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What is abuse?

Abuse can be single act or repeated acts by a person against someone else that is a significant violation of that individual's human and civil rights.


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Physical abuse

  • Assaulting someone, for example, hitting, pushing, pinching or shaking.
  • It is also misusing medication to sedate someone, or unlawfully restraining him or her.
  • It can be exposing them to excessive heat or cold or withholding food or drink.
  • Feelings of exploitation by the adult at risk, other family members and/or people in authority.
  • Hate and mate crime - are both serious and should be reported.
  • Domestic abuse - includes emotional, sexual, physical abuse and financial deprivation.

Sexual abuse

  • Raping, sexual assault, or sexual acts such as unwanted touching is sexual abuse. It is also sexual innuendo or pressurising a person, without the ability to consent, into sexual activity or abusing a position of trust to engage in sexual activity with a vulnerable adult.

Psychological/emotional abuse

  • Is the use of threats to harm, intimidate or control a vulnerable person. It can also be humiliation and depriving a person of social or other forms of normal contact.
  • Enforced, unplanned changes in lifestyle, which could affect a person's personal ambitions.
  • Living with someone who shows major behavioural disturbances.
  • Communication problems involving hearing, memory or speech.

Financial and material abuse

  • Includes theft, fraud, exploitation, pressure in connection with wills or property and financial transactions.
  • It is the misuse or misappropriation of property, possessions or welfare benefits or the misuse of legal powers to act for the vulnerable adult.
  • Financial difficulties, such as low income or debt arrears.

Neglect and acts of omission

  • Including ignoring medical or physical needs, failure to allow access to appropriate health, social care and educational services and withholding the necessities of life.
  • Perceived ingratitude by the adult at risk.
  • Drug or alcohol related problems.
  • Living in poverty and/or overcrowded housing.

Discriminatory abuse

  • Includes abuse and behaviour towards the vulnerable adult that is racist, sexist, homophobic or based on disability, age, or other forms of harassment.
  • Dealing with cultural differences and expectations.

Institutional abuse

  • Can occur in formal settings providing health and social care including a care home or a hospital.
  • It is the mistreatment of people brought about by poor or inadequate standards of care and poor practice that affects the whole setting.
  • Reversal of the parent/child relationship.
  • Violence by the adult at risk against the care.
  • Having poor self worth and a sense of not been cared for and respected.

Self Neglect  

  • Neglecting to care for one's personal hygiene, health or surroundings and including  behaviour such as hoarding.

Domestic abuse 

  • Violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over  who are or have been intimate partners  or family members regardless of gender or sexuality.
  • Domestic abuse may also involve violence against children or the elderly.
  • Any incidents or pattern of incidents of controlling coercive or threatening behaviour.

Modern slavery

  • Slavery, servitude and forced or compulsory labour.
  • Forced to work through mental or physical threat.
  • Owned or controlled by an 'employer' usually through mental or physical abuse or the threat of abuse.
  • Dehumanised, treated as a 'commodity'  or bought and sold as a property.
  • Physically constrained or has restrictions placed on his /her freedom of movement.  

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Article utilities:  Bookmark and Share Print Print this page Last updated: 06 Nov 2017 at 13:00