Types and signs of abuse
Being abused means a person is being treated with cruelty or violence. Abuse can vary from an incident, such a person treating someone without dignity and respect, to extreme punishment or mistreatment.
The signs of abuse aren't always obvious, and an adult might not feel able to tell anyone what's happening to them. Sometimes, adults don't even realise that what's happening to them is abuse.
There are different types of abuse and the signs that an adult is being abused may depend on the type. For example, the signs that an adult is being neglected may be different from the signs that an adult is being physically abused. Below are examples of signs that may indicate that an adult is being subjected to abuse.
How to report the abuse of an adult
You can report the abuse of an adult to Buckinghamshire Council. We call this a safeguarding concern.
If you would like to submit a safeguarding concern, you can do this using our online service. You will need to create an account, which is quick and easy.
If you would like to submit a safeguarding concern without making an account you can use our online form.
Types of abuse
Physical force, e.g. assault, slapping, pushing, hitting, misuse of medication, or restraint.
This includes rape, sexual assault, indecent exposure, inappropriate looking or touching, sexual teasing or innuendo. It may also include witnessing sexual acts, or sexual acts to which the adult has not consented.
Domestic violence or abuse
This can include psychological, physical, sexual, financial or emotional abuse.
Neglect and acts of omission
Ignoring medical, emotional or physical care needs, failure to provide access to appropriate health care and support. It can also include refusal to give medication, acceptable nutrition and heating.
This covers a wide range of behaviour such as not taking care of personal hygiene, health or surroundings and includes behaviour such as hoarding.
Financial or material abuse
This can include theft, fraud, internet scamming and intimidation leading to access to an adult’s financial affairs or arrangements. This can vary from access to someone’s will, property, inheritance, or misuse of property, possessions or benefits.
This can include emotional abuse, threats of harm, humiliation, controlling and intimidation. Other behaviours may be harassment, verbal abuse, isolation or not allowing someone to see others.
Including forms of harassment, insults or similar treatment because of race, gender and gender identity, age, disability, sexual orientation or religion.
Neglect or poor care being delivered in a care setting, such as a hospital or care and residential home, or even care you receive in your own home. It can range from a one-off incident to ongoing poor treatment. Neglect may take place due to poor professional practice and incorrect policies within an organisation.
Similar to discriminatory abuse, a hate crime (or hate incident) is recognised by the law as mistreatment motivated by hostility or prejudice based on one of the five protected characteristics:
- transgender identity
- sexual orientation
Involves slavery, human trafficking and forced labour. Trafficking and slave masters use whatever means they have at their disposal to force individuals into a life of abuse and inhumane treatment.
For more information about safeguarding, please see our factsheets ‘What is abuse and neglect?’ and ‘What is adult safeguarding?’ on our Factsheets page.