It hurts

Doing something physical to harm you or someone you know is physical abuse. There are not always marks or bruises. It feels bad when someone does not respect you, your body, and your feelings.

  • pulling hair
  • dragging someone around by their clothes
  • spitting at someone
  • scratching
  • pinching
  • slapping
  • kicking
  • slamming
  • shoving
  • biting
  • punching
  • shaking
  • throwing things at someone
  • tying someone up
  • putting a hand or pillow over someone’s mouth and nose
  • holding someone underwater
  • choking
  • burning with cigarettes, scalding water or other hot things
  • cutting or stabbing
  • holding down and tickling someone who doesn't want to be tickled

These acts or behaviours may be serious enough for the person to be charged with a crime, especially if you feel worried for your safety and fearful for your life. It depends on how and why they're done. If you are not sure, ask a trusted adult.

Physical abuse by a family member is family violence. Most forms of physical abuse are considered an “assault” which is a crime in Canada.

An assault happens when someone uses force or threatens to use force against another person in a way that the other person doesn’t want them to. (If you are forced or tricked into saying OK – it’s still an assault.) Click here for more specific information on family violence laws in Canada.

What about spanking?

Parents are responsible for teaching their children how to behave. This is called discipline. Sometimes parents spank their children to discipline them. But spanking with an object or spanking that results in physical injuries may be a crime and child protection workers may get involved.

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