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Domestic Violence – Physical Abuse

Domestic Violence – Physical Abuse

Physical abuse is the most visible form of abuse. Physical abuse is the use of physical force against another person in a way that ends up injuring the person or endangers that person; in addition it is the non-accidental use of physical force to coerce or to inflict bodily harm. It often causes physical discomfort, pain or injury, but the person doesn’t have to have an injury to have experienced physical abuse. The worst part of physical abuse is that you can get extremely hurt and can abusers behaviours can range from physical restraint to murder. It may consist of just one incident or it may happen repeatedly.

Physical abusers use violence to get control over others. Abusers make excuses like: “I was upset/having a bad day”, or “you deserved it”. Physical violence is usually accompanied by psychological abuse and in many cases by sexual assault. Physical assault or physical battering is a crime, whether it occurs inside a family or outside the family. The police are empowered to protect you from physical attack.

The abuser or batterer may be an acquaintance; son, daughter, grandchildren, or someone else related to you. Physical abuse that is perpetrated by spouses or intimate partners in order to gain power and control over the victim is described in the section on domestic violence.

Physical abuse includes

  • Assault or attacked with a weapon such as a knife, firearms, household objects
  • Breaking bones, fractures, missing teeth, internal bleeding
  • Burning and scalds
  • Hair pulling, biting, shaking, pushing, pinching, choking, kicking, confinement, slapping, hitting, punching, using weapons
  • Holding, confinement, rough handling, strangulation or any dangerous or harmful use of force or restraint
  • Injuries include black eyes, cut lips, deafness, blindness
  • Injury sites are internally as well as externally and often concealed by clothing or hair
  • Miscarriages, and injuries to a fetus and death
  • Murder
  • Pinching, biting
  • Pushing, throwing, kicking
  • Slapping, grabbing, hitting, punching, beating, tripping, battering, bruising, choking, shaking, shoves, stamping, being thrown across the room or down the stairs

Warning signs and indicators

  • A history of similar injuries, and/or numerous or suspicious hospitalizations
  • Abrasions on arms, legs, or torso that resemble rope or strap marks
  • Bruises. The following types of bruises are rarely accidental:
  • Bilateral bruising to the arms (may indicate that the person has been shaken, grabbed, or restrained)
  • Bilateral bruising of the inner thighs (may indicate sexual abuse)
  • “Wrap around” bruises that encircle an older person’s arms, legs, or torso (may indicate that the person has been physically restrained)
  • Multicolored bruises (indicating that they were sustained over time)
  • Injuries healing through “secondary intention” (indicating that they did not receive appropriate care)
  • Signs of traumatic hair and tooth loss
  • Delay between onset of injury and seeking medical care
  • Denial:
  • Being publicly gentle and patient
  • Crying and begging for forgiveness
  • Saying it will never happen again
  • Saying the abuse doesn’t happen
  • Saying you caused the abusive behaviour
  • Family members provide different explanations of how injuries were sustained
  • Injuries are unexplained or explanations are implausible (they do not “fit” with the injuries observed)
  • Internal injuries evidenced by pain, difficulty with normal functioning of organs, and bleeding from body orifices
  • Physical indicators on the victim:
  • Sprains, dislocations, fractures, or broken bones
  • Burns from cigarettes, appliances, or hot water
  • Victims are brought to different medical facilities for treatment to prevent medical practitioners from observing a pattern of abuse

Ways to deal with physical abuse

  • Do whatever you feel comfortable doing about the situation. You are the only one who knows your situation best. You can make the best decision about how to stop your abuser. You can:
  • If you are dating someone who keeps abusing you, leaving them is hard, but can be really good for you
  • If you live in an abusive home, tell an adult you trust. This can be a teacher or friend’s parent who can help
  • Set boundaries for the relationship. Tell them that you will leave if these limits are crossed
  • Talk to your abuser about the problem

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