is a form of abuse and can cause Shaken Baby Syndrome, which could lead to death.

What is emotional abuse?
Hitting or punching can leave marks on your skin but emotional abuse can also leave scars. Emotional or verbal abuse is when a person says something or does something that makes you feel bad about yourself, scares you or embarrasses you. Yelling at you, saying mean things to you or embarrassing you in front of others are examples of emotional abuse. Emotional abuse is often hard for others to see because it doesn’t leave marks you can see on the skin like physical abuse might. It can make you feel lonely and unloved and is hard to explain to other people. It’s important for you to talk to someone you trust who can help you understand what’s going on and tell you that you don’t deserve to be treated this way.

Is touching abuse?
There are other forms of abuse that happen when a person touches you, makes you touch them or says things that make you feel uncomfortable. Abusers who touch you where and when you don’t want can make you feel like you can’t tell them no or may even threaten you if you say no. You may feel very embarrassed about this or even guilty because you didn’t do anything to stop it. It is not your fault. Abusers are taking advantage of your feelings and it’s important to talk to someone you trust who can help you understand what’s going on and stop it from happening again.

Is bullying abuse?
With the Internet and online games or chat rooms bullying is no longer just at school. Bullying is when a person tries to scare you, often threatening to hit you or spread rumours about you. Bullying will keep happening until you talk to someone you trust who can stop the bully. Bullies often have their own problems and need someone to talk to but are unable to deal with their feelings and take it out on other people instead.

What type of people abuse?
Anyone is capable of abusing another person. It could be a parent who has lost control of themselves and is hurting their children. It could be a boyfriend who tells his girlfriend what she can and can’t wear or who she can spend her time with. It could be a friend of the family, a neighbour, teacher, or babysitter. Abusers aren’t easy to spot, they don’t all look mean or scary, they could be very nice normally but anyone who treats you badly, hits you, puts you down or bullies you is an abuser.

Why do people abuse?
There is no one reason why one person hurts another but if you are the one being hurt it is important to understand that it’s not your fault. For some abusers alcohol or drug use can mess up their minds so they can’t control their anger. For others they may have grown up in an abusive home and believe that it’s normal or ok. Sometimes people try to control or put other people down just to feel better about themselves. Regardless of the reason, it is not ok to hurt people and the abuser should get help to stop the cycle of abuse.

Is abuse my fault?
NO! Abusers may lie to you by telling you you’ve done something wrong or you deserve it. This is not true and it’s wrong for them to make you feel this way. No matter what, no one deserves to be hurt.

How do I stop abuse?
You have to talk about what’s happening to you. It may be hard, it may be embarrassing but telling someone is the only way it will stop. Parents, elders, teachers, neighbours, police officers, and doctors can help you.  If you don’t feel like you can talk to anyone you know you can always get help by calling the Kids Help Phone at 1-800-668-6868. The person hurting you will tell you that they will hurt you more or hurt someone you care about if you tell. They say this because they know what they are doing is wrong and that if you tell someone they will get in trouble.

Who can I talk to?
Talk to an adult you trust. If they don’t believe you talk to someone else until action is taken. Talk to a parent, elder, teacher, counsellor, neighbour, police officer or doctor. The sooner you talk to someone, the sooner the abuse will stop. If you are scared you can call the Kid’s Help Phone for advice at 1-800-668-6868. If its an emergency call 911.

What will happen to the abuser?
A person who hurts another person will get the help they need. It may be counselling to help them work with their anger or in more serious cases they could go to jail. 

What if a friend is being hurt?
Talk to the person who is being abused and be there as a shoulder to lean on. Remind them that its not their fault. Encourage them to seek help no matter what and keep encouraging them until they do something to stop the abuse.

How do I get a bully off my back?
Growing up is tough, tougher if you have to deal with a bully.  It’s important to talk to an adult you trust. Bullies often have their own problems and are unable to work through their feelings so they take it out on other people instead. Try things like ignoring the bully and simply walking away, even try using jokes when confronted. Bullies who can’t scare you will often give up. If they continue you should talk to a school counsellor or teacher for help.

Why do we get angry?
Everyone gets angry or mad sometimes. It could be hormonal changes causing mood swings. It could be that you are a person who feels their emotions strongly. You may also behave the way you’ve seen older role models act. Sometimes people who get mad are acting on emotions that they aren’t sharing. In any case it is important to understand how to control your anger.

What if my anger is out of control?
If you are getting into a lot of fights or always feel mad inside you might need help working through your anger.  Parents, teachers, and counsellors are great listeners and can help you identify reasons for your anger. If you don’t want to talk to someone you know the Kids Help Phone is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week by phone or online.

Just remember that anger is a normal emotion but learning how to work with it and keep it under control is all part of growing up. Asking for help can be the bravest thing you do.

Am I in a healthy relationship?
Boyfriends and girlfriends, and even friends need to have boundaries. Having boundaries is a way of making sure that your friends and boyfriend or girlfriend treat you with respect and don’t make you feel uncomfortable. Young girls should understand their rights and know how they should and shouldn’t be treated by a boyfriend. No one should tell you who you can and can’t hang out with, what you should wear or where you can go.  A healthy relationship is one where you support each other, make each other feel safe and treat each other with kindness and respect. Friends and boyfriends should never make you feel bad about yourself by putting you down and should NEVER physically hurt you. If you feel uncomfortable with the way your boyfriend treats you, ask a role model for guidance. Always trust your gut feelings. If you feel unsafe with someone, get out of the relationship.

Does abuse leave a mark?
Abuse doesn’t always leave scars you can see. Certain types of abuse like verbal and emotional abuse cause damage inside you. These are the kind of marks that are hard to see. Marks like bruises, cuts, burns and scrapes are easy to recognize while emotional scars can go unnoticed. A girl who’s father puts her down may not have cuts or bruises but is hurting her just the same.

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