You are here About the Diocese Safeguarding Diocesan Safeguarding Policy and Guidance Section 4. Abuse and Neglect of Adults

Section 4. Abuse and Neglect of Adults

All adults, including vulnerable adults, have a fundamental human right to choose how and with whom they live, even if this appears to involve a degree of risk. They should be supported to make those choices, to live as independently as possible and treated with respect and dignity. (For further information, see the Church of England’s Fact Sheet: Types of Abuse.)

Who Abuses Adults?

Potentially anyone, adult or child, can be the abuser of an adult. Abuse will sometimes be deliberate, but it may also be an unintended consequence of ignorance or lack of awareness. Alternatively, it may arise from frustration or lack of support. The list can include:

  • Relatives of the vulnerable person including husband, wife, partner, son or daughter. It will sometimes include a relative who is a main carer.
  • Neighbours.
  • Paid carers.
  • Workers in places of worship, including volunteers.
  • People who are themselves vulnerable and/or are users of a care service.
  • Confidence tricksters who prey on people in their own homes or elsewhere.

Relatives who are Main Carers

Carers can experience considerable stress, exhaustion and frustration without respite or support. This can lead to unintended poor care or abuse. Relatives who are the main carers may also be subject to abuse by those for whom they are caring. This abuse is often endured for long periods and unreported. (Further information is available from the Carers Trust.)


All people living in institutions are more likely to have a degree of vulnerability. Some members of the parish may be visiting adults in institutions – hospitals, prisons and residential homes. If, as part of these responsibilities, they have concerns about the care being given and/or the way that someone is being treated, the DSA should be contacted. You can also refer directly to the institution or raise concerns with the appropriate inspection and/or complaints body.

Definitions of Adult Abuse

A helpful summary from the UK central government document “Care and Support Statutory guidance” categorises and defines adult abuse in terms of:

Physical Abuse

Including hitting, slapping, pushing, kicking, misuse of medication, restraint or inappropriate sanctions.

Sexual Abuse

Including rape and sexual assault or sexual acts to which the vulnerable adult has not consented or could not consent or was pressurised into consenting.

Psychological Abuse

Including emotional abuse, threats of harm or abandonment, deprivation of contact, humiliation, blaming, controlling, intimidation, coercion, harassment, verbal abuse, isolation or withdrawal from services or supportive networks.

Financial or Material Abuse

Including theft, fraud, exploitation, pressure in connection with wills, property or inheritance or financial transactions, or the misuse or misappropriation of property, possessions or benefits.

Neglect or Acts of Omission

Including ignoring medical or physical care needs, failure to provide access to appropriate health, social care or educational services, the withholding of the necessities of life, such as medication, adequate nutrition and heating.

Discriminatory Abuse

Including racist, sexist, that is based on a person’s disability, and other forms of harassment, slurs or similar treatment.

Domestic Abuse

That is usually a systematic, repeated and often escalating pattern of behaviour by which the abuser seeks to control, limit and humiliate, often behind closed doors.

Organisational Abuse

Including neglect and poor care practice within an institution or specific care setting such as a hospital or care home. This may range from one off incidents to on-going ill-treatment. It can be through neglect or poor professional practice as a result of the structure, policies, processes and practices within an organisation.

Modern Slavery

Including human trafficking; forced labour and domestic servitude; traffickers and slave masters using whatever means they have at their disposal to coerce, deceive and force individuals into a life of abuse, servitude and inhumane treatment.

The Clewer Initiative raises awareness of all aspects of modern slavery.

Share this page: