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Help if you're a child who is being abused

This advice applies to England

If you’re a child or young person suffering from abuse, remember that the abuse is not your fault. You can get help and support to make it stop. This page tells you more.

Contact a specialist child abuse organisation

If you’re a child suffering from abuse, you can ask a specialist organisation, like the NSPCC, Childline or Stop It now, for help and support.

All calls to these organisations are treated confidentially. This means you don’t have to give your personal details if you don’t want to.  But they have to contact the local authority or the police if:

  • you give your personal details, and
  • you’re under 18, and
  • they suspect you’re in danger.

They will tell you that they will have to pass on information to the local authority or the police and they will explain what will happen next.

Contact the police

Contact the police on 999 if you’re in immediate danger, or 101 if you’re not in immediate danger. You’ll be put in contact with a specialist child protection team. If you contact the police, they will usually get in touch with the local authority if you’re under 18. The police will then work with social workers to investigate the abuse and, in very serious cases, may have to take you away from home to a safe place.

Contact the local authority

Each local authority has a special department that deals with child protection. You can look on your local authority’s website for the right contact details. If you tell the local authority that you’re being abused, social workers will investigate if you’re under 18 and they think you’re at risk of serious harm. They will generally involve your family in these investigations but, if you’re in immediate danger, they could take you away from home to a safe place without telling your parents.

Tell someone else

You could tell someone else about the abuse, for example:

  • your teacher at school
  • your doctor or health visitor
  • a youth worker.

If you’re under 18 and they think you’re in danger, these professionals have to report the problem to social services or the police.

You could also try and talk to a trusted family member or friend.  Or you could look on the website of your Local Safeguarding Children Board which will give you information about local organisations that can give support.

If you’re being abused, you could get legal advice about what to do. For example, if there’s a child arrangements order that says you must have contact with someone, you could get legal advice about stopping contact if that person is abusing you.  You might be able to take other court action against the abuser and you may be able to get compensation for the abuse. It’s best to go to a specialist solicitor. You might not have to pay for legal advice in child abuse cases.

Counselling

If you’re being abused, you may want counselling to deal with the effects of the abuse. If so, you will need to see a specialist counsellor or therapist or self help organisation.

These people may be able to help even if you don’t want to report the abuse, but would like more general support.  But before you give them your personal details, check the confidentiality policy of the organisation.  This is because some professionals must report child abuse to the police or the local authority even if this isn’t what you want.

To get counselling provided by the NHS, you’ll have to ask your GP to make a referral.  If you’re under 18, the GP has a duty to inform the local authority about the abuse.

You may want to see a therapist privately although this can be very expensive. In some cases, you may be able to get compensation for the abuse in order to pay for therapy. Depending on the circumstances, the therapist may have to report abuse to the local authority or the police.

If the abuser is being prosecuted, and you’re a witness in the case, neither the police nor prosecutors should stop you getting therapy before the trial.

Medical help

If you’re a child suffering from abuse, you may need to get urgent medical help, for example, to deal with injuries, pregnancy testing, emergency contraception or HIV tests.  You can get medical help from your GP, the accident and emergency department of your local hospital or a family planning clinic such as the Brook Advisory Centre.

If you’re under 18 and a health professional suspects you're being abused, they must report it to the police, or the local authority, even if you don't want them to.

Next steps

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