The many faces of abuse

Abuse is defined as the improper usage or treatment of an entity, often to unfairly or improperly gain benefit. It can occur to anyone of any age and gender and from any walk of life. It can take the form of physical battery, emotional bullying, psychological coercion, sexual abuse, or neglect (“Abuse –,” n.d.). I have faced several situations where my patient is being abused in some way. The challenge I personally face when it comes to the subject of abuse, is knowing what steps to take and what to say to that person. Three particular situations come to mind when I think of abuse: 1) the physically abused patient, 2) the emotionally abused patient and 3) the neglected patient.

The physically abused patient:

I am currently in a situation on my paediatric block where I am treating a 10 month old girl whose head was bashed into the pavement by her mother’s boyfriend. The mother is blind, which further complicates the situation. I have not yet met the mother or the father of my patient, as no one was present during my initial assessment, but my mind has been filled with questions and I have been wondering how to handle the situation. At this stage, the mother may need counselling and empathy and the child may need counselling as she gets older.

The emotionally abused patient:

While I was on my NMS block, one of my patients opened up to me and expressed how awful her husband was towards her and all of the terrible things he would say both directly to her and about her to other people. She may not have seen this as abuse, but in my mind she was being emotionally abused by her husband. I did my best to provide counselling and advice, and recommended that she see someone more equipped to deal with the situation. Ultimately, her demeanour improved by the end of the treatment session. I came to the conclusion that much of her physical pain may have been linked to her emotional pain, and through releasing this emotional pain and discussing her issues, she experienced a slight relief in pain.

The neglected patient

In the case of the elderly and very young patients, neglect occurs far too often. I have treated elderly patients who have no family or friends visiting them, and have no family willing to or able to care for them once they are discharged. Currently, on my paeds block, I have encountered several patients who are on some level being neglected by their parents. Some of the patients only got injured due to their parents neglecting them, while others are to some degree neglected by their parents while in the hospital. One patient in particular is often left alone, crying because she is hungry, only for me to find her mother sitting outside talking on her cellphone. Even when the mother is in the room, she ignores her baby’s desperate cries for attention.

These situations can be frustrating to a healthcare professional. For me personally, I know that the police have arrested the man who physically abused the 10 month old girl. I know that my patient who is being emotionally abused now possesses the tools to deal with and that she is determined to escape her current situation. In terms of neglect, it is slightly more challenging to deal with. is a site which offers a guide to understanding child abuse especially, but the information can be of great use when dealing with adults who are being abused as well. Go to for a full guide on recognizing abuse and how to deal with it.


Abuse – (n.d.). Retrieved from


4 Replies to “The many faces of abuse”

  1. Hi Collette,
    Your post was educational but quite impersonal to me as the reader. You stated the 3 faces of abuse with different scenarios, but you neglected to link how you felt in those situations with what literature says on how to behave ethically when faced with a patient who has been abused. I also found that you did not state what you have learned from these experiences nor how it affected you as a student physiotherapist. I think that the point of these blogs are to learn how to deal with ethical dilemmas faced in the clinical setting rather than to educate the reader. For me, the post would have been a lot more intriguing if you made it more personal, as everyone’s experience is different and therefore interesting.

    The post was well written and I did not find grammatical errors. I would suggest that you use more than one reference in the future to substantiate your points more clearly. You could have included more media, such as more images throughout the post or a video. The title was good and complements the post well.

    I look forward to your other post!


  2. Hi Collette,

    The blog post is an interesting read. The stories are quite emotional as abuse is a serious issue within our society. I appreciate title as it relates to the topics highlighted in your post. The use of good media such as pictures, videos and hyperlinks which can enhance your writing. There were no find grammatical errors.

    Looking forward to reading future posts 🙂


  3. Hi Collete

    I enjoyed reading your post, it was sad but very interesting. Your post was well written, no grammatical errors and paragraphs were a good length. This post kept me wanting to read more and more. Your image and title linked well with your post. This post was informative and I feel the fact that you put it into scenarios made me understand more.

    I feel you did not link yourself to this post. I would have liked to read about your personal feelings and more about how you went about with your feelings. I would have also liked to know what you have learned from this experience and how it could help you in future. It would have been nice to see more about what literature has to say as well. This post made me want to read more but it ended really quickly.

    Maybe In future have more references and more personal experiences

    Good job.


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