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Abuse can be intentional, unintentional or the result of neglect or failure to act. It includes depriving someone of the services or treatments by someone who has a duty to provide those services or ensure that someone else is providing them. Some examples would be not providing adequate medication, over-medicating or misuse of medication.

Other examples are not providing enough food or drink resulting in dehydration or malnutrition.

Or when a vulnerable person is persuaded to enter into a financial or sexual act to which they have 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.

A question to ask might be – is a pattern of abuse happening? This is why it is so important to record incidents of abuse so you can see at a glance if a pattern is occurring.

Abuse can happen for numerous reasons and we need to understand the possible causes and indicators of abuse in order to work with cases of abuse.

Some indicators of abuse are highly suggestive of abuse, others less so. No list of indicators can be complete and it is important in every case to consider the person's experience of living in his or her family and the other things that are happening in his or her life.

If anyone has suffered one kind of abuse, the likelihood of suffering another kind is increased.

It is for the individual professional to assess the situation and make a judgment about whether or not there is a need to refer.

Remember it is not always about what you do see or hear but sometimes what you cannot see or hear.

The indicators are equally applicable in residential and nursing homes, hospitals, people’s own homes, daycare centres and other community settings.

There are ten categories of abuse

  1. Physical
  2. Domestic violence or abuse
  3. Sexual
  4. Psychological or emotional abuse
  5. Financial or material
  6. Modern slavery
  7. Discriminatory Abuse
  8. Organisational Abuse
  9. Neglect or act of omission
  10. Self-neglect

As we mentioned before if it is discovered that a person is suffering from one type of abuse there is the likelihood that other types of abuse are taking place. For example – if a family member is financially abusing a vulnerable adult you could find that they are also being psychologically abused by being bullied or threatened for their money.