Abuse & Neglect

Types of Abuse and Neglect with Examples

Types of Abuse and Neglect | Hopeful Panda

Many people went or go through abuse or neglect without realizing it. They likely have issues stemming from their experiences that they’re not aware of or don’t know how to fix. This post covers various types of abuse and neglect with examples.

Learning the different types of abuse and neglect can help you see whether you went through or are going through abuse, or whether you’re being abusive towards others.

Someone who was abused or neglected as a child might still go through abuse now. It could still be by their parents or by a new abuser in their current life.

And unfortunately, if you were raised by abusive parents, you might’ve picked up some of their abusive behaviors. So it’s important to learn the different types of abuse and neglect so you won’t end up treating your children or loved ones the same way your parents treated you.

Learning about how your parents might’ve been abusive can also help you learn more about your childhood. It can give you insight into why you are who you are today and why you might feel, think, or act the way you do.

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The Difference Between Abuse and Neglect

The definition of abuse and neglect may vary from country to country and even state to state. But experiencing either can affect a child’s development and psychology. Abuse and/or neglect can leave damaging effects and likely lifelong issues and trauma.

Simply put, the difference between abuse and neglect is that one is action and the other one is inaction.

Something done to somebody that may cause harm is abuse. Meanwhile, something withheld or not provided to somebody that may cause harm is neglect.

Both abuse and neglect can vary in severity. It can also take many forms. There is also a possibility of overlap.

For example, medical neglect can be considered physical abuse. Or emotionally abusive behavior can be considered emotional neglect.

This post is created to help child abuse victims and survivors identify the type of abuse or neglect they may have experienced or are currently experiencing from their parents, caregivers, or whomever else so that they can begin healing.

This post is NOT intended to provide definitions of abuse or neglect on legal grounds. If you’re interested in the technical terms and what’s considered lawful or not, please refer to your local government or child welfare website.

Types of Abuse

Abuse is an act of commission. It’s an action done to someone that can cause some type of harm.

Abuse is often defined as one person intentionally hurting another. But really, it’s more than that.

One incident of intentional harm isn’t necessarily abuse. For something to be considered abuse, it often has to be a persistent pattern of harmful or toxic behavior towards another person.

Oftentimes, abuse occurs because the perpetrator is trying to maintain control over the victim. This can happen to a child, spouse, elder, employee, or anyone else the abuser can have power over.

When thinking about abuse, most people think about physical abuse. But abuse is not just physical or violent. On top of physical abuse, other common types of abuse are emotional, sexual, and financial abuse.

Physical Abuse

Physical abuse is the repeated use of physical force on another person intending to cause injury, pain, impairment, or even death.

Examples of Physical Abuse

  • Slapping, pinching, scratching, biting, hair pulling
  • Punching, hitting, beating, kicking. shoving, pushing, shaking
  • Choking, strangling
  • Burning, scalding
  • Force-feeding
  • Forcing the victim to consume substances
  • Using weapons or beating the victim with an object
  • Not letting the victim eat, drink, or use the bathroom
  • Physical punishment of any kind

Sexual Abuse

In general, sexual abuse is non-consensual sexual implications, harassment, or contact that may involve force and/or threats. Or it may occur when a victim is unable to consent.

Types and Examples of Sexual Abuse

  • Verbal: Using spoken or written words to express, evoke, or imply sexual content such as sexual jokes, name-calling, solicitation, sexting, and stalking
  • Covert: Attempting to get some form of sexual satisfaction from the victim without their knowledge through stalking, photographing, or spying
  • Visual: Exposing unwanted sexual content to the victim such as sexually explicit images, nudity, flashing, and sexting
  • Physical: Non-consensual touching, fondling, kissing, oral sex, or intercourse
  • Ritualistic: Sexual abuse blended with some form of spirituality and ritual such as incest rituals, genital mutilation, or child marriages

In regards to child sexual abuse, it is the deliberate exposure of a child to sex or sexual activities that they cannot comprehend or consent to. Learn more about child sexual abuse and how or where to get help here.

Examples of Child Sexual Abuse

  • Fondling or inappropriate touching of a child’s private areas
  • Having intercourse or oral sex with a child
  • Engaging in sexual activity in front of a child
  • Having a child touch an adult’s private area
  • Exposing child to pornography, sexual activity, or X-rated books or movies
  • Using a child in pornography
  • Forcing a child to undress or spying on a child in the bathroom or bedroom

Emotional Abuse

Emotional abuse is also known as psychological abuse or mental abuse. It is when the abuser intentionally causes mental or emotional pain in the victim through verbal or nonverbal acts. It’s almost always present when another form of abuse is found.

Examples of Emotional Abuse

  • Gaslighting
  • Blaming, shaming
  • Controlling
  • Manipulation, exploitation
  • Undermining, trivializing, condescending
  • Isolating the victim from family, friends, and places
  • Ignoring, excluding
  • Humiliation
  • Degradation
  • Withholding affection and attention
  • Extreme jealousy
  • Denial and deflection of abusive behavior
  • Silent treatments
  • Dismissiveness, invalidation, indifference
  • Intimidation

Verbal Abuse and Examples

Verbal abuse is generally a form of emotional abuse. It occurs when an abuser uses words and body language intentionally to hurt the victim.

  • Name-calling, insults, putdowns, unreasonable criticisms
  • Yelling, swearing, screaming
  • Imitating, mocking, harassing
  • Sarcasm, jokes, backhanded compliments
  • Accusations, blaming, lying
  • Threats

Financial Abuse

Financial abuse is also known as economic abuse or material abuse. It’s to take away someone’s ability to earn or access money as a way to control them.

