The definition is wide; however this may be regarded as somone over the age of 18, who may be unable to protect themselves from abuse, harm or exploitation, which may be due to illness, age, mental illness, disability or other types of physical or mental impairment.
Those at risk may live alone, be dependent on others (e.g. living in a care home) or socially isolated.
What is abuse or mistreatment?
Abuse or mistreatment can be many things:
- Physical including hitting, slapping, punching, kicking or the misuse of medication on someone.
- Sexual including rape or sexual assault acts which the person has not consented to. It may be non contact such as teasing or being photographed.
- Psychological including threats, humiliating someone, controlling or intimidating.
- Financial including stealing or tricking the person out of money or material possessions like their house or jewellery.
- Discriminatory including racist, sexist, that based on a person’s disability and other forms of harassment.
- Neglect is also a form of abuse – leaving someone without food or heating, refusing to take care of the personal needs and failing to provide access to appropriate health and social care may all be forms of neglect.
Everyone has the right to feel safe and to live without fear of abuse, neglect or exploitation.
What should I do?
The best ways to protect a vulnerable adult from abuse is to prevent them from being abused in the first place.
- Keep watchful eye out for family, friends and neighbours who may be vulnerable.
- Understand that abuse can happen to anyone.
- Speak up if you have concerns. Trust your instincts!
- Find ways to limit the person’s isolation, if that is an issue.
- If you’re caring for someone and feel that it is getting too much, get help early.
If you do have concerns:
- Do ask what you can do to help.
- Do report what’s happening.
- Don’t ignore what’s going on.
- Don’t put the vulnerable adult in anymore danger.
- Don’t tell the person who is the alleged abuser that you are reporting what’s happening.
If someone you know is being abuse or you think that they may be, you should first make sure that they are safe, if it is possible to do so. If you are being abused you don’t have to put up with it. Tell someone you trust.
Call the numbers below and report what is happening:
Adult Social Care: 020 7641 2176
Remember if it’s an emergency, dial 999
Adult abuse happens…together we can stop it.
Worried about a child?
Cruelty to children or child abuse is behaviour that causes significant harm to a child. It also includes when someone who knowingly fails to prevent serious harm to a child.
Only a small number of child abuse cases are carried out by a stranger, it is far more likely that the abuser is someone known to the child or a family member - even someone close who you would expect to trust!
Abuse happens in all walks of life, but children growing up in a violent home or one where the parents/carers misuse drugs or alcohol are particularly at risk.
Types of cruelty
A child who is being abused may experience more than one type of cruelty. Abuse can be physical(e.g. inflicting pain), sexual (e.g. direct or indirect), or emotional (e.g. humiliating them). It can be in the form of neglect, discrimination, harassment or bullying.
What children and young people can do
- Stay safe both inside and outside the home.
- Know their full name, address and telephone number.
- Always ask a parent/carer before going off with anyone.
- You need never doing anything you don't want with an adult or child, even if you know them.
- Children should know they can tell a trusted adult about abuse or if they are concerned about another person being abused.
UK's free and confidential helpline for children and young people
How you can protect children from abuse
- You can understand the seriousness and consequences of child abuse, and recognise the signs (e.g. bruises, change in behaviour, becoming unusually dirty or hungry).
- Be someone a child can turn to. Listen and reassure them.
- Support a friend or family member struggling with parenthood.
- Every action counts. If you have concerns, there is someone who will listen.
You can contact: Children's Social Care - 020 7641 4000
Free 24hr NSPCC Child Protection line - 0808 8005000.