What is abuse?

Abuse is the violation of an individual’s human and civil rights by any other person or persons. Abuse of a vulnerable adult may consist of a single act or a series of repeated acts. It may occur as a result of a failure to undertake action or appropriate care tasks.

In some cases abuse is clearly deliberate and intentionally unkind. But sometimes abuse happens because somebody does not know how to act correctly - or they have not got the appropriate help and support.

Abuse can take place anywhere (for example, in a person's own home, a care home or a hospital). 

What is a vulnerable adult?

A vulnerable adult is potentially a person aged 18 years or over who may be unable to take care of themselves, or protect themselves from harm or from being exploited.

This may be because they have a mental health problem, a disability, a sensory impairment, are old and frail, or have some form of illness.

This could include people with:

  • learning disabilities;
  • mental health problems; 
  • older people; or
  • people with a physical disability or impairment

Their need for additional support to protect themselves may be increased when complicated by additional factors, such as

  • physical frailty or chronic illness;
  • sensory impairment;
  • challenging behaviour;
  • drug or alcohol problems;
  • social or emotional problems; or
  • poverty or homelessness. 

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