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Abuse - what is it ?

Abuse is not normal and never ok. Being abused means a person is being deliberately hurt by someone else. 

What types of abuse are there?

Abuse may be a single act or it can continue over a long time and may take different forms.


Abuse may be:

  • Financial or material abuse - including theft, fraud, internet scamming, coercion in relation to an adult's financial affairs or arrangements, including in connection with wills, property, inheritance or financial transactions, or the misuse or misappropriation of property, possessions or benefits.

  • Physical abuse - including assault, hitting, slapping, pushing, misuse of medication, restraint or inappropriate physical sanctions.

  • Neglect and acts of omission - including ignoring medical, emotional or physical care needs, failure to provide access to appropriate health, care and support or educational services, the withholding of the necessities of life, such as medication, adequate nutrition and heating.

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

  • Psychological abuse - including emotional abuse, threats of harm or abandonment, deprivation of contact, humiliation, blaming, controlling, intimidation, coercion, harassment, verbal abuse, cyber bullying, isolation or unreasonable and unjustified withdrawal of services or supportive networks

  • Organisational abuse - including neglect or poor care practice within an organisation or specific care setting, such as a hospital day carel or care home. It can also be in relation to care provided in your own home. This may range from one-off incidents to on-going ill-treatment. It can be through neglect or poor professional practice as a result of the structure, policies, processes and practices within an organisation.

  • Discriminatory abuse - including forms of harassment, slurs or similar treatment because of race, gender and gender identity, age, disability, sexual orientation or religion.

  • Self neglect - this covers a wide range of behaviour such as neglecting to care for your personal hygiene, health or surroundings and includes behaviour such as hoarding.

  • Domestic abuse - including psychological, physical, sexual, financial, emotional, or so-called 'honour' based violence.

  • Modern slavery - encompasses slavery, human trafficking, forced labour and domestic servitude. Trafficking and slave masters use whatever means they have at their disposal to coerce, deceive and force individuals into a life of abuse, servitude and inhumane treatment.


Abuse and neglect should not happen to anyone at anytime. But it does happen, often because people do not recognise that the situation they are in is not right.

Everyone has the right to live safely and in control of their day-to-day lives. If you think you are being abused or at risk, talk to someone as soon as possible.

Acknowledgement to Dudley-Safeguarding for their excellent website information. page accessed 3/9/18

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