What is Abuse?

Abuse is a betrayal of the fundamental human need for safety, love, and connection. It damages the trust essential for healthy relationships. It can leave lasting wounds affecting a person’s ability to form intimate connections and experience a sense of belonging.

Abuse is not just an individual problem it is also a social problem rooted in larger systems of power and oppression. It acknowledges that abuse is often perpetrated by those with more social power than their victims and that it is exacerbated by cultural attitudes that condone and normalize abusive behaviour.

At Leone Centre, we emphasize the importance of healing and restoring relationships on an individual and societal level. We recognise that true healing and transformation require not just the cessation of abusive behaviour but also a deeper understanding of the underlying causes of abuse and a commitment to creating a more just and equitable world.

Experiencing abuse can make it difficult to reach out for help. Fear, shame, lack of trust, isolation, and lack of resources can all be barriers. However, many resources are available, including hotlines, support groups, and therapy. Your safety and trust are essential for your well-being; if you have experienced any abuse, you don’t have to be alone.

It’s crucial to reach out for help. Counselling at Leone Centre provides a supportive space where you can talk openly about your experience of abuse and its impact on your life. Therapy is a powerful tool to help you heal, free yourself and move forward.

What are the Signs of Abuse?

People who have experienced or are experiencing abuse may be hesitant to come forward, reach out or ask for help. Abuse can sometimes erode people’s self-esteem, and trust in their perceptions about the abuse they’re experiencing, making it challenging for themselves and others to recognize the signs.

People in abusive relationships may feel ashamed, guilty, or fearful of retaliation from the abuser, making it difficult for them to seek help or speak out about what’s happening to them.

The power differential between individuals can also be a breeding ground for abuse. When one person holds more power or influence than another, they may be more likely to use this power to manipulate, control, or exploit the other person. This can take many forms, from physical violence to emotional coercion and financial exploitation.

The person with less power may feel trapped or helpless in the face of the other’s actions, and their sense of self and autonomy may be eroded over time. Ultimately, the abuse is not just a violation of the victim’s physical and emotional boundaries but also a betrayal of the fundamental human need for respect, equality, and connection.

Abuse in any form is a harrowing and traumatic experience that can leave lasting scars on a person’s mind, body, and soul.  The emotional and psychological impact of abuse can be as devastating as the physical harm inflicted. It can make a person feel powerless, helpless, and worthless.

It’s important to remember that being a victim of abuse is not your fault, and you are not alone. People and resources are available to help you heal and overcome the trauma. It takes tremendous courage and strength to break free from the cycle of abuse, but it is possible.

Signs of abuse can include:

  • Being afraid of your partner or caregiver or someone
  • Feeling on eggshells consistently, trying to avoid triggering them
  • Finding yourself more and more isolated and cut off from friends and family
  • Finding unexplained injuries or bruises
  • Feeling anxious or depressed
  • Low self-esteem or a negative self-image that has worsened over time
  • Consistent criticism, belittlement or being insulted by your partner, caregiver or authority figure
  • Being controlled or monitored 
  • Feeling that constant permission is needed to make independent decisions
  • Feeling you cannot make your own decisions or have a say in what happens in your life
  • Not feeling that you can say ‘no’ and/or do things sexually that you are not comfortable with or ready for
  • Being gaslighted, feeling confused, and/or being disassociated and emotionally numb
  • Partner, caregiver or authority figure taking control of your finances or preventing you from accessing them

Signs of Abuse that can be missed:

  • Neglect
  • Exploitation of Finances
  • Abuse online / over the Internet
  • Abuse again less able people, such as elderly or disabled individuals
  • The use of religious or spiritual beliefs to control or manipulate someone

The Different Types of Abuse

Emotional abuse

Emotional abuse involves using verbal and non-verbal behaviours to control, manipulate, and harm another person’s emotions and self-esteem.

It can take many forms, including name-calling, belittling, blaming, shaming, gaslighting, isolation, and withholding affection or support. Emotional abuse can have long-lasting severe impacts on a person’s mental health, self-worth, and ability to form healthy relationships.


A form of emotional abuse that involves the manipulation of another person’s perception of reality. Gaslighting can take many forms but typically involves the abuser denying or distorting the truth, creating confusion and doubt in someone’s mind, and undermining their confidence in their own perceptions and memories.

This can leave a person feeling disoriented, vulnerable, and powerless and can have long-lasting effects on their mental health and well-being. Gaslighting is a particularly insidious form of abuse because it can be difficult for the victim to recognize and articulate what is happening and because it erodes their sense of self and autonomy over time.

