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What is physical abuse?
What is physical abuse?
Written by Hannah May
Updated over a week ago

What is physical abuse?

Physical abuse is the use of physical force that may cause injury, pain or impairment. It includes such things as:

  • Striking, hitting, slapping or beating, pushing or shoving, shaking, kicking, pinching, burning, using physical restraints inappropriately, taking away all food or water or forcing food, putting someone out unprotected in severe weather, using physical punishment, making inappropriate sexual contact.

What are some signs of physical abuse?

  • Burns including cigarette burns, unexplained bruises, multiple bruises that are at different stages of healing, frequent trips to the emergency room, cuts or scrapes, black eyes, signs of sexual assault, spots where hair seems to have pulled out, rope marks, broken bones, broken eyeglasses.

What can you do about physical abuse?

  • Watch your patients for signs of physical abuse. Be sure to discuss any suspicions you have with your supervisor.

  • Be sure you know how comfortable your patients are with physical contact. Some may welcome a hug and some may consider it an invasion of their private space. Be respectful of each patient’s wishes.

  • You want to do your work efficiently, but be careful not to rush through it. When you rush it is easy to accidentally hurt someone. Or trying to transfer a heavy patient without help may end up hurting your back and giving the patient a bruise or skin tear. While you would never mean to harm your patients, rushing through your work can be seen by others as physical abuse.

  • Reporting a situation when you’re not sure if its physical abuse may seem wrong, but it isn’t.

If it is abuse, you might save the patient’s life and the abuser might get some psychological help. If it isn’t abuse, no one will be permanently hurt by the report.

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