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What is abuse and who is at risk?

What is abuse?
Abuse is behaviour that either deliberately or unknowingly causes harm or endangers life or infringes on rights.
The abuse can vary, from treating someone with disrespect in a way that significantly affects the person’s quality of life, to causing actual physical or mental suffering.
 It can happen to anyone, anywhere, any time.
 It is can be carried out by many different people, but more often, it’s someone known and trusted by the victim.
Who is at risk?
Everyone is at risk of abuse, both adults and children.
Some adults may be unable to take care of themselves, or protect themselves from harm or from being exploited for different reasons:
  • They are elderly or frail;
  • They have physical disabilities;
  • They have dementia and may be confused or forgetful;
  • They are not able to stop someone else from hurting them or taking advantage of them;
  • They have mental health problems or learning difficulties;
  • They have sight or hearing loss;
  • They have some form of illness;
  • They depend on someone else to look after them.
Supporting You Safeguarding Toolkit What is abuse and who is at risk?