What is abuse

Safeguarding means protecting an adults right to live in safety, free from abuse and neglect.  It is about people and organisations working together to prevent and stop both the risks of and experience of abuse.

Abuse can happen anywhere; for example, in someone’s own home, in a public place, in hospital, in a care home or in college. It can take place whether an adult lives alone or with others.

Anyone can witness or become aware of information suggesting that abuse and neglect is occurring.

People who require care and support must be able to trust and depend on the people they rely on for help. It is vital that professionals, other staff and members of the public are vigilant on behalf of those unable to protect themselves. No abuse is acceptable.

 

Types of physical abuse

  • Assault, hitting, slapping, pushing, kicking, hair pulling, punching
  • Rough handling
  • Scalding and burning
  • Physical punishments
  • Inappropriate or unlawful use of restraint
  • Making someone purposefully uncomfortable (eg opening a window, removing blankets)
  • Misuse of medication (eg sedation)
  • Forcible feeding / withholding food

Possible indicators of physical abuse (the following list may be indications of many different problems, it is important not to jump to the wrong conclusion too quickly)

  • No explanation for injuries or inconsistency with the account of what happened
  • Injuries are inconsistent with the person’s lifestyle
  • Bruising, cuts, welts, burns and / or marks on the body or loss of hair in clumps
  • Frequent injuries
  • Unexplained falls
  • Subdued behaviour in the presence of a particular person
  • Signs of malnutrition
  • Failure to seek medical treatment or frequent changes of GP

Types of domestic abuse

  • Psychological
  • Physical
  • Sexual
  • Financial
  • Emotional abuse
  • So called ‘honour based’ violence

Coercive or controlling behaviour is a core part of domestic abuse and coercive behaviour can include:

  • Threats, humiliation, intimidation
  • Harming, pushing or frightening the person
  • Isolating the person from sources of support
  • Exploitation of money or support
  • Preventing the person from escaping abuse
  • Regulating everyday behaviour

Possible indicators of domestic abuse (the following list may be indications of many different problems, it is important not to jump to the wrong conclusion too quickly)

  • Low self-esteem
  • Feeling that the abuse is their fault when it is not
  • Physical evidence of violence such as bruises, cuts, broken bones
  • Verbal abuse and humiliation in front of others
  • Fear of outside intervention
  • Damage to home or property
  • Isolation – not seeing friends or family
  • Limited access to money

Types of sexual abuse

  • Rape
  • Indecent exposure
  • Sexual harassment
  • Inappropriate looking or touching
  • Sexual teasing or innuendo
  • Sexual photography
  • Subjection to pornography or witnessing sexual acts
  • Sexual assault
  • Sexual acts to which the adult has not consented or was pressured into consenting

Possible indicators of sexual abuse (the following list may be indications of many different problems, it is important not to jump to the wrong conclusion too quickly)

  • Bruising, particularly to the thighs, buttocks and upper arms and marks on the neck
  • Torn, stained or bloodied underclothing
  • Bleeding, pain or itching in the genital area
  • Unusual difficulty in walking or sitting
  • Pregnancy in a woman who is unable to consent to sexual intercourse
  • The uncharacteristic use of sexual language or significant changes in sexual behaviour or attitude
  • Self-harming
  • Poor concentration, withdrawal, sleep disturbance
  • Fear of receiving help with personal care
  • Reluctance to be alone with a particular person

Types of psychological abuse

  • Emotional abuse
  • Threats of harm or abandonment
  • Deprivation of contact
  • Humiliation
  • Blaming
  • Controlling
  • Intimidation
  • Coercion
  • Harassment
  • Verbal abuse
  • Cyber bullying
  • Isolation
  • Unreasonable and unjustified withdrawal of services or supportive networks

Possible indicators or psychological abuse (the following list may be indications of many different problems, it is important not to jump to the wrong conclusion too quickly)

  • An air of silence when the particular person is present
  • Withdrawal or change in the psychological state of the person
  • Insomnia
  • Low self-esteem
  • Uncooperative and aggressive behaviour
  • A change of appetite, weight loss/gain
  • Signs of distress: tearfulness / anger
  • Apparent false claims, by someone involved with the person, to attract unnecessary treatment

