Worried about someone - Safeguarding Adults

Abuse and neglect

What are abuse and neglect?

There are many forms of abuse and neglect which can include:

  • physical abuse: for example, being hit, slapped or punched.
  • psychological or emotional abuse: for example, intimidation, threats of harm or controlling behaviour.
  • sexual abuse: for example, indecent exposure, rape, sexual harassment or sexual acts where an adult has not consented or was pressured into consenting.
  • financial or material abuse: for example, misuse of someone’s money, possessions or property.
  • domestic abuse: can include some or all of the above and also includes so called honour-based violence.
  • neglect: for example, not providing necessary food, clothing, shelter or medical care.
  • self-neglect: for example, someone neglecting their own personal hygiene, health and surroundings.
  • discriminatory abuse: for example, harassment because of race, gender, age, disability, sexuality or religion.
  • modern slavery: for example, human trafficking, forced labour and domestic servitude.
  • organisational abuse: for example, neglect and poor practice within a setting such as a care home or hospital, or in relation to care provided at home.

Signs of abuse and neglect

There may be many signs of abuse but some of the common ones are:

  • unexplained injuries
  • unusual bruising
  • weight loss
  • fearfulness and anxiety
  • lack of money, food or clothing or unexplained debt
  • unusually disturbed behaviour
  • inappropriately sexualised behaviour
  • bullying
  • lack of choice in how to live day to day life

Where does abuse or neglect happen?

Abuse can happen anywhere. For example, it can happen in someone's own home, in a public place, in hospital, in a care home or in college, it can take place when an adult lives alone or with others. It is far more likely that the person responsible for the abuse is known to the adult and is in a position of trust and power. 

Anyone can carry out abuse or neglect, including, spouses or partners, other family members, neighbours, friends, acquaintances, local residents, people who deliberately exploit adults they perceive as vulnerable to abuse, paid staff, professionals, volunteers and strangers.