What is Abuse?


Abuse is when someone causes us harm or distress.  


Abuse can occur in someone’s home or in a public place.


Often the people who commit abuse are taking advantage of a special relationship.  They may be a family member, friend or teacher who we expect to trust.

Anyone can be abused? It's no reflection on the victim's age, intelligence, personality, strength or worth. 


Young people are more likely to be abused or neglected as they may be seen as an easy target and may be less likely to report it. 


Abusers may make threats to prevent the person being abused from reporting it.

Remember, abuse is never acceptable and you don’t have to put up with it. There is help available. The WestKing Safeguarding Team works to keep you safe and to provide the support you need.

Types of Abuse

Physical abuse - examples

  • Assault, hitting, slapping, punching, kicking, hair-pulling, biting, pushing

  • Scalding and burning

  • Physical punishments

  • Inappropriate or unlawful use of restraint

  • Involuntary isolation or confinement

  • Withholding food

Sexual abuse - examples

  • Rape, attempted rape or sexual assault
  • Inappropriate touching anywhere
  • Non-consensual masturbation of either or both persons
  • Non-consensual penetration or attempted penetration or the vagina, anus or mouth
  • Any sexual activity that the person lacks the capacity to consent to
  • Inappropriate looking, sexual teasing or innuendo or sexual harassment
  • Sexual photography or forced use of pornography or witnessing of sexual acts
  • Indecent exposure

Emotional abuse - examples

  • Enforced social isolation – preventing someone accessing services, educational and social opportunities and seeing friends
  • Preventing someone from meeting their religious and cultural needs
  • Preventing the expression of choice and opinion
  • Failure to respect privacy
  • Intimidation, coercion, harassment, use of threats, humiliation, bullying, swearing or verbal abuse
  • Addressing a person in a patronising or infantilising way
  • Threats of harm or abandonment
  • Cyber bullying
  • Removing mobility or communication aids or intentionally leaving someone unattended when they need assistance

Neglect - examples

  • Failure to provide or allow access to food, shelter, clothing, heating, stimulation and activity, personal or medical care
  • Not taking account of individuals’ cultural, religious or ethnic needs
  • Not taking account of educational, social and recreational needs
  • Ignoring or isolating the person
  • Preventing access to glasses, hearing aids or other necessities

Discriminatory abuse - examples

  • Unequal treatment based on age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion and belief, sex or sexual orientation known as ‘protected characteristics’ under the Equality Act 2010

  • Verbal abuse, derogatory remarks or inappropriate use of language related to a protected characteristic

  • Harassment or deliberate exclusion on the grounds of a protected characteristic

  • Denying basic rights to education, employment and criminal justice relating to a protected characteristic

Financial abuse - examples

  • Theft of money or possessions
  • Fraud, scamming
  • Preventing a person from accessing their own money, benefits or assets
  • Undue pressure, duress, threat or undue influence put on the person in connection with loans, wills, property, inheritance or financial transactions
  • Misuse of benefits or direct payments to an individual
  • Someone moving into a person’s home and living rent free without agreement or under duress
  • False representation, using another person’s bank account, cards or documents
  • Exploitation of a person’s money or assets, e.g. unauthorised use of a car

Modern slavery - examples

  • Human trafficking
  • Forced labour
  • Domestic servitude
  • Sexual exploitation, such as escort work, prostitution and pornography
  • Debt bondage – being forced to work to pay off debts that realistically they never will be able to pay off