WarningCall 999 if you, or someone else, is being abused, or is in immediate danger.

Abuse or harm is when someone does or says things to make someone upset or frightened. They may be too scared to speak out or to stop them.The person may be abused or harmed on purpose, or by someone who may not realise that what they are doing to you is wrong. Abuse or harm can happen when someone has power over someone, and they do not agree to what is happening.

You can report a concern about an adult to the council.

What types of abuse are there?

There are many types of abuse. Expand the sections below to read more about each.

Physical abuse

This includes:

  • assault
  • hitting
  • slapping
  • pushing
  • misuse of medication
  • restraint or inappropriate physical sanctions

Possible indicators of physical abuse are:

  • 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 or changed behaviour in the presence of a particular person.
  • Signs of malnutrition.
  • Failure to seek medical treatment or frequent changes of GP.

Sexual abuse

This includes:

  • rape
  • indecent exposure
  • sexual harassment
  • inappropriate looking or touching
  • sexual teasing or innuendo
  • sexual photography
  • subjection to pornography or witnessing sexual acts
  • indecent exposure, sexual assault,or sexual acts to which the adult has not consented, or was pressured into consenting.

Possible indicators of sexual abuse are:

  • 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.

Emotional abuse

This is when people talk to you in unkind ways. Emotional abuse can be when people say bad things to hurt your feelings, shout at you or threaten you.

Some examples of emotional abuse are:

  • Calling you horrible names.
  • Blaming you for things when it’s not your fault.
  • Treating you like a child.
  • Ignoring you.

Financial abuse

This is when someone takes your money or things that belong to you without asking. It can also be when someone controls your money or things that belong to you without asking.

You may have a legal guardian or someone has the power of attorney for you. This is someone who would help you look after your money and things that belong to you.

If you have help to look after your money someone should always go to these people if they are supposed to.

Some examples of financial abuse are:

  • Someone stealing your money.
  • Someone making you pay for other people’s things.
  • When you don’t have a say in how your money is spent.

Neglect and acts of omission

Neglect is when people who are supposed to look after you don’t look after you properly.

Some examples of neglect are:

  • Being hungry.
  • Being cold a lot of the time.
  • Having only dirty clothes to wear.
  • Being put in danger.

Discriminatory abuse

This is when people say or do bad things to you. It can also be when people treat you unfairly or differently.

Examples of discriminatory abuse are someone being treated differently because:

  • of the colour of their skin.
  • they are disabled.
  • of their religion.
  • they are lesbian or gay.
  • they speak a different language.

Domestic violence and abuse

Domestic violence and abuse is when your current or previous partner or a member of your family hurt you or try and control what you do. Some examples of domestic abuse are:

  • forcing you to have sex.
  • being forced to marry someone when you do not want to.
  • being held against your will or taken somewhere you don’t want to be.
  • physical violence against you.

Modern slavery

Modern slavery is being forced to work illegally against your will. Some examples of modern slavery are:

  • being forced to work in prostitution or pornography.
  • carrying out housework or domestic chores with little or no pay.

Organisational abuse

Organisational abuse happens in care homes, hospitals and can even happen in your own home. It can happen once or all the time. Some examples of organisational abuse are:

  • care staff calling you names or hitting you.
  • care staff not helping you with washing and dressing.
  • being left alone in your room all day and care staff ignoring you.

Self neglect

Self neglect is when you do not look after yourself properly. Some examples of self neglect

  • wearing dirty clothes all the time.
  • not washing or looking after yourself properly.
  • missing doctors appointments.

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