Abuse and neglect of vulnerable adults
Everyone has the right to live in safety, free from abuse and neglect.
Abuse and neglect can occur anywhere: in your own home or a public place, while you are in hospital or attending a day centre, or in college or in a care home.
You may be living alone or with others. The person causing the harm may be a stranger to you, but more often then not the person is known, and it can be the case that you usually feel safe with them. They are usually in a position of trust and power, such as a health and care professional, relative or neighbour.
Different forms of Abuse and neglect
There are many forms of abuse and neglect including:
This includes indecent exposure, sexual harassment, inappropriate looking or touching, as well as rape. Sexual teasing or innuendo, sexual photography, subjection to pornography, witnessing sexual acts that you didn't agree to or were pressured into consenting to, all count as sexual abuse.
This can include being assaulted, hit, slapped, pushed, restrained, being denied food or water, or not being helped to go to the bathroom when you need to go. It can also include misuse of your medication.
This can include someone emotionally abusing you or threatening to hurt or abandon you, stopping you from seeing people and humiliating, blaming, controlling, intimidating or harassing you. It also includes verbal abuse, cyber bullying and isolation, or an unreasonable and unjustified withdrawal of services or support networks.
This is typically an incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour, violence or abuse by someone who is, or has been, an intimate partner or family member.
This includes some form of harassment, slurs or similar unfair treatment relating to race, gender and gender identity, age, disability, sexual orientation, or religion.
This could be someone stealing money or other valuables from you, or it might be someone who is appointed to look after your money on your behalf using the money inappropriately or coercing you into spending it in a way you are not happy with. Internet scams and doorstep crime are also common forms of financial abuse.
Neglect is also a form of abuse. Neglect includes not being provided with enough food or the right kind of food, or not being taken proper care of. Leaving you without help to wash or change dirty or wet clothes, not getting you to a doctor when you need one, or not making sure you have the right medicines all count as neglect.
For more information please use the link below to NHS Choices
vulnerable-people-abuse-safeguarding NHS Choices
Who to contact about Elder Abuse
If an adult has told you about their situation, you might want to talk to other people who know the person you're worried about to find out if they have similar concerns.
There are also professionals you can contact. You can pass on your concerns to the person's GP and social worker. Local authorities have social workers who deal specifically with cases of abuse and neglect. Call the person's local council and ask for the adult safeguarding coordinator.
You can also speak to the police about the situation. Some forms of abuse are crimes, so the police will be interested. If the person is in danger or needs medical attention, call their GP if known or emergency services if immediate assistance is required.
You can also call the Action on Elder Abuse Helpline, free and in confidence on 0808 808 8141
Child Protection Guidance
Protect them from child abuse
The chances of your child being harmed by an adult are very small. But there are still steps you can take to protect them.
People who abuse children can come from all walks of life, and all ages, classes and professions. They can also be women.
Often, victims of child abuse know their abuser. It could be a family member, a friend, or someone in a trusted position, such as a coach or mentor.
After abusing a child, abusers may tell a child to keep it a secret and even threaten them.
If you think a child is being abused, take action. Call the NSPCC child protection helpline on 0808 800 5000 to talk about your concerns.
If your child or a child you know is abused, call the police immediately.
You could also talk to any clinician at your surgery, health advisor or social services for advice about child abuse.
The NSPCC offers advice on how to protect children. It advises:
- Helping children to understand their bodies and sex in a way that is appropriate for their age
- Developing an open and trusting relationship, so they feel they can talk to you about anything
- Explaining the difference between safe secrets(such as a surprise party) and unsafe secrets (things that make them unhappy or uncomfortable)
- teaching children to respect family boundaries, such as privacy in sleeping, dressing and bathing
- teaching them self-respect and how to say no
- supervising internet, mobile and television use
For further information please use the link below to NHS Choices
Child safety NHS Choices
What is child exploitation?
Before explaining child sexual exploitation, it is helpful to understand what is meant by the age of consent (the age at which it is legal to have sex). This is 16 for everyone in the UK. Under the age of 16, any sort of sexual touching is illegal.
It is illegal to take, show or distribute indecent photographs of children, or to pay or arrange sexual services from children.
It is also against the law if someone in a position of trust (such as a teacher) has sex with a person under 18 that they have responsibility for.
Child sexual exploitation is when people use the power they have over younger people to sexually abuse them. Their power may result from a difference in age, gender, intellect, strength, money or other resources.
People often think of child sexual exploitation in terms of serious organised crime, but it also covers abuse in relationships and may involve informal exchanges of sex for something a child wants or needs, such as accommodation, gifts, cigarettes or attention. Some children are "groomed" through "boyfriends" who then force the child or young person into having sex with friends or associates.
Sexual abuse covers penetrative sexual acts, sexual touching, masturbation and the misuse of sexual images-such as on the internet or by mobile phone.
Part of the challenge of tackling sexual exploitation is that the children and young people involved may not understand that non-consensual sex (sex they haven't agreed to) or forced sex -including oral sex- is rape.
Signs of child sexual exploitation include the child or young person:
- Going missing for periods of time or regularly returning home late
- skipping school or being disruptive in class
- appearing with unexplained gifts, or possessions that can't be accounted for
- experiencing health problems that may indicate a sexually transmitted disease
- having mood swings and changes in temperament
- using drugs/and or alcohol
- displaying inappropriate sexualised behaviour, such as over-familiarity with strangers, dressing in a sexualised manner or sending sexualised images by mobile phone ("sexting")
- they may show signs of unexplained physical harm, such as bruising and cigarette burns
What to do if you suspect a child is being sexually exploited
If you suspect that a child or young person has been or is being sexually exploited, the NSPCC recommends that you do not confront the alleged abuser. Confronting them may place the child in greater physical danger and may give the abuser time to confuse or threaten them into silence.
Instead seek professional advice. Discuss your concerns with your local authority's children's services (safeguarding team), the police or an independent organisation such as the NSPCC. They may be able to advise on how to prevent further abuse and how to talk to your child to get an understanding of the situation.
If you know for certain that a child has been or is being sexually exploited, report this directly to the police.
For further information please use the link below to NHS Choices
Child Exploitation NHS Choices