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Physical abuse is the act of hurting someone physically. This could mean hitting, punching or kicking someone, or it could mean neglect and lack of care.

Comment of the week

Soraya Solomon

Nicro CEO


We've been speaking for too long, we've got to take action.

We need YOU!

"If you change nothing - Nothing will change"

We are calling on ALL South Africans to join us in BEING the change we want in our country. Find out how you can play a part in doing something about crime and its impact on our society. 

What is physical abuse? Well, physical, abuse is when someone hurts or injures you on purpose.

No, this does not only mean hitting or kicking, it can include anything from hair pulling and beating with objects to throwing and shaking.

Even if you feel that you were in the wrong and it was your fault, NO ONE has the right to hurt you in this way!

Read on to find out how physical abuse can make you feel, what defines physical abuse and who can physically abuse you...

Physical abuse can make you feel:

  • Frightened and anxious
  • depressed and sad
  • lonely and isolated
  • like you want to self-harm or run away
  • angry
  • worthless with low self-esteem
  • unable to eat normally
  • unable to sleep properly
  • numb or like you've been cut off from your feelings
  • unable to concentrate at school or college
  • guilty and worried that it is your fault (it isn't)

What are examples of physical abuse?

Physical abuse is when someone is hurting you. This could be hurting you with their hands, their feet, or an object. It can involve:

  • hitting and smacking
  • slapping
  • punching
  • pinching
  • kicking
  • shaking or suffocating you
  • scalding or burning you
  • scratching or biting
  • hair pulling
  • spitting or throwing things at you

Anybody can be physically abusive, including:

  • your mum or your dad
  • brothers and sisters
  • other people in your family
  • a boyfriend or girlfriend
  • other adults or young people.

Bullying may often include physical abuse.


Sometimes, when we are used to something happening, it feels like it is part of normal life. This can make it hard to understand that what is happening is wrong. It can happen if you are in a situation where abuse has been going on for a long time.

Always remember, it’s not your fault. No one has the right to hurt somebody else. They may say they have reasons for doing it, but none of those reasons are acceptable.

The person who is hurting you might tell you that it’s your fault or that they are punishing you. But nothing you have done makes it okay for someone to hurt you. Abuse is never your fault.

If someone is hurting you, they are aware of what they are doing and know it is wrong. They may try to stop you telling anyone about what is happening.

Everyone has the right to be safe, and no one has the right to hurt you. It shouldn’t happen and can be stopped. You can get help by talking to NICRO or to someone you trust.

If you are being physically abused and feel you are in immediate danger, you should consider calling the police or someone who can help.

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