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Recognising adult abuse and neglect

All organisations that work with people in Wolverhampton are committed to preventing the abuse of adults. If you suspect someone is being abused, call us on 01902 551199. If immediate action is needed phone 999. 

"Adult safeguarding" is working with adults with care and support needs to keep them safe from abuse or neglect. It is an important part of what many public services do, and a key responsibility of local authorities.

Safeguarding is aimed at people with care and support needs who may be in vulnerable circumstances and at risk of abuse or neglect. In these cases, local services must work together to spot those at risk and take steps to protect them.

What is Safeguarding? What is abuse?

Safeguarding means protecting an adult's right to live in safety, free from abuse and neglect. It is about people and organisations working together to prevent and stop both the risks and experience of abuse or neglect, while at the same time making sure that the adult's wellbeing is promoted including, where appropriate, having regard to their views, wishes, feelings and beliefs in deciding on any action.

Abuse is when someone does or says something which harms someone and makes them upset and scared. It is always unacceptable: everyone has a right to be treated with dignity and respect. No-one has the right to abuse anyone else.

Abuse can be:

  • a single one off act
  • something that happens over weeks, months or years
  • accidental or deliberate
  • taking place even if there is no sign of physical injury

Abuse can happen in lots of different ways and no single list will include all forms of abuse. However, the most recent guidance from the Government identifies the following types of abuse and neglect:

Physical abuse Assault, hitting, slapping, pushing, misuse of medication, restraint or inappropriate physical sanctions
Domestic abuse Psychological, physical, sexual, financial, emotional abuse; so called 'honour' based violence.
Sexual abuse Rape; indecent exposure; sexual harassment; inappropriate looking or touching; sexual teasing or innuendo; sexual photography; subjection to pornography or witnessing sexual acts; indecent exposure and sexual assault or 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 or unreasonable and unjustified withdrawal of services or supportive networks. 
Financial or material abuse  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.
Modern slavery   slavery, human trafficking, forced labour and domestic servitude. Traffickers and slave masters use whatever means they have at their disposal to coerce, deceive and force individuals into a life of abuse, servitude and inhumane treatment.
Organisational abuse

Neglect and poor care practice within an institution or specific care setting such as a hospital or care home, for example, or in relation to care provided in one's own home. This may range from one off incidents to on-going ill-treatment. It can be through neglect or poor professional practice as a result of the structure, policies, processes and practices within an organisation.

Discriminatory abuse

All forms of harassment, slurs or similar treatment because of: race, gender, gender identity, age, disability, sexual orientation or religion/belief. 
Neglect or acts of ommission   Includes ignoring medical, emotional or physical care needs; failure to provide access to appropriate health, care and support or educational services; the withholding of the necessities of life, such as medication, adequate nutrition and heating.
Self-neglect  Covers a wide range of behaviour; neglecting to care for one's personal hygiene, health or surroundings and includes behaviour such as hoarding.


Who abuses? Most people will not abuse BUT anyone could abuse. It might be someone you know or a stranger. It can be anyone who uses their "power" over you.

Anyone can carry out abuse or neglect, including: A friend or neighbour- Staff in a residential or nursing home or hospital -Someone else you live with - another service user

A lot of attention is often given to targeted fraud or internet scams perpetrated by complete strangers, but it is far more likely that the person responsible for abuse is known to the adult and is in a position of trust and power. Click here for Adult Self - Neglect Best Practice Guidance

Where can abuse happen? Abuse or neglect can happen anywhere and at any time, but the most common places are:

In hospital or At a day centre or social club. You could be abused by the people who work there or visit or people who are also using the centre or club.

What if the abuse is also a crime? If the abuse is also a crime - such as assault, racial harassment, rape or theft - you should involve the police to prevent someone else from being abused. If the police are involved we will work with them and with you to support you.

If you are worried about contacting the police you can always contact one of the Adult Assessment Teams on 01902 551199 to talk things over first.

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