Adult abuse - What is it?
This video in British Sign Language provides information about
adult abuse and what you can do if you are worried that a vunerable
adult may be at risk.
Select the play button to start watching this video. To stop the
video at any point please select the pause button.
If you experience any issues with this video please contact
This leaflet is about Adult Abuse and what you can do if you are
worried that a vulnerable adult(s) may be at risk.
If you have concerns that a vulnerable adult is being abused you
may contact your local Social Service’s office and ask to speak to
the duty officer.
They will answer your questions and explain the referral
Protecting vulnerable adults from abuse such as harm and
exploitation is the aim of Kent and Medway’s Adult Protection
Policy and Protocols. It is the right of every adult to live in a
safe environment free from abuse.
Who is a vulnerable adult?
An adult (any person aged 18 or over) who:
• Is or may be in need of community care services and,
• is or may be unable to protect themselves from harm.
What do we mean by abuse?
Abuse is a breach of an individual’s rights, which may be a
single act or happen repeatedly over time.
This abuse may be deliberate but it may also happen as a result
of poor care practices or ignorance.
The vulnerable adult may be neglected, persuaded to agree to
something against their will or taken advantage of because they do
not fully understand the consequences of their choices or
Abuse can take many forms and may include:
- Physical Abuse
Hitting, slapping, pushing, rough handling, misusing medication,
and deprivation of food, clothing, warmth and appropriate health
- Sexual abuse
Any kind of sexual activity where a vulnerable adult has not or is
unable to give consent or has been pressured into.
- Financial Abuse
Misuse or theft of money, possessions, property or other goods;
exploitation or pressure in connection with wills or
- Psychological Abuse
Shouting, threatening punishment, swearing, using degrading
language – most types of abuse also result in emotional
Ignoring medical or physical care needs intentionally or
unintentionally by failing to understand and meet the care needs of
the vulnerable adult.
- Discriminatory Abuse
Discrimination by disability, sex, age, colour, language, culture,
religion or politics, harassment.
Who can abuse?
Anyone may abuse but it is usually someone known to the
Where does it happen?
Abuse can happen anywhere. It may happen at home, in a
residential or nursing home, hospital, day centre or in a public
place. Abuse may also constitute a criminal offence.
What actions should you take if a vulnerable adult tells you
that they are being abused or are frightened about being
- Stay calm and listen to them,
- Take what you are being told seriously,
- Be aware that medical evidence might be needed,
- Offer them support to help them to stop the abuse
- make a written note of what you have been told and
- contact social services or the police.
- Press the person for more details (these will be taken at a
- Do not assume that someone else is aware of the situation and
will take action.
- Do not contact the alleged abuser.
- Do not promise to keep the disclosure secret.
- Do not be afraid to contact social services or the police to
discuss the disclosure.
What should you do if you suspect or have witnessed a
vulnerable adult being abused?
You should contact the local social services office and ask to
speak to the duty officer in Adult Social Services
on 03000 41 61 61 for Kent and 01634 306000 for
If you wish to discuss your concerns outside normal office hours
you may contact the out of Hours team on 03000 41 91 91.
If you think that they may be at immediate risk of harm then you
should contact the police by calling 999.