By NSPCC CEO, Peter Wanless

In a dramatic episode that airs this week, Hollyoaks character James Nightingale reveals to John Paul McQueen that his father, Mac used to physically abuse him when he was a child.

The NSPCC has a long history campaigning against and raising awareness of physical abuse, both non-recent and what is happening in the here and now.

It is this experience that we drew upon when working with Hollyoaks on their new very powerful and emotional storyline, which we hope will give anyone else going through similar issues the confidence and reassurance to speak out and get help.

Many people who were abused in childhood believe that they are to blame and that the abuse was their fault. But this is never the case. Whether the abuse happened once or hundreds of times, a year or 70 years ago, whatever the circumstances, there are people who can help. It is never too late.

As well as helping adults who were physically abused in the past the NSPCC is working hard to stop these traumas being inflicted on children in the present, and helping those who tragically do fall victim.

Last year more than 9,000 children and young people received counselling from Childline for physical abuse that left the victim with injuries that included bruises, broken bones, burns or cuts.

At the NSPCC we know that the vast majority of this harm is carried out by someone the child or young person knows, such as a relative or family friend. There are signs that can be watched out for, adults who physically abuse children may have:

  • emotional or behavioural problems such as difficulty controlling their anger
  • family or relationship problems
  • experienced abuse as a child
  • parenting difficulties including unrealistic expectations of children, not understanding a child’s needs or no idea how to respond to a child
  • health issues

Whatever the circumstances of the individual there is absolutely no excuse for this type of behaviour. Abuse can last a life-time, something that the Hollyoaks viewers will be learning more about this week when James Nightingale reveals his own secret from the past.

If you’re a young person don’t forget that Childline is online, or on the phone, any time of day or night at or 0800 1111.

If you’re an adult and have experience historic physical abuse or are worried about a child you can call 0808 800 5000.

Thanks to Peter Wanless for this contribution and the NSPCC for their constant support and guidance on James' storyline.