Physical abuse is an act of another party involving contact intended to cause feelings of physical pain, injury, or other physical suffering or bodily harm. Physical abuse has been described among animals too, for example among the Adélie penguins. In most cases, children are the victims of physical abuse, but adults can be the sufferers too. Physically abused children are at risk for later interpersonal problems involving aggressive behavior, and adolescents are at a much greater risk for substance abuse. In addition, symptoms of depression, emotional distress, and suicidal ideation are also common features of people who have been physically abused. Studies have also shown that children with a history of physical abuse may meet DSM-IV-TR criteria for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
The causes of physical abuse against children are numerous but listed below are some of the common causes according to Mash and Wolfe.
- Many abusive and neglectful parents have had little exposure to positive parental models and supports.
- There is often a greater degree of stress in the family environment.
- Information-processing disturbances may cause maltreating parents to misperceive or mislabel their child's behavior, which leads to inappropriate responses.
- There is often a lack of awareness or understanding of developmentally appropriate expectations.
Forms of physical abuse 
Consensual physical abuse 
Consensual physical abuse is a common component of erotic humiliation and BDSM.
Seeking treatment is unlikely for a majority of people that are physically abused, and the ones who are seeking treatment are usually under some form of legal constraint. The prevention and treatment options for physically abused children include: enhancing positive experiences early in the development of the parent-child relationship, change how parents teach, discipline, and attend to their children, receive cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which specifically targets anger patterns and distorted beliefs, and receive training that focuses on parenting skills and expectations. This may include training in social competence and management of daily demands. Although these treatment and prevention strategies are to help children and parents of children who have been abused, some of these methods can also be applied to adults who have physically abused.
See also 
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