Physical Abuse 101

…Until then, we’ve compiled some fundamental information on Physical Abuse for you, below, to help us integrate our actions against abuse.  If you have any additional information or feedback, please share!

What is Physical Abuse?

Physical abuse is any intention or unwanted contact with you or something close to your body.  Physical acts of abuse can also be categorized as sexual abuse (such as forcing you to have sex or perform a sexual act).  Sometimes abusive behavior does not cause pain or leave a bruise, but it is still unhealthy.

Examples of physical abuse:

  • Scratching, punching, biting, strangling or kicking
  • Having items thrown at you
  • Pulling your hair
  • Pushing or pulling you
  • Grabbing your clothing
  • Using a gun, knife, box cutter, bat, mace or other weapon
  • Grabbing your face to make you look at them
  • Grabbing you to prevent you from leaving or to force you to go somewhere

Physical abuse can stem from unhealthy relationships, and it’s important to know those warning signs.

Who does Physical Abuse affect?

Like with other types of abuse, physical abuse can happen to the elderly, adults, college students, and children and youth.  It can happen to females, males, and LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, and queer) individuals, regardless of race, class, appearance, and sexual orientation.


  • 10% of elders have reported emotional, physical, or sexual mistreatment or potential neglect.  However, many cases are not reported because elders are afraid to tell police, friends, or family about the violence1


  • More than 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men in the United States have been raped, physically abused, and/or stalked by an intimate partner in their lifetime2
  • Among survivors of intimate partner violence, more than 1 in 3 women have experienced rape, stalking, or physical violence; 92.1% of male victims have experienced physical violence alone, and 6.3% have experienced physical violence and stalking2

College Students:

  • A little less than half (43%) of dating college women report experiencing violent and abusive dating behaviors such as physical, sexual, tech, verbal or controlling abuse3

Children & Youth:

  • Nearly 1.5 million high school students in the U.S. are physically abused by a dating partner in a single year3
  • Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS) is a leading, and preventable, cause of child abuse deaths in the U.S.  It results from violently shaking an infant by the shoulders, arms, or legs, which then leads to bleeding within the brain and eyes4

Where can you find out more about Physical Abuse?

2CDC National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey
4 Image Source: Stop Abuse campaign