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What Does Adult Abuse Look Like?

Protecting Adults - Adult - alone

For the purpose of Adult Support and Protection, there can be five main types of harm that are outlined below.

Physical Harm

This means hurting a person's body or stopping a person moving about.

Physical harm can be:

  • Hitting a person
  • Shaking a person
  • Locking a person up

Psychological Harm

This means hurting a person's mind.

Psychological harm can be:

  • Upsetting a person's feelings
  • Making a person feel scared
  • Leaving a person alone for too long

Financial Harm

This means stopping a person from having their money or things.

Financial Harm can be:

  • Stealing or taking money from a person
  • Not letting someone use their money
  • Not letting someone use the things they own

Sexual Harm

This means getting a person to do sexual things they don't want to do or don't understand.

Sexual harm can be:

  • Making a person have sex
  • Taking photos at private times
  • Making a person look at sex DVDs or photos
  • Getting a person to do sexual things for money or presents

Neglect and Self Neglect

This means stopping a person getting the things they need to be healthy.

Self Neglect can be:

  • a person who is unable to, or loses the motivation to, look after themselves
  • a person who isn't able to carry out the basic activities of daily living, even though they may understand the need to do them
  • a person who may not recognise unsafe living conditions, for example hoarding possessions, or allowing dirt or waste to build up over time 
  • Sometimes an adult may find themselves dependent on drugs or alcohol and lose awareness of the situation they are living in, or the consequences of decisions they make

If you or someone you know is being harmed then help is available

If you are worried about harm

  • Tell or show someone
  • Tell a health worker
  • Tell a social worker
  • Tell a police officer
  • Tell anyone you trust
  • Health workers, social workers and police can help.

Your local contacts

Over 16 but in a vulnerable situation?

There is extra help for people over 16 years old who find it difficult to stop someone harming them because they:

  • are disabled
  • are sick or have a mental health condition

People over 16 years old who might find it difficult to stop someone from harming them for one of these reasons are called "adults at risk of harm".