Types of financial / material abuse

  • Theft
  • Fraud
  • Internet scamming
  • Coercion in relation to an adult’s financial affairs or arrangements, including in connection with wills, property, inheritance or financial transactions
  • Employees taking a loan from a person using the service
  • Denying access to money
  • Misuse of benefits or direct payments in a family home
  • Someone moving into a person’s home living rent free without agreement or under duress
  • False representation, using another person’s bank account, cards or documents
  • Rogue trading – e.g unnecessary or overpriced property repairs and failure to carry out agreed repairs or poor workmanship

Possible indicators of financial / material abuse (the following list may be indications of many different problems, it is important not to jump to the wrong conclusion too quickly)

  • Missing personal belongings
  • Unexplained lack of money
  • Unexplained withdrawal of funds from accounts
  • Power of attorney or lasting power of attorney being obtained after the person has ceased to have mental capacity
  • The person allocated to manage financial affairs is evasive or uncooperative
  • Rent arrears or eviction notices
  • A lack of clear financial accounts held by a care home or service
  • Failure to provide receipts for shopping or other financial transactions carried out on behalf of the person

Modern slavery encompasses:

  • Slavery
  • Human trafficking
  • Forced labour and domestic servitude
  • Traffickers and slave masters using whatever means that have at their disposal to coerce, deceive and force individuals into a life of abuse, servitude and inhumane treatment

Possible indicators or modern slavery (the following list may be indications of many different problems, it is important not to jump to the wrong conclusion too quickly)

  • Signs of physical or emotional abuse
  • Appearing to be malnourished, unkempt or withdrawn
  • Isolation from the community, seeming under the control or influence of others
  • Lack of personal effects or identification documents
  • Always wearing the same clothes
  • Avoidance of eye contact, appearing frightened or hesitant to talk to strangers

Including neglect and poor care practice within an institution or specific care setting such as a hospital or care home, for example, or in relation to care provided in one’s own home. This may range from one off incidents to ongoing ill treatment. It can be through neglect or poor professional practice as a result of the structure, policies, processes and practices within an organisation.

Types of organisational abuse

  • Ignoring medical treatment and needs
  • Ignoring emotional or physical care needs
  • Failure to provide access to appropriate health, care and support or educational services
  • The withholding of the necessities of life, such as medication, adequate nutrition and heating

Possible indicators of organisational abuse (the following list may be indications of many different problems, it is important not to jump to the wrong conclusion too quickly)

  • The adult is hungry or dehydrated
  • Inappropriate use of power on control
  • ‘batch care’ – lack of individual care plans
  • Adults referred to, or spoken to with disrespect
  • Inflexible services based, on convenience of the provider rather than the person receiving services

Types of discriminatory abuse

  • Harassment
  • Slurs or similar treatment because of:
    • Race
    • Gender and gender identity
    • Age
    • Disability
    • Sexual orientation
    • Religion

Possible indicators of discriminatory abuse (the following list may be indications of many different problems, it is important not to jump to the wrong conclusion too quickly)

  • The adult appears withdrawn and isolated
  • The adult appears frightened and avoids eye contact
  • The adult appears withdrawn and avoids contact with other people

Types of neglect and acts of omission

  • Failure to provide or allow access to food, shelter, clothing, heating, stimulation and activity, personal or medical care
  • Providing care in a way that the adult dislikes
  • Failure to administer medication as prescribed
  • Failure to provide dignity and privacy
  • Preventing access to glasses, hearing aids, dentures and communication aids

Possible indicators of neglect and acts of omission (the following list may be indications of many different problems, it is important not to jump to the wrong conclusion too quickly)

  • Poor environment – dirty or unhygienic
  • Poor physical condition and/ or personal hygiene
  • Malnutrition or unexplained weight loss
  • Untreated injuries or medical conditions
  • Inappropriate or inadequate clothing

Types of self-neglect include –

  • Lack of self-care to an extent that it threatens personal health and safety
  • Inability to avoid self-harm
  • Failure to seek help or access to meet health and social care needs
  • Inability or unwillingness to manage one’s personal affairs

Possible indicators of self-neglect (the following list may be indications of many different problems, it is important not to jump to the wrong conclusion too quickly)

  • Very poor personal hygiene
  • Unkempt appearance
  • Lack of essential food, clothing or shelter
  • Living in squalid or unsanitary conditions
  • Hoarding
  • Collecting a large number of animals in inappropriate conditions
  • Unwillingness to take medication or treat illness or injury