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Sheffield Adult Safeguarding Partnership

Types Of Abuse and Easy Read


Types of Abuse

This page explains some of the types of abuse and possible indicators. The examples on this page are not exhaustive and the types of abuse and the possible indicators mentioned could also present themselves in other ways. For further information on types of abuse you can also take a look at the following resources.

SCIE - Types of Abuse and Indicators

NHS - Abuse and Neglect in Adults at Risk

Easy Read Version

We also have an  Easy Read Guide on "what is abuse and how do I tell someone?" which also includes the types of abuse.

Physical Abuse 

Intentionally causing bodily injury to another person. Although not an exhaustive list, this may include; assault, hitting, slapping, punching, kicking, hair-pulling, biting, pushing as well as other acts such as inappropriate or unlawful use of restraint, forcible feeding or withholding food, restricting movement, making someone purposefully uncomfortable (e.g. opening a window and removing blankets).

Possible indicators

  • Unexplained injuries.
  • Frequent injury and/or injuries inconsistent with the person’s lifestyle or account of what happened.
  • Visible marks on the body e.g. bruises, cuts, burns 
  • Subdued or changed behaviour in the presence of a particular person.
  • Signs of malnutrition.

Psychological Abuse

Behaviour that involves attempting to generate fear into another person, humiliating them, controlling them and/or isolating them. Amongst other behaviours, it may include behaviour such as intimidation, coercion, harassment, use of threats, humiliation, bullying, swearing or verbal abuse, enforced isolation and preventing expression of choice.

Possible indicators

  • Quiet or changed behaviour in the presence of a particular person 
  • Withdrawal or change in the psychological state including signs of distress: tearfulness, anger and/or low self-esteem.
  • Insomnia.
  • Uncooperative and aggressive behaviour.
  • A change of appetite, weight loss/gain.

Sexual Abuse

This type of abuse relates to sexual behavior or acts forced upon a person without their consent. This could include (as well as attempted) rape, sexual assault, inappropriate touching, any sexual activity that the person lacks the capacity to consent to, indecent exposure, as well as other behaviours. It may also include sexual relationships between adults where one is in a position of trust, power or authority in relation to the other.

Possible indicators

  • Bruising on the body, particularly in areas such as thighs, buttocks and upper arms and neck.
  • Torn, stained or bloody underclothing.
  • Trauma to the genital area. Infections or sexually transmitted diseases.
  • Pregnancy when unable to consent
  • Significant changes in sexual behaviour, attitude or use of explicit language.
  • Poor concentration, withdrawal, sleep disturbance.
  • Fear/apprehension of, or withdrawal from, relationships. 
  • Fear of receiving help with personal care.

Financial/Economic Abuse

This may include having money or material belongings stolen, being a victim of fraud, or being pressured or coerced in relation to money or belongings and having these misused by another person, being prevented from accessing own money or assets, exploitation of a person’s money or assets, e.g. using a persons car without authorisation.

Possible indicators

  • Missing possessions
  • Unexplained lack of money or unexplained withdrawal from accounts
  • Power of attorney or lasting power of attorney (LPA) being obtained after the person lacks the capacity to make the decision or failure to register an LPA 
  • The person nominated to manage financial affairs is uncooperative
  • Failure to provide receipts for shopping or other financial transactions carried out on behalf of the person
  • Inconsistencies between living conditions and financial resources

Organisational Abuse

This is when poor practices within a setting providing health or social care such as a care home, hospital or care agency, leads to harm to a person. This could be in relation to ongoing maltreatment or one off incidents. 

Possible indicators

  • Preventing the involvement of or visits from family and/or friends
  • Lack of leadership and supervision
  • Unsafe staffing levels
  • Abuse and disrespect or ignoring abusive behaviour/inadequate response
  • Inappropriate use of restraints
  • Lack of respect for dignity and privacy
  • Not providing adequate food and drink, or assistance with eating
  • Not offering choice, promoting independence or person centred care
  • Misuse of medication
  • Ignoring different cultural or religious needs


Neglect relates to a persistent failure to meet the needs of an individual who is being cared for. This may include their physical and/or emotional needs. It may also include witholding things necessary for life such as medication, food, suitable accomodation amongst other things.

Possible indicators

  • Lack person centred care and choice for people using the service
  • Inadequate staffing levels leading and poor standards of care
  • Not allowing an individual their personal items
  • Inadequate record-keeping 
  • Person recieving no visitors
  • No or few activities
  • Lack of confidentiality 
  • Not maintaining dignity and privacy during bathing or using the toilet


This is when an individual is unwilling to, or unable to, meet their own essential needs. Self Neglect may present itself in a number of different ways from neglecting personal hygiene to hoarding.

Possible indicators

  • Unhygenic or poor cluttered environment
  • Poor physical health and may have pressure sores or ulcers
  • Change of appetite and weight loss/gain
  • Injury and/or medical conditions untreated
  • Inconsistent or reluctant contact with medical and social care organisations

Hate Crime

Abuse stemmed from bias and prejudice around protected characteristics e.g. age, race, religion, gender or gender identity, disability as well as other differences. 

Possible indicators

  • The support on offer does not take account of the person’s individual needs.
  • Withdrawal or change in the psychological state including signs of distress and anxiety.
  • Tearfulness, anger and/or low self-esteem.

Modern Slavery

Modern Slavery relates to incidents where an individual is exploited and their human rights violated. This may include but is not limited to sexual exploitation and criminal exploitation.

Possible indicators

  • Signs of other types of abuse such as physical, emotional and sexual abuse.
  • Isolation from community, family and friends and/or under the control of another person or group.
  • Poor living conditions
  • Lack of personal identification and documentation
  • Avoidance of others e.g. no eye contact, minimal interaction 
  • Fear of police and other law enforcement workers.

Domestic Abuse

Domestic abuse may include any of the types of abuse above that happen within a range of relationships not only between couples but also other familial relationships and between ex partners. It often also includes coercion and control whereby an individual is undermined, threatened, humiliated and their liberty or freedom restricted or removed. Also encompassed within the category of Domestic abuse is so called 'honour’ -based violence, female genital mutilation and forced marriage.

Possible indicators

  • Low self-esteem
  • Self blaming
  • Physical injury
  • Humiliation in front of others
  • Fearing what would happen and the consequences if outside agencies intervened
  • Isolation – not seeing friends and family
  • Restricted access to funds and personal property

Read more about domestic abuse on our dedicated domestic abuse information page including 7 minute briefings on coercive control and domestic abuse. More information on domestic and sexual abuse services in Sheffield can also be found at https://sheffielddact.org.uk/