Safeguarding Adults - What is Abuse?

The government defines abuse as: ‘The violation of an individual’s human and civil rights by any other person or persons’

An Adult At Risk is:

'Any person over the age of 18 years who is unable to look after their own well being, property, rights or other interests; and is at risk of harm (either from another person’s behaviour or from their own behaviour); and because they have a disability, mental disorder, illness or physical or mental infirmity, are more vulnerable to being harmed than other adults.'

Abuse can take many forms, including:

  • Physical abuse
  • Neglect (and acts of omission such as withholding food or medicine)
  • Psychological abuse (bullying, threats, emotional blackmail, etc.)
  • Sexual abuse
  • Financial or material abuse (theft or misappropriation of money or possessions)
  • Discrimination (racist, sexist, homophobic, disability abuse, etc.)
  • Institutional abuse (inappropriate care given by an organisation)
  • Hate Crime
  • Domestic Abuse

Abuse can occur in any personal relationship, or any situation where a service is being given, including formal or informal caregivers, or by a person who has power or influence over the life of a dependent adult.

The abuse could be a single act, or repeated acts over a period of time. It may take place because of a failure to act, or a failure to carry out appropriate care tasks. It may happen to one person, or several people at the same time.

How and when to report abuse

Back to Safeguarding main page