What is Abuse?

Everyone has the right to live in safety, free from abuse and neglect.  Abuse can take many forms and can be carried out by one or more people.  Neglect is when someone who is meant to look after another person does not look after them properly. Abuse and/or neglect is a violation of a person’s basic human rights and is unacceptable in any form and in any situation.

The Care and Support statutory guidance identifies types of abuse, but also emphasises that organisations should not limit their view of what constitutes abuse or neglect.  The specific circumstances of an individual case should always be considered.

Types of Abuse

Physical Abuse

Assault ♦ Hitting  Slapping    Pushing  ♦  Misuse of medication   Restraint  Inappropriate physical sanctions

Sexual abuse

Rape  Indecent exposure   Sexual Harassment   Inappropriate looking or touching   Sexual teasing or innuendo   Sexual photography   Subjection to pornography or witnessing sexual acts   Sexual assault   Sexual acts to which the adult has not consented or was pressured into consenting

Psychological abuse

  Emotional abuse    Threats of harm or abandonment    Deprivation of contact    Humiliation    Blaming    Controlling    Intimidation    Coercion    Harassment    Verbal Abuse    Cyber bullying    Isolation    Unreasonable and unjustified withdrawal of services or supportive networks

Financial or Material

Theft ♦ Fraud    Internet scamming    Coercion in relation to an adult’s financial affairs or arrangements, including in connection with wills, property, inheritance or financial transactions    The misuse or misappropriation of property, possessions or benefits

Domestic Abuse

Any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over, who are or have been intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality.

This can encompass, but is not limited to, the following types of abuse – Psychological, Physical, Sexual, Financial or Emotional.

Domestic Abuse includes controlling and coercive behaviour.

Modern Slavery

  • Slavery – people are dehumanised and treated as a commodity or bought and sold as “property”
  • Forced labour and domestic servitude

There are many different characteristics that distinguish slavery from other human rights violations, however, only one needs to be present for slavery to exist.  Someone can be forced into slavery through mental or physical threat.  From 1 November 2015, specified public authorities have a duty to notify the Secretary of State of any individual identified in England and Wales as a suspected victim of slavery or human trafficking, under Section 52 of the Modern Slavery Act 2015.

Human Trafficking

Is actively being used by Serious and Organised Crime Groups to make considerable amounts of money.  This problem has a global reach covering a wide number of countries.  It is run like a business with the supply of people and services to a customer, all for the purpose of making a profit.  Traffickers exploit the social, cultural or financial vulnerability of the victim and place huge financial and ethical obligations on them.  They control almost every aspect of the victim’s life, with little regard for the victim’s welfare and health.  The Organised Crime Groups will continue to be involved in the trafficking of people, whilst there is still a supply of victims, a demand for the services they provide and a lack of information and intelligence on the groups and their activities.

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)

Involves procedures that intentionally alter or injure female genital organs for non-medical reasons.  The procedure has no health benefits for girls and women.  The Female Genital Mutilation Act (2003) makes it illegal to practice FGM in the UK or to take girls who are British nationals or permanent residents of the UK abroad for FGM whether or not it is lawful in another country.

Forced Marriage

Is a term used to describe a marriage in which one or both of the parties are married without their consent or against their will.  A forced marriage differs from an arranged marriage, in which both parties consent to the assistance of a third party in identifying a spouse.  In a situation where there is concern that an adult is being forced into a marriage they do not or cannot consent to, there will be an overlap between action taken under the forced marriage provisions and the adult safeguarding process.  In this case action will be coordinated with the Police and other relevant organisations.  The Police must always be contacted in such cases as urgent action may need to be taken.

The Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 make it a criminal offence to force someone to marry.  In addition, Part 4a of the Family Law Act 1996 may be used to obtain a Forced Marriage Protection Order as a civil remedy.  Registrars and registry staff need to be supported through relevant training to know the signs of possible forced marriage.

Hate Crime

Is defined by the Police as ‘any incident that is perceived by the victim, or any other person, to be racist, homophobic, transphobic or due to a person’s religion, belief, gender identity or disability’.  It should be noted that this definition is based on the perception of the victim or anyone else and is not reliant on evidence.  In addition it includes incidents that do not constitute a criminal offence.

Honour Based violence

Will usually be a criminal offence, and referring to the Police must always be considered.  It has or may have been committed when families feel that dishonour has been brought to them.  Women are predominantly (but not exclusively) the victims and the violence is often committed with a degree of collusion from family members and/or the community.  Some of these victims will contact the Police or other organisations, however, many others are so isolated and controlled that they are unable to seek help.

Mate Crime

Is defined by the Safety Net Project as ‘when vulnerable people are befriended by member of the community who go on to exploit and take advantage of them’.  It may not be an illegal act but still has a negative effective on the individual.  Mate crime is often difficult for Police to investigate, due to its sometimes ambiguous nature, but should be reported to the Police who will make a decision about whether or not a criminal offence has been committed.  Mate Crime is carried out by someone the adult knows and often happens in private.  In recent years there has been a number of Serious Case Reviews relating to people with a learning disability who were murdered or seriously harmed by people who purported the be their friend.

Who do Adult Safeguarding duties apply to?

In the context of the legislation, specific adult safeguarding duties apply to any adult who:

  • Has care and support needs
  • Is experiencing, or is at risk of abuse or neglect
  • Is unable to protect themselves from either the risk of, or the experience of abuse or neglect, because of those needs

Where does abuse happen?

Abuse can happen anywhere, for example, in someone’s own home, in a public place, in hospital, in a care home or in college.  It can take place when an adult lives alone or with others.  It may be a single act or take place over a longer period of time.

If you are the victim of abuse, or you know someone you think is at risk of abuse or has been abused, it is important to get help!  Please see the ‘How to refer’ section for more details.

Who abuses and neglects adults?

Anyone can perpetrate abuse or neglect:

  • Spouses/Partners
  • Other family members
  • Neighbours
  • Friends
  • Acquaintances
  • Local residents
  • People who deliberately exploit adults they perceive as vulnerable to abuse
  • Paid staff or professional and volunteers
  • Strangers

How to refer

Concerned members of the public can contact Hillingdon Social Care Direct on 01895 556633 or e-mail or complete the Safeguarding Adult Alert Form.

Professional staff should always use the Safeguarding Adult Alert Form.