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Abuse and neglect

The Care Act 2014 identifies ten categories of abuse and neglect that should be included within Safeguarding Adult policy and procedures.

Incidents of abuse may be one-off or multiple, and affect one person or more. Professionals and others should look beyond single incidents or individuals to identify patterns of harm. 

Patterns of abuse vary and include:

  • serial abuse. The perpetrator seeks out and 'grooms' individuals. Sexual abuse sometimes falls into this pattern as do some forms of financial abuse;
  • long-term abuse. In the context of an ongoing family relationship such as domestic violence between spouses or generations or persistent psychological abuse;
  • opportunistic abuse. Theft occurring because money or jewellery has been left lying around.

Types of abuse and neglect

1. Physical abuse including:

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


2. Domestic violence including:

  • psychological
  • physical
  • sexual
  • financial
  • emotional abuse
  • so called 'honour' based violence


3. 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
  • sexual assault
  • sexual acts to which the adult has not consented or was pressured into consenting


4. Psychological abuse including:

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


5. 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
  • the misuse or misappropriation of property, possessions or benefits


6. Modern slavery encompasses:

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


7. Discriminatory abuse including forms of:

  • harassment
  • slurs or similar treatment: 
  • because of race
  • gender and gender identity
  • age
  • disability
  • sexual orientation
  • religion


8. Organisational abuse:        

Including neglect and poor care practice within an institution or specific care setting such as a hospital or care home. For example, or in relation to care provided in one's own home. This may range from one off incidents to ongoing ill-treatment. It can be through neglect or poor professional practice as a result of the structure, policies, processes and practices within an organisation.

9. 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


10. Self-neglect:

This covers a wide range of behaviour neglecting to care for one's personal hygiene, health or surroundings and includes behaviour such as hoarding.  Self-neglect may not prompt a section 42 enquiry. Make assessments on a case by case basis. A decision to respond under safeguarding will depend on the adult's ability to protect themselves by controlling their own behaviour. There may come a point when they are no longer able to do this, without external support.

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