Types of abuse and neglect

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What is Abuse and Neglect? How do I spot the signs?
Abuse can happen anywhere, may be committed by anyone and can take many forms.

Abuse is described as a violation of an individual’s human and civil rights by any other person or persons which results in significant harm. Abuse may consist of a single act or repeated acts. Abuse can occur in any relationship and may result in significant harm to, or exploitation of, the person subjected to it. 

Types of Abuse and Neglect
Below are some examples of what amounts to abuse and some information that aims to help people who come into contact with people with care and support needs to identify abuse and recognise possible indicators. Signs of abuse can often be difficult to detect.

  • Physical Abuse
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    Physical Abuse includes hitting, kicking, misuse of medication, inappropriate sanctions or unlawful or inappropriate restraint. Possible indicators of physical abuse include:

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

    Get more information from:
    Citizen’s Advice
    Victim Support
    Age UK

  • Domestic Abuse
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    Domestic Abuse is an incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour, violence or abuse by someone who is or has been an intimate partner or family member regardless of sexuality. Possible indicators of domestic abuse include:

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

    Get more information from:
    National Domestic Abuse Hotline
    Women’s Aid
    Respect Men’s Advice Line
    ManKind Initiative
    If you identify as LGBT+, you can contact Galop


  • Sexual Abuse
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    Sexual Abuse includes rape and sexual assault or sexual acts to which the adult at risk has not consented or could not consent or was pressured into consenting. Possible indicators of sexual abuse include:

    • Bruising, particularly to the thighs, buttocks and upper arms and marks on the neck
    • Torn, stained or bloody underclothing
    • Bleeding, pain or itching in the genital area
    • Unusual difficulty in walking or sitting
    • Foreign bodies in genital or rectal openings
    • Infections, unexplained genital discharge, or sexually transmitted diseases
    • Pregnancy in a woman who is unable to consent to sexual intercourse
    • The uncharacteristic use of explicit sexual language or significant changes in sexual behaviour or attitude
    • Incontinence not related to any medical diagnosis
    • Self-harming
    • Poor concentration, withdrawal, sleep disturbance
    • Excessive fear/apprehension of, or withdrawal from, relationships
    • Fear of receiving help with personal care
    • Reluctance to be alone with a particular person

    Get more information from:
    NHS
    Find Rape and Sexual Assault Referral Centres
    Victim Support
    Rape Crisis
    Survivors Male Rape and Sexual Abuse


  • Psychological Abuse
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    Psychological Abuse includes threats of harm or abandonment, humiliation, blaming, controlling, coercion, harassment, verbal abuse. Possible indicators of psychological abuse include:

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

    Get more information from:
    Relate
    Age UK
    Samaritans

  • Financial and Material Abuse
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    Financial and Material Abuse includes theft, fraud, exploitation, pressure in connection with financial matters, or the misuse of someone else's finances. Possible indicators of financial or material abuse include:

    • Missing personal possessions
    • Unexplained lack of money or inability to maintain lifestyle
    • Unexplained withdrawal of funds from accounts
    • Power of attorney or lasting power of attorney (LPA) being obtained after the person has ceased to have mental capacity
    • Failure to register an LPA after the person has ceased to have mental capacity to manage their finances, so that it appears that they are continuing to do so
    • The person allocated to manage financial affairs is evasive or uncooperative
    • The family or others show unusual interest in the assets of the person
    • Signs of financial hardship in cases where the person’s financial affairs are being managed by a court appointed deputy, attorney or LPA
    • Recent changes in deeds or title to property
    • Rent arrears and 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
    • Disparity between the person’s living conditions and their financial resources, e.g. insufficient food in the house
    • Unnecessary property repairs
  • Modern Slavery
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    Modern Slavery includes human trafficking, forced labour and domestic servitude. Possible indicators of modern slavery include:

    • 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
    • Living in dirty, cramped or overcrowded accommodation and or living and working at the same address
    • Lack of personal effects or identification documents
    • Always wearing the same clothes
    • Avoidance of eye contact, appearing frightened or hesitant to talk to strangers
    • Fear of law enforcers

    Get more information from:
    Modern Slavery Helpline
    Victim Support
    Age UK

  • Neglect and Acts of Omission
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    Neglect and Acts of Omission include ignoring medical or physical care needs, and the withholding of necessities, such as medication and adequate nutrition. Possible indicators of neglect and acts of omission include:

    • Poor environment – dirty or unhygienic
    • Poor physical condition and/or personal hygiene
    • Pressure sores or ulcers
    • Malnutrition or unexplained weight loss
    • Untreated injuries and medical problems
    • Inconsistent or reluctant contact with medical and social care organisations
    • Accumulation of untaken medication
    • Uncharacteristic failure to engage in social interaction
    • Inappropriate or inadequate clothing

    Get more information from:
    Age UK
    Citizen’s Advice

  • Discriminatory Abuse
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    Discriminatory Abuse includes abuse, such a harassment, slurs or hate crime based on a person's race, sex, disability, faith, sexual orientation or age. Possible indicators of discriminatory abuse include:

    • The person appears withdrawn and isolated
    • Expressions of anger, frustration, fear or anxiety
    • The support on offer does not take account of the person’s individual needs in terms of a protected characteristic

    Get more information from:
    Victim Support
    Age UK
    Stop Hate UK
    Stop Hate Crime Resources
    If you identify as LGBT+, you can contact Galop

  • Organisational Abuse
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    Organisational Abuse is where any of these forms of abuse above are caused by the way an organisation practices. Possible indicators of organisational abuse includes:

    • Lack of flexibility and choice for people using the service
    • Inadequate staffing levels
    • People being hungry or dehydrated
    • Poor standards of care
    • Lack of personal clothing and possessions and communal use of personal items
    • Lack of adequate procedures
    • Poor record-keeping and missing documents
    • Absence of visitors
    • Few social, recreational and educational activities
    • Public discussion of personal matters
    • Unnecessary exposure during bathing or using the toilet
    • Absence of individual care plans
    • Lack of management overview and support

    Get more information from:
    Age UK
    Citizen’s Advice
    Samaritans

  • Self-Neglect
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    Self-Neglect includes situations where a person is declining support with their care needs, hygiene, health or their environment, and this is having a significant impact on their overall wellbeing. Possible indicators of self-neglect include:

    • Very poor personal hygiene
    • Unkempt appearance
    • Lack of essential food, clothing or shelter
    • Malnutrition and/or dehydration
    • Living in squalid or unsanitary conditions
    • Neglecting household maintenance
    • Hoarding
    • Collecting a large number of animals in inappropriate conditions
    • Non-compliance with health or care services
    • Inability or unwillingness to take medication or treat illness or injury

    Get more information from:
    Age UK
    Samaritans
    Citizen’s Advice

Contact

Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH)
T: 0161 770 7777


All content © 2020 Oldham Safeguarding Adults Board

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