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Abuse is maltreatment. It can be physical, such as hurting the body, or it may be emotional, sexual, or even financial. Injury from abuse may occur to children or vulnerable adults or among spouses.

Suspect physical abuse when:

  • An injury can't be explained or doesn't match the explanation.
  • Repeated injuries occur.
  • Explanations change for how an injury happened.

You may feel uneasy if your health professional brings up the issue of abuse. Health care providers have a professional duty and legal obligation to evaluate the possibility of abuse. It is important to consider this possibility, especially if there were no witnesses to an injury.

If you suspect abuse, seek help. You can call the local child or adult protective agency, police, or clergy or a health professional such as a doctor, nurse, or counselor.

If you think your child has been abused, there are resources available to help.

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerWilliam H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerH. Michael O'Connor, MD - Emergency Medicine

Current as ofNovember 14, 2014

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: November 14, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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