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Types of abuse

Abuse comes in many forms, but all involve behaviour that is intended to cause harm to another person. Abuse is a violation of a person’s human and civil rights.

Harm may also be caused unintentionally, perhaps because of a lack of training or knowledge.

Remember that more than one form of abuse may apply in a situation – e.g. physical abuse by a person in the same household is domestic abuse; modern slavery may be financial abuse; neglect can also be organisational abuse. A person who is experiencing coercive control could also be financially, physically or emotionally abused. Abuse rarely occurs in isolation, so it is important to be able to recognise the different signs and indicators.

Abuse and harm may happen to anyone – for safeguarding adults duties to apply under the Care Act the person must have (or appear to have) care and support needs and be unable to protect themselves from the harm because of those needs.

People without care and support needs may still need assistance and intervention, even if this is not through the local authority.  Abuse and harm often involve criminal or civil offences; there are also a wide range of organisations who can offer help outside of the safeguarding adults process to those in need.

The Care Act 2014 identifies ten categories of abuse, adding modern slavery, domestic abuse and self-neglect & hoarding to the existing seven types.