by Harley Therapy
Reviewed by Dr Sheri Jacobson

Abuse is the misuse of power with the intent to harm or control another person. Abuse in any form can harm someone.

A counsellor or psychotherapist can help you to discuss and understand you understand if you have been abused, and how to overcome any fears surrounding abuse so that you can live more fully in the present. If your abuse is connected, to depression, anger, anxiety, dissociation or obsessive-compulsive disorder, they will also work with you on these issues.

What is abuse?

Physical, emotional and sexual abuse, whether past or present, causes pain and psychological distress that can affect your life. It can be very hard to confide in those around you the abuse you have suffered and the feelings that you may be experiencing as a result. If you are suffering from the consequences of abuse, it is important to seek help, for example from a support group or therapist.

Therapy for abuse provides a non-judgmental environment to help you deal with the painful memories and trauma, giving you new perspectives, healthier ways to cope and helping you to overcome flashbacks, nightmares or other symptoms that are troubling you. In this way, you can transform your life.

While overcoming abuse is a difficult journey, a therapist can support you through each step, helping you to move forward. Find a therapist online here.

What are the types of abuse?

Abuse in any form can harm someone.

Types of abuse include:

  • Physical abuse: Deliberate physical violence such as hitting, punching, shaking, burning, choking, unwanted physical touching and other acts that can cause physical injury to the body.
  • Sexual abuse: Actions of a sexual nature without consent such as rape, sexual assault, incest, childhood sexual abuse or other acts of sexual violence.
  • Emotional and verbal abuse: Controlling manipulation and actions that cause emotional distress, including being criticised constantly, threatened, bullied, dismissed, humiliated, disrespected, accused, harassed, isolated from friends or family, or being yelled at. If you are questioning whether what you have experienced, or are experiencing, in your relationship is verbal abuse or not, you can find out more information on how to tell using this helpful article.
  • Neglect: Neglect can occur when adequate food, housing, clothing or medical care is not provided for someone, for example in childhood. Emotional neglect happens when support and love are not provided.
  • Financial abuse: Controlling someone using money, for example controlling their bank account, taking their property or using their money without permission.
  • Domestic abuse: Any form of abuse within an intimate relationship is domestic violence or domestic abuse.
  • Elder abuse: Harming or exploiting an elderly person.
  • Child abuse: Harming, exploiting or neglecting a person under the age of 18.

What are the effects of abuse?

Some of the issues or conditions that may affect survivors of abuse include emotional difficulties, anxiety, anger, mood swings, shame, and low self-esteem. Mental health problems can include depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), self-harm, suicidal thoughts, problems with alcohol or drugs, relationship issues, feeling numb, difficulties with trust and physical intimacy, flashbacks and nightmares.

Harley Therapy's Guarantee

If you don't feel satisfied with your first Therapy session for any reason, we'll offer you a session with an alternative therapist at our expense.

I would like a personalised therapist recommendation for abuse:

No problem! Just fill in the below and one of our team will be in touch shortly:

How can therapy help with abuse?

Counselling and psychotherapy can help you to process painful memories of abuse in a safe environment and to deal with the effects that trauma has left with you, such as flashbacks, depression and anxiety.

A qualified, professional therapist will work with you to examine your thoughts and behaviours and improve how you feel. You will build a relationship based on trust, giving you the confidence to share your feelings and emotions with them. Your counsellor will listen to all that you have to share with empathy and openness.

An experienced therapist or counsellor like those listed on the Harley Therapy platform can help you to manage your symptoms and find your own way forward.

Filter our qualified, professional and vetted therapists by cost, location, availability and approach so you can find and book the best therapist or counsellor for you here. Or find a therapist to help with Abuse below.

Website resources

Victim Support

NHS - help after rape and sexual assault

National Association for People Abused in Childhood


The Survivors Trust


Helpful UK phone numbers

Rape Crisis - 0808 802 9999

ChildLine - 0800 1111

Refuge (domestic violence helpline) - 0808 2000 247

National Association for People Abused in Childhood - 0800 085 3330

NSPCC (helpline to prevent childhood abuse) - 0808 800 5000

International resources for readers outside of the UK

A list of international rape crisis helplines

Rape Crisis Network Europe

National Domestic Violence Hotline USA

International sexual assault resources

Therapeutic and psychological services

NHS - see your GP and ask for a referral to a psychological specialist

Local charities and organisations - check with your council for support groups, therapy and advice in your local area

Private counselling and psychotherapy - search online directories for therapists in your area, or click here to find qualified therapists who specialise in working with clients affected by abuse

Need a Therapy Session ASAP?

Here's who's next available...

See other available therapists ›
Are you a therapist?
Apply to be on the platform  ›