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What is abuse?

It is important that we do not limit our view of what constitutes abuse or neglect, as they can take many forms and the circumstances of the individual case should always be considered. However, the sort of behaviour which it might include could give rise to a safeguarding concern:

  • Physical abuse - assault, hitting, slapping, pushing, misuse of medication, restraint or inappropriate physical sanctions
  • Domestic abuse - psychological, sexual, financial, emotional abuse; ‘honor’ based violence and Female Genital Mutilation; forced marriage
  • Sexual abuse - rape, indecent exposure, sexual harassment, inappropriate looking or touching, sexual teasing or innuendo, sexual photography, non-consenting adult
  • Psychological abuse - emotional abuse, threats of harm or abandonment, deprivation of contact, humiliation, blaming, controlling, intimidation, coercion, harassment, verbal abuse, cyber bullying
  • Financial or material abuse - theft, fraud, internet scamming, coercion, misuse or misappropriation of property, possessions or Benefits
  • Modern Slavery - slavery, human trafficking, forced labour and domestic servitude, Discriminatory abuse – harassment or slurs because of race,gender and gender identity, age, disability, sexual orientation or religion
  • Neglect and acts of omission - ignoring medical, emotional or physical care needs; failure to provide access to appropriate health, care and support and the withholding of the necessities of life, such as medication, adequate nutrition and heating
  • Self-neglect - behaviour neglecting to care for one’s personal hygiene, health or surroundings, such as hoarding
  • Organisational abuse - neglect and poor care within an institution or care setting

Some instances of abuse will constitute a criminal offence which may lead to criminal proceedings, and appropriate intervention must take this into account. In all cases, priority must be given to ensuring the safety and care of the adult(s) at risk - and, as appropriate, action will be co-ordinated with the police and other relevant authorities.