Physical abuse

Physical abuse involves intentionally using force to cause physical harm, injury, or pain to another person. Physical abuse can result in various injuries, from bruises and cuts to broken bones and internal damage. It is often accompanied by emotional abuse.

Sexual abuse

Sexual abuse involves any unwanted sexual activity imposed on an individual without their consent. Sexual abuse can happen to anyone, regardless of age, gender, or sexual orientation. It can occur within families, including siblings, intimate relationships, or institutions such as schools or workplaces.

Sexual abuse can have severe and long-lasting effects on a person’s mental and physical health, including depression, anxiety, PTSD, and physical injuries.

Verbal abuse

Verbal abuse involves using words to control, manipulate, or harm another person. Verbal abuse can be overt or subtle and can happen in any relationship, including intimate relationships, families, friendships, and workplaces.

Financial abuse

Involves controlling or exploiting another person’s financial resources. It can take many forms, including stealing, withholding, or misusing money, preventing access to financial resources, forcing financial dependence, or coercing a person to make financial decisions against their will. Financial abuse can occur in any relationship, including intimate relationships, families, friendships, and caregiver relationships.


Neglect is failing to provide a child or a vulnerable person with the necessary care and support for their physical and emotional well-being. It can take many forms, including failing to provide food, shelter, medical care, or education. Neglect can happen in any relationship, including families, caregiver relationships, or institutional settings.

Institutionalised abuse

Institutionalised abuse can occur within organisations or institutions, such as care homes, hospitals, prisons, or schools. It becomes ingrained and can take many forms, including neglect, physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, and financial abuse. Inadequate policies and procedures, poor training, inadequate care for staff and a lack of oversight or accountability can feed institutional abuse.

Online abuse

Online abuse refers to using the internet and social media platforms to harass, intimidate, or harm others. This can take many forms, including cyberbullying, trolling, and online harassment. Online abuse can also include threatening to share intimate imagery or information and falsifying accounts to gain information on the other person.

Elderly Abuse

Abuse of the elderly refers to any mistreatment, harm, neglect, or taking advantage of a person if their age makes them vulnerable. This can take many forms, including physical, emotional, sexual, or financial abuse. Family members or caregivers can often intentionally or not perpetrate the abuse, significantly impacting the person’s health and well-being.

Homophobic and Transphobic Abuse

Homophobic and transphobic abuse refers to the mistreatment, harassment, or violence directed towards individuals who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer. This type of abuse can take many forms, including verbal abuse, physical violence, and discrimination in employment, housing, and healthcare.

Disability abuse

Mistreatment, harm, or neglect directed towards individuals with disabilities. This can take many forms, including physical, emotional, sexual, or financial abuse. Disability abuse can occur in various settings, including institutions, care homes, and private homes. Abuse towards those who are disabled can include harm because of their disability or taking advantage of their lack of ability.

How Counselling Can Help with Abuse

Counselling is a therapy that helps individuals who have experienced various forms of abuse. Therapy can help people who suffered the abuse to develop ways to come to terms with their experiences and build resilience.

Therapy can help empower them to regain control over their lives.

Counselling for people who experienced abuse can also provide education on the dynamics of abuse, helping victims to understand the patterns of behaviour that perpetuate abuse and how to recognise them. It is essential to seek a professional, qualified and experienced therapist who will provide the necessary support and guidance for healing and recovery.

Our therapists are there to listen, help and support you through your journey to coming to terms with the abuse and taking the steps towards freedom and empowerment.

What are the Long-term Benefits of Counselling?

Abuse counselling can have many long-term benefits for survivors of abuse. Here are some of them:

  1. Improved mental health: Abuse can exacerbate various mental health problems, including anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Counselling can help survivors address these issues and work through them. 
  2. Increased self-esteem: Abuse can damage an individual’s self-esteem and sense of self-worth. Counselling can help survivors rebuild their self-esteem and develop a better sense of self.
  3. Improved relationships: Abuse can affect an individual’s ability to form, trust and maintain healthy relationships. Counselling can help identify ad establish boundaries, communicate effectively, and build thriving relationships.
  4. Reduced risk of future abuse: Addressing the root causes and through education and learning, counselling can help survivors avoid future abusive situations.
  5. Increased resilience: Surviving abuse can be a traumatic experience, but counselling can help survivors develop resilience and overcome adversity.
  6. Improved physical health: The stress caused by the experience of abuse can harm an individual’s physical health. Counselling can help survivors learn how to manage stress and improve their overall health.
  7. Increased sense of control: Abuse can leave survivors powerless and out of control. Counselling can help survivors regain control over their lives and make positive changes.

