Signs of abuse 

Signs of abuse 

Signs that someone is affected by abuse will differ between individuals, manifesting in different ways, for example: 

Financial Abuse

The person lacking capacity may only come to realise that financial abuse has occurred when there is no money left. Where undue pressure occurs, this may show through either physical or emotional signs. 

This includes someone taking money from the vulnerable adult bank account or preventing them from spending their own money. It could be entering into contracts or services they don't really need or buying something which the vulnerable adult then pays for which has not benefit for them. For example, suddenly unable to pay their usual daily bills. Their bank balance being low when they're spending habits haven't changed. Purchasing services they can't afford. Regular withdrawals for similar amounts. 

Physical Abuse

Any form of bruising or abrasions which the person cannot easily explain, or that appear following the visit of any individual. This may show when a person shrinks back or appears fearful about physical contact, or where a person appears frightened of returning home or visiting someone. 

Are they may have a history of unexplained or bruises, small injuries or falls. When asked to visit someone the mood changes and they become quite afraid. If they have accidentally hurt themselves in a care home or daycare facility there is no record made of this and no one draws it to anyone's attention. There may be unexplained weight loss. Or the person appears drowsy or unresponsive for no apparent reason.

Sexual Abuse

Any form of sexual contact must be by consent from someone who understands that they are entitled to say no. Failure to respect another persons private space particular sexual private space may be considered a violation or an abuse. Even when someone has permitted someone else to engage in an intimate relationship with them, everyone still retains the entitlement to stop at any point. 

Sexual abuse may arise from many sources. For example, in settings where someone in a position of trust has taken a sexual advantage of a vulnerable adult. Persuading them to take part in activities which they have previously not engaged with or would not have initiated themselves. Positions of trust include care and hospital staff, training or supervising settings, someone with power or authority or a person in a position of influence. 

Potential signs of sexual abuse of at the vulnerable adult may begin to shun personal contact or want to spend more time on their own. They may begin to be over friendly and start to seek attention or gain approval. 

If you are concerned about a situation further information may be obtained from the following websites

Victim Support - information for women

Victim Support - information for men

The above website links were obtained from 

You may also wish to speak to the local social services safeguarding team. 

Emotional Abuse

Emotional or psychological abuse is where someone make threatens to harm or negatively influence someone for their own advantage. They could suggest that they will abandon them or deprive them for something which they value. The abuser may claim, or try and humiliate the person concerned. They might also be manipulating or harassing them in someway. Equally they could be preventing that person having contact with other people. 

Signs of emotional abuse include the person concerned becoming more demanding or in routine situations responds unexpectedly. They may try and harm themselves if they come into contact with certain people react quite negatively differently around them. The person concerned may become more isolated or anxious in certain settings.

Neglect or Ill-Treatment 

When an attorney or deputy starts acting on behalf of someone like in mental capacity they should be aware of signs of neglect or ill treatment. These are both criminal offences covered by section 44 of the Mental Capacity Act 2005. Equally, an offence arises with someone who is caring for a person who lacks mental capacity such as an attorney or a deputy and fails to act, potentially an offence arises. Attorneys and deputies should be aware of how the person they are managing is reacting or behaving particular where someone may have negatively affected them.

If concerns arise the attorney or deputy should be notified as well as considering notifying the local social services safeguarding team.

Signs of neglect or ill-treatment include, the vulnerable adult may begin to no longer care about what happens to them, how they look or what other people think about them. They may start to seek attention or ask for help but then when help is offered not know what they want or how they can be comforted.

Further indicators of neglect and ill-treatment can be, the person is living in poor conditions, they may have poor physical health or be malnourished, they may not be accessing appropriate services or receiving suitable medication. They may also have inconsistent or reluctant contact with social and healthcare services or deny access to themselves. 

Safeguarding and Abuse Management

Craybeck Law has a dedicated team of lawyers with specialist knowledge and experience to challenge abuse and safeguarding concerns. 

Call us on 01268 947044 for an initial consultation. 

Craybeck Law solicitors safeguarding vulnerable adults


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