There are three types of abuse:
1. Emotional- The most common and most often dismissed type of abuse.
2. Physical- Most often what is seen on TV and articles about abuse.
3. Sexual- Often occurs without being disclosed (even years after the event).
Sadly most people still think of a broken, battered individual when they think about someone suffering from domestic violence or an abused child. The problem with this image is that abuse victims do not look like this.
An abused child looks like your 10 year olds' best friend or the pitcher on the hometown baseball team. Children experiencing daily child abuse play and have quite normal lives on the outside because they are trained and taught from very early to keep their pain to themselves. These children know that exposed weakness will be used as a tool for pain or torment. They are trained to keep their abuser protected at any cost. Should the abuser be exposed, the child is keenly aware that they will experience consequences regardless of how the exposure occurred. These children don't have saviors because the situations they are part of do not have easy answers. Most of these children trust the very people that abuse and hurt them more than anyone else in the world. They normally do not even know that not all households run the way that theirs do.
The victim of domestic violence probably looks very much like the lady who sat next to you at the movie. He might be the gas station attendant who dropped coffee on the counter and apologized to the man that impatiently left to go get more coffee because of the abuse he endures at home. The parent that you talk to every week during soccer practice might face cruel harassment when she forgets to bring cold beer home after the game. Victims of abuse are real people with lives that look basically the same as everyone else. We are intelligent humans that want basically the same things that anyone else wants. Many find themselves in abusive situations due to no fault of heir own, but rarely know what to do to stop the pain they experience. If we are honest with ourselves, pretty much anyone has the potential to be an abuse victim at some point in their lives.
Abuse victims can't be identified by sight anymore than they might be identified by a specific smell. Anyone who experiences abuse has learned to wear a mask that hides their feelings. In general victims are experts at not being seen or identified. It is important to learn to listen for the clues in the things abuse victims say.