Child abuse is the term used when an adult harms a child or a young person under the age of 18. Child abuse can take four forms, all of which can cause long lasting distress: physical abuse, emotional abuse, neglect and sexual abuse. Bullying and domestic violence are also forms of child abuse.

Memories of abuse in childhood can be frightening and difficult to manage, often leaving people feeling a deep sense of shame and confusion. Some adults abused in childhood can struggle with low self esteem or even feel intense self hatred and they may be self destructive. Speaking to someone in confidence can be helpful in beginning to come to terms with the painful experiences. You can talk to a Queen Mary counsellor or get advice and information through the organisations listed below.

Where to get help

NAPAC (National Association for People Abused in Childhood) offer a freephone support line offering advice and information to survivors of any kind of childhood abuse. They also produce a resource pack and a range of publications.
Leaflets on basic early stage recovery from abuse available from

NSPCC (National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children) run a child protection helpline for anyone worrying about a child. Their website has useful information about child abuse including definitions, how to recognise the signs of abuse in children, advice for adult survivors and for parents.

Survivors UK offers counselling, advice and support to men who have been raped or sexually abused as adults or in childhood. They can also direct callers to counsellors and support groups in their local area.

Further resources

Sapphire is a service provided by the Metropolitan Police for anyone who has been raped or sexually assaulted. An advice booklet available in many languages can be downloaded which explains step by step what happens when an assault is reported to the police.