Recognize the signs and symptoms of abuse.

Abuse is the deliberate mistreatment of an adult that causes physical, mental or emotional harm, or damage to their property or their belongings. It can happen to anyone, at any age, in any culture, no matter what their gender, income or religion.

Physical abuse

Physical abuse is a deliberate act of violence, rough treatment or use of physical force against an adult.

Someone who is being physically abused may show signs of it, but they may not be noticed by others if the victim is hiding the abuse.

Signs and symptoms of physical abuse

  • Cuts
  • Bruises
  • Burns
  • Grip marks
  • Black eyes
  • Unusual pattern or location of injury
  • Fearfulness
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Withdrawal from regular activities and social contact

Emotional abuse

Emotional abuse can be as painful and damaging as physical abuse because it diminishes an adult’s sense of identity, dignity and self-worth.

Emotional abuse is when a person is verbally assaulted, insulted, yelled at, threatened or humiliated by someone close to them or by a caregiver.

The abuser often confines a person or isolates them by preventing them from having visits from family and friends or by denying them the chance to attend doctor or other personal care appointments.

Signs and symptoms of emotional abuse

  • Depression
  • Fear
  • Anxiety
  • Behaviour changes when a caregiver enters or leaves the room

Sexual abuse

Sexual abuse involves any sexual behaviour directed toward an adult without that adult’s knowledge or consent. Sexual abuse can happen to people of all ages, including the elderly. Sexual abuse is a way that a person tries to have control over someone and has nothing to do with consenting sex between adults.

Signs and symptoms of sexual abuse

  • Pain, itching or bruises around breasts or genital area
  • Torn, stained or bloody underclothing
  • Sexually transmitted diseases
  • Vaginal or anal bleeding
  • Depression, withdrawal from regular activities, fear, anxiety

Financial abuse

Financial abuse involves the improper, illegal or unauthorized use of an adult’s resources for the benefit of another.

Signs and symptoms of financial abuse

  • Unpaid bills
  • No money for food, clothing, or medication
  • Unexplained withdrawal of money from someone’s bank account
  • Family member or representative refuses to spend money on the adult’s behalf
  • Possessions disappear
  • Family member or another person forces an adult to sign over Power of Attorney against their own will

Neglect and self-neglect

Adults are neglected when a caregiver does not provide the essential daily living needs of an adult dependent upon them, for things such as food, clothing, shelter, bathing, medication, health care, and doctor visits.

Self-neglect happens when an adult can no longer take care of their own basic daily living needs.