Young Carers

I am being
Abused or Neglected

Abuse of any kind can have a big impact on you – not just now, but also for a long time into the future. Being abused, or seeing someone else being abused, can cause trauma and stop you from living the life you want to live and enjoying yourself. 

Neglect is also a form of abuse. Neglect is when you’re not getting the important things that you need at home. Neglect can be physical. It can also be emotional 

What is Abuse?

Abuse is anything someone does that’s meant to cause harm to someone else.

There are many different kinds of abuse.  The charity, Childline, provides information about these. Four of the most common kinds of abuse, which can often affect children and young people, are:

  • Emotional abuse: When someone always puts you down, shouts at you, or makes you feel bad – this can really damage your self-esteem and the way you feel about yourself
  • Physical abuse: When someone hurts or injures you on purpose – this can cause pain, cuts, bruising or broken bones
  • Sexual abuse: When someone forces, tricks or pressures you to do something sexual – including forcing you to get married or be married under the age of 16, or when someone shares your intimate pictures without your consent
  • Domestic abuse: When a grown-up threatens, bullies or hurts another adult in the family

Abuse of any kind can have a big impact on you – not just now, but also for a long time into the future. Being abused, or seeing someone else being abused, can cause trauma and stop you from living the life you want to live and enjoying yourself.

There may be lots of reasons why a person abuses someone else. Maybe they feel stressed, upset, frustrated or angry about something. Or they might feel a need to control other people, especially if they’re struggling to control their own life. Only the person doing this would know why they’re acting this way – and even they may not be able to explain it. But whatever their reasons are, it’s never okay. And it’s not your fault.

Neglect is also a form of abuse. Neglect is when you’re not getting the important things that you need at home. Neglect can be physical (for example, if you’re not getting enough food to eat, or you don’t have clean clothes to wear, or your home is cold and damp). It can also be emotional (for example, if you’re not given affection, your parents or carers never spend time with you and don’t seem to notice things about you – like when you do something really good, or when you’re unwell).

If you are being neglected at home, there could be lots of reasons for this. Your family may be doing their best, but they might just not have enough money.  Maybe someone who is meant to be looking after you has problems of their own – with alcohol or drugs – or they might be ill – with a physical or mental health problem. Or maybe all their time is taken up looking after someone else in the family who has a physical or mental health problem. Whatever is happening, it is not your fault. If you’re a young person providing care for someone else in your home, it can be easy to forget that.

If you are being abused or neglected at home, it’s important to tell someone. All children and young people have the right to be looked after and cared for properly. Sometimes parents and carers can’t manage this by themselves, and they may need help. This can be hard for them to admit, sometimes, but there’s lots of help available.

Speaking out as soon as you can makes it less likely you will have problems later.



Being abused by someone outside the home?

Maybe you’re not being abused at home, but you’re in a relationship with someone (a boyfriend or girlfriend, or someone you’re not even that close to) who is abusing you. It is not unusual for young carers who are neglected at home to end up in abusive relationships outside the home. Young carers can also be at risk of grooming or exploitation by older people (usually men). This is because they are isolated from friends due to their caring responsibilities. If a grown-up from outside the family buys them lots of things and gives them lots of attention, they might enjoy this – for a while – until the grown-up starts making demands and asking them to do things they don’t really want to do.

Parents who have physical or mental health problems may not always be able to support and keep tabs on their child as much as they would like to. In these situations, their child may also not want to share their worries with their parents in order to protect them.

However, if someone outside your home is abusing you, whatever your relationship to them is, it’s very important that you tell someone.

Action you can take right now

You might feel like you still like or love the person who's abusing or neglecting you, even though you don’t like what they're doing. Especially if the person is your mum or dad. Maybe the abuse only happens at certain times, like when they've been drinking or when they feel unwell.

But abuse and neglect are always wrong. Telling someone else often helps the situation get better. A first step to your family getting help is to talk to someone you trust such as a teacher or a friend's parent and tell them what is happening. You could also speak to one of the Rights and Engagement Officers at the Angus Carers Centre. Often it can help if someone from outside your family looks to see where support is needed.

If you are in an abusive relationship with an older person outside your home, it’s crucial that you tell someone right away. You may feel afraid to speak out if the person has threatened you or your family, but the best thing you can possibly do is to tell an adult that you trust.

If you feel you’d like to talk to someone who doesn’t know you, or if you feel too scared to tell anyone else, you can always contact Childline confidentially (for young people under 19). They’ll be able to help you think things through and find the right person to tell.

More Information



  • Abuse: A guide for young people, YoungMinds – Explains what abuse is and who can help.
  • Emotional abuse, Childline – Explains what emotional abuse is, why it happens and what you can do about it.
  • Physical abuse, Childline – Explains how physical abuse can affect you and how to get help.
  • Sexual abuse, Childline – Explains what sexual abuse is and how to get help.
  • Domestic abuse, Childline – Explains what domestic abuse is, how it affects you and your family, and how to cope if you feel unsafe at home.
  • Parents and alcohol, Childline – Advice for young people whose parents drink too much.



  • Emotional abuse with Holly Bourne, Radio 1’s Life Hacks – Adapt the World, BBC Sounds (36.5 minutes) – Discussion of coercive behaviour, domestic abuse, sexual abuse, and emotionally abusive relationships.



  • Words can hurt: Emotional abuse, Childline (2 minutes) – A video that shows what emotional abuse looks like and the terrible impact it can have.
  • Wants and needs, Childline (2 minutes) – Young people talk about what they see as the difference between ‘wants’ and ‘needs’, and why it’s important for young people to have their needs met.
  • 14 signs of emotional abuse in relationships, Psych2Go (4 minutes) – A short animation setting out some of the common signs of emotional abuse.
  • Adam’s story: It follows me around, Childline (5 minutes) – This video is about a young man’s experience of physical and emotional abuse. (Warning: this video contains scenes of physical violence.)
  • If home is not safe, Scottish Women’s Aid (1 minute) – This video was made for children and young people experiencing domestic abuse during the COVID pandemic, but it is still relevant today.
  • Losing control: When someone cares, Childline (1 minute) – This short video tries to help young people recognise when they are being abused by someone they are in a relationship with – someone who pretends to care for them.
  • Child sexual exploitation: Greg’s story, Barnardos (1.5 minutes) – This is the story of one young man who escaped sexual exploitation that started when he was 12 years old.

Where to get more help

Here are some free helplines that you could phone if you would prefer to speak to someone confidentially in the first instance.

If you are in an emergency situation, phone 999.


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