Overall, the long-term benefits of counselling can be significant and life-changing.

The following list of links provides supportive information.

If you suspect that a vulnerable person is being abused, it is vital to report it safely and as soon as possible Here are some links for 24-hour helplines for abuse in the UK:

  1. National Domestic Abuse Helpline: https://www.nationaldahelpline.org.uk/ (24-hour helpline for domestic abuse concerns)
  2. NSPCC helpline: https://www.nspcc.org.uk/keeping-children-safe/reporting-abuse/dedicated-helplines/ (24-hour helpline for child abuse concerns)
  3. Samaritans: https://www.samaritans.org/ (24-hour helpline for emotional support)
  4. The Havens: https://www.thehavens.org.uk/ (24-hour helpline for people who have been raped or sexually assaulted)
  5. MIND Infoline: https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/helplines/ (24-hour helpline for mental health support)
  6. Shout: https://giveusashout.org/get-help/ (24-hour crisis text support for mental health)
  7. Men’s Advice Line: https://mensadviceline.org.uk/ (24-hour helpline for male victims of domestic violence)
Domestic Abuse
  1. The Survivor’s Handbook: https://www.womensaid.org.uk/the-survivors-handbook/ (comprehensive guide to help survivors of domestic violence)
  2. The Hideout: https://thehideout.org.uk/ (website for children and young people affected by domestic violence)
  3. SafeLives: https://www.safelives.org.uk/ (a national charity dedicated to ending domestic abuse)
  4. OneinFour | Supporting people who have experienced child sexual abuse and trauma
Child Abuse 
  1. NSPCC helpline: https://www.nspcc.org.uk/keeping-children-safe/reporting-abuse/dedicated-helplines/ (24-hour helpline for child abuse concerns)
  2. Childline: https://www.childline.org.uk/ (helpline and online support for children and young people)
  3. Barnardo’s: https://www.barnardos.org.uk/what-we-do/protecting-children-from-abuse (support and resources for children and families affected by abuse)
  4. Child protection in England: https://www.gov.uk/report-child-abuse (information on reporting child abuse in England)
  5. Child protection in Scotland: https://www.childprotection.scot/ (information and resources for child protection in Scotland)
  6. Child protection in Wales: https://gov.wales/report-child-abuse-or-neglect (information on reporting child abuse or neglect in Wales)
  7. National Association for People Abused in Childhood (NAPAC): https://napac.org.uk/ (support and resources for adult survivors of childhood abuse)
Social Services
  1. UK: https://www.gov.uk/browse/childcare-parenting/social-services (information on social services and how to access them)
  2. Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE): https://www.scie.org.uk/social-care-users/help-from-adult-social-care-services (information on adult social care services and how to access them)
  3. Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS): https://www.adass.org.uk/ (information and resources for adult social services)
  4. Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS): https://adcs.org.uk/ (information and resources for children’s social services)
  5. Local Government Association (LGA): https://www.local.gov.uk/ (information and resources for local government services, including social services)
  6. The National Youth Agency (NYA): https://nya.org.uk/ (information and resources for youth services)
  7. The Children’s Society: https://www.childrenssociety.org.uk/ (charity supporting vulnerable children and young people)
Other Helpful Links
  1. Survivors UK: https://www.survivorsuk.org/ (support and resources for male survivors of sexual abuse)
  2. Rape Crisis: https://rapecrisis.org.uk/ (support and resources for survivors of sexual violence)
  3. Victim Support: https://www.victimsupport.org.uk/ (information and support for victims of crime)
  4. Human Rights Watch: https://www.hrw.org/topic/womens-rights/abuse-institutions (information and resources on abuse in institutions)
  5. Care Quality Commission: https://www.cqc.org.uk/what-we-do/how-we-do-our-job/safeguarding-people/institutional-abuse (information on safeguarding against institutional abuse)
  6. The Survivors Trust: https://thesurvivorstrust.org/ (support and resources for survivors of rape, sexual assault, and childhood sexual abuse)
  7. LGBT+ Domestic Abuse Helpline: 0800 999 5428 (Monday to Wednesday, 10am to 8pm, Thursday and Friday, 10am to 5pm)
  8. The Mix: 0808 808 4994 (helpline for under 25s experiencing any type of abuse or violence)
  9. Samaritans: 116 123 (24-hour helpline for emotional support)