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Safeguarding policy

Appendix 8 -
Definition of Abuse in Adults

What is abuse of adults at risk?


Abuse is a violation of an individual’s human and civil rights by any other person or persons. Abuse may consist of a single act or repeated acts. It may be physical, verbal or psychological, it may be an act of neglect or an omission to act, or it may occur when a vulnerable person is persuaded to enter into a financial or sexual transaction to which he or she has not consented, or cannot consent. Abuse can occur in any relationship and may result in significant harm to, or exploitation of, the person subjected to it.

Physical Abuse -

This is the infliction of pain or physical injury, which is either caused deliberately, or through lack of care. 

Psychological or Emotional Abuse -

These are acts or behaviour, which cause mental distress or anguish or negate the wishes of the adult at risk. It is also behaviour that has a harmful effect on the adult at risk’s emotional health and development or any other form of mental cruelty.

Sexual Abuse -

This is the involvement in sexual activities to which the person has not consented or does not truly comprehend and so cannot give informed consent, or where the other party is in a position of trust, power or authority and uses this to override or overcome lack of consent. 

Neglect, or Act of Omission -

This is the repeated deprivation of assistance that the adult at risk needs for important activities of daily living, including the failure to intervene in behaviour which is dangerous to the adult at risk or to others. A vulnerable person may be suffering from neglect when their general well being or development is impaired.

Financial or Material Abuse -

This is the inappropriate use, misappropriation, embezzlement or theft of money, property or possessions.   Discriminatory Abuse  This is the inappropriate treatment of an adult at risk because of their age, gender, race, religion, cultural background, sexuality, disability etc. Discriminatory abuse exists when values, beliefs or culture result in a misuse of power that denies opportunity to some groups or individuals. Discriminatory abuse links to all other forms of abuse.

Institutional Abuse -

This is the mistreatment or abuse of an adult at risk by a regime or individuals within an institution (e.g. hospital or care home) or in the community. It can be through repeated acts of poor or inadequate care and neglect or poor professional practice.

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