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To Sam

Physical and emotional abuse

My friend, let's call her M, has told me about being both physically and emotionally abused for a while now. She lives alone with her Mum who is the one she says does stuff. It ranges from shouting at her, insulting her, to hitting her and scratching her. Just tonight she said her Mum had said she was going to get her friends to slap her. I've tried getting her to tell people and contact childline but she won't. She's really shy so won't talk over the phone and there's no real way I can make her tell anyone. She said she told her grandma but her Mum denies everything. She generally seems okay, it looks to be a slightly rare thing, so I'm not as worried about her doing anything to herself, but I just hate seeing her hurt and upset. Thing is I haven't seen any evidence either, which makes it hard to know whether she's telling the truth or not.

Hope you have time to respond, I'm trying to keep her positive and she should be okay in a day maybes. Its hard to tell.


Ask Sam


Hi there,

Thanks for getting in touch with me.

You sound really concerned about your friend, and yes, what’s happening to her is wrong. It’s not OK for her mum to say and do things to hurt her and it sounds as though your friend has had to cope with things being wrong at home for some time.

ChildLine is here for your friend of course but you’re right when you say that there’s no way you could make her talk to us. It’s OK if she is not ready to tell someone yet, but it would be important that she has all the facts about how ChildLine works. Make sure she knows that she could talk about what happens at home and we won’t tell anyone. ChildLine is allowed to keep things confidential, even if she is being hurt – we usually only want to tell someone when we think it would save someone’s life. You can find out more about that in our confidentiality promise.

If your friend is worried about what it’s like to talk on the phone there’s a couple of things she could try. She could try calling and not saying anything – lots of people do this to see what it’s like to phone ChildLine and that’s OK, we don’t mind it when young people stay silent because if it helps them in the long run, then that’s a good thing. No call is ever a waste of our time.

Calling ChildLine is free from any phone – including mobile phones and phone boxes – and doesn’t show up on the phone bill either, so it’s not possible to tell that you’ve called by looking at it.

The second thing she could do is have you call and talk to us while she is with you. You are in control when you talk to ChildLine, and can end the call at any time. You might also find it helpful to read our advice about helping a friend.

Your friend M can also talk to ChildLine online – either through a 1-2-1 chat or through sending us an email through the locker. Don’t forget to mention to her that we have message boards where she can talk with other young people who might be going through similar things at home.

It would be important for you to make sure you’re looking after yourself too as it sounds like this has had a big impact on you - seeing your friend so upset and hurt. ChildLine can be here for you to talk to as well – even if it’s about someone else’s problem because sometimes the problems of people you care about can become a problem for you too.

I’m really glad you sent me this message and I hope that you and your friend get in touch with us to talk more soon.

Take care,


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