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Abuse is shown in four main ways, each have their own warning signs and each are equally important and dangerous. Abuse is a risk factor for suicide. The four categories are:

  • Verbal/ Emotional

  • Physical

  • Sexual

  • Neglect

Gaslighting is also an important aspect of abuse that should be discussed in detail.

Verbal and Emotional Abuse

Verbal and emotional abuse are among the more common forms of abuse. Some signs that someone is being verbally or emotionally abusive include:

  • Degrading

  • Gaslighting

  • Condescending

  • Circular arguments

  • Withholding

  • Accusations

  • Blame

  • Threats

  • Criticism 

  • Manipulation

People who are being verbally and emotionally abused often invalidate their feelings due to gaslighting. 


Gaslighting includes discounting a partner’s emotions and making them wonder if their feelings are meaningless and/or wrong. This is often common in emotional abuse

Physical Abuse

Physical abuse symptoms include:

  • bruises

  • broken or fractured bones

  • burns or scalds

  • bite marks.

It can also include other injuries and health problems, such as:

  • scarring

  • the effects of poisoning, such as vomiting, drowsiness or seizures

  • breathing problems from drowning, suffocation or poisoning.

Sexual Abuse

Child Sexual Abuse is:

•“Child Sexual Abuse (CSA) is defined as the involvement of a child (ages 0–17 years old) in sexual activity to provide sexual gratification or financial benefit to the perpetrator

•Includes grooming behaviors

•91% of child abuse is by someone in a position of trust

Some warning signs of sexual abuse include:

  •  nightmares or other sleep problems without an explanation

  • Seems distracted or distant at odd times

  • Has a sudden change in eating habits

    • Refuses to eat

    • Loses or drastically increases appetite

    •  Has trouble swallowing.

  • Sudden mood swings: rage, fear, insecurity or withdrawal

  • Leaves “clues” that seem likely to provoke a discussion about sexual issues

  • Writes, draws, plays or dreams of sexual or frightening images

  • Develops new or unusual fear of certain people or places

  • Refuses to talk about a secret shared with an adult or older child

  • Talks about a new older friend

  • Suddenly has money, toys or other gifts without reason

  • Thinks of self or body as repulsive, dirty or bad

  • Exhibits adult-like sexual behaviors, language and knowledge

What is consent

Consent occurs when one person voluntarily agrees to the proposal or desires of another. ALWAYS ask for explicit consent before engaging in sexual activity. If another individual is intoxicated, the answer is ALWAYS no. Coercion is also a form of rape, if the initial answer was no and the victim was pushed into saying yes, that is rape. 


Neglect is much more difficult to recognize, teachers must be on high alert to detect this kind of abuse. There are four main types:

Physical neglect

  • A child's basic needs, such as food, clothing or shelter, are not met or they aren't properly supervised or kept safe.

Educational neglect

  • A parent doesn't ensure their child is given an education.

Emotional neglect

  • A child doesn't get the nurture and stimulation they need. This could be through ignoring, humiliating, intimidating or isolating them.

Medical neglect

  • A child isn't given proper health care. This includes dental care and refusing or ignoring medical recommendations.

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