Signs of abuse and what to look for

  • Abuse is a violation of an individual’s human and civil rights by any other person or persons. Abuse can take many forms:

Physical Abuse

  • Hitting, slapping, pushing, kicking and burning
  • Giving a person medicine that may harm them
  • Restraining
  • Disciplining a person in an inappropriate way.

Possible signs

  • Fractures, bruising, burns, pain and marks
  • Not wanting to be touched.

Psychological Abuse

  • Emotional abuse, verbal abuse, humiliation and bullying
  • The use of threats.

Possible signs

  • Being withdrawn
  • Too eager to do everything they are asked
  • Showing compulsive behaviour
  • Not being able to do things they used to
  • Not being able to concentrate or focus

Financial or Material Abuse

  • Stealing from the person
  • Cheating them
  • Using them for financial gain
  • Putting pressure on them about wills, property, inheritance or financial transactions
  • Misusing or stealing their property, possessions or benefits

Possible signs

  • Having unusual difficulty with finances
  • Not having enough money
  • Being too protective of money and things they own
  • Not paying bills
  • Not having normal home comforts.

Sexual Abuse

  • Direct or indirect sexual activity where the vulnerable adult cannot or does not agree to it

Possible signs

  • Physical symptoms include genital itching or soreness or having a sexually transmitted disease
  • Using bad language
  • Not wanting to be touched
  • Behaving in a sexually inappropriate way
  • Changes in appearance

Neglect or Acts of Omission

  • Withdrawing or not giving the help that a vulnerable adult needs, so causing them to suffer

Possible signs

  • Having pain or discomfort
  • Being very hungry, thirsty or untidy
  • Failing health
  • Changes in behaviour

Discriminatory Abuse

  • Abusing a person because of their ethnic origin, religion, language, age, sexuality, gender or disability

Possible signs

  • The person is not receiving the care services they require
  • Their carer is overly critical or makes insulting remarks about the person
  • The person is made to dress differently from how they wish

If you suspect someone to be at risk of harm or abuse contact the Northern Trust Adult Protection Safeguarding Team.

If it is out of normal working hours, contact the Emergency Social Work Service.

If someone is in immediate danger or has been harmed you should call 999.



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