Due to the nature of financial abuse, it happens more often to adults than children. However, some teenagers might also endure financial abuse from their parents who don’t want them to become independent.

Examples of Financial Abuse

  • Restricting access to money, bank accounts, credit cards, or financial information
  • Controlling all household finances
  • Preventing the victim from getting a degree or job
  • Sabotaging employment opportunities such as trying to get the victim fired
  • Stealing or taking money from the victim
  • Intentionally making the victim’s credit score go down
  • Withholding money for basic necessities
  • Refusing to work or contribute to expenses but demands the victim to pay for all expenses
Types of Abuse | Hopeful Panda

Types of Neglect

Neglect is an act of omission or inaction towards someone that can cause some type of harm.

Oftentimes, neglect refers to child neglect. Child neglect is when a caregiver doesn’t provide necessities or care for the child even though they have the means to do so. It can be intentional or with disregard for the child’s well-being.

Some don’t consider neglect as severe or impactful as abuse. Maybe a single act of neglect isn’t child abuse. But repeated neglect is. Neglect can leave long-term damage just as much as abuse can. And really, neglect is a form of abuse.

Physical Neglect

Physical neglect is usually what people think of when they hear the word “neglect”. It occurs when a child’s basic physical needs repeatedly go unmet.

Examples of Physical Neglect

  • Failure to provide adequate food, water, clothing, supervision, and healthcare
  • Intentionally withholding food, water, clothing, shelter, or other necessities
  • Leaving or forcing the child to be outside in bad weather
  • Failing to provide for the child’s safety or physical needs
  • Reckless disregard for the child’s safety and welfare

Medical Neglect and Examples

Medical neglect is a form of physical neglect. It is the failure to provide proper healthcare for a child even when financially able to do so.

  • Failure to seek necessary medical, dental, or psychiatric care for the child
  • Failure to comply with medical treatment for the child
  • Withholding medical care with the intent to cause harm or even death

Supervisory Neglect and Examples

Another form of physical neglect is supervisory neglect. It’s when the adult responsible for the child fails to supervise or provide proper supervision to keep the child from harm.

  • Repeatedly leaving the child in the custody of others for days or weeks at a time
  • Failing to supervise a child around weapons or other dangerous circumstances
  • Leaving the child with an unfit or impaired caregiver
  • Abandoning the child without arranging for reasonable care or supervision

Environmental Neglect and Examples

Last but not least, environmental neglect is also a form of physical neglect. It occurs when a child’s home environment is unsanitary and unsafe.

  • Exposure of the child to hazards such as smoking, guns and other weapons, and lack of car safety restraints
  • Exposure of the child to unsanitary conditions such as infestations of pests and rotting food

Educational Neglect

Educational neglect occurs when a child isn’t given access to education or when the child is excessively absent from school.

Examples of Educational Neglect

  • Failing to enroll the child in school and failing to homeschool
  • Making the child stay home from school without reasonable cause
  • Allowing excessive absences from school when the child is of mandatory school age
  • Refusing or failing to allow recommended remedial or special education services
  • Refusing or failing to follow through with treatment for a diagnosed learning disorder

Emotional Neglect

Emotional neglect occurs when a child’s emotional needs aren’t being met. It is when the caregiver is not giving the child the love, care, affection, and attention the child needs to healthily develop.

Many forms of emotional neglect are also forms of emotional abuse.

Emotional neglect is usually more difficult to identify than other types of neglect. It is thought to be more severe than other types. However, it does often occur with other types of neglect or abuse, which may be easier to notice.

Examples of Emotional Neglect

  • Persistent indifference to the child’s need for attention, affection, or emotional support
  • Exposing the child to domestic abuse
  • Allowing abuse or violence to happen to the child without intervening
  • Humiliating, mocking, teasing
  • Rejecting, ignoring, excluding, isolating
  • Terrorizing, intimidating
  • Withholding love, comfort, affection, and emotional support
  • Verbal abuse
Types of Neglect | Hopeful Panda


Once again, abuse and neglect can leave long-lasting damaging effects on an individual that can last a lifetime, especially when it happened in their childhood.

How long and how damaging these effects are depend on a few things:

  • The victim’s age when the abuse or neglect started
  • The type of abuse or neglect the victim went through
  • The frequency and duration of the abuse or neglect

Abusive parents rarely only engage in one type of abuse or neglect. So if you were abused or neglected as a child, you likely experienced many different types of abuse or neglect listed in this post at one point or another, if not all of them.

Whether you went through these types of abuse and neglect as a child or you’re going through them now, I hope you can begin healing.

Begin your healing journey

As I said earlier, accepting that you did experience abuse is the first step toward healing.

It’s also important to realize that abuse can happen anywhere in any relationship with anyone. So it’s important to assess your relationships. Make sure no one is being abusive towards you and that you’re not being abusive toward others. Remember, healthy relationships are NOT abusive.

Do NOT let anyone convince you that it’s okay or normal that you’re facing or have faced abuse or neglect, especially if it’s coming from the abusive person. It is NOT okay.

And if you notice yourself displaying abusive or neglectful behaviors, please start healing from your childhood. Displaying abusive behavior doesn’t necessarily mean you’re an abuser. But it’s still crucial that you try to stop it so you won’t hurt your loved ones. Do NOT follow in the abuser’s footsteps.

If you went through abuse and/or feel like you’re being abusive, consider seeking therapy. You can connect with a certified therapist here. A professional can help you process your experiences and guide you toward healing.

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Hi there, I’m Estee. Having grown up with an abusive mother, I know how isolating, frustrating, and hopeless everything could feel – back then as a child and even now as an adult.

I am always trying to better understand and manage the effects of the abuse I experienced. And this journey I’m on inspired me to create Hopeful Panda. Learn more here.

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