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Types of abuse

If you think somebody is at immediate risk you should call Essex Police on 999

If you wish to discuss or report a concern, please visit our 'Help and support' page for a list of contact numbers and organisations who can help.

Type of abuse                     


What you may notice

Physical abuse

Assault, hitting, slapping, pushing, misuse of medication, restraint, inappropriate physical sanctions, fabricated illness.

  • Aggressive or angry outbursts / Upset / Crying
  • Bullying and intimidation
  • Flinching
  • Bruising, marks and other injuries
Sexual abuseForcing or enticing a child, young person or adult with care and support needs to take part in sexual activities, whether or not they are aware of what is happening, to meet their own sexual needs. 

This can involve looking at pornographic materials or encouraging or engaging in sexually inappropriate behaviour.

  • Use of sexual language/sexualised behaviour inappropriate to a child(s) age
    Withdrawn/mood swings/crying/aggression
  • Drug, alcohol and/or substance misuse
  • Repeated Urinary infections and/or Sexually Transmitted Infections
  • Pregnancy (where the ability to give consent may be in question)

Emotional or Psychological abuse

Threats of harm or abandonment, deprivation of contact, humiliation, blaming, controlling, intimidation, coercion, harassment, verbal abuse, cyber-bullying, or isolation.

  • Self-harm or mutilation
  • Fear of parents/partner or carer being contacted
  • Withdrawn
  • Mood swings/crying

Neglect and acts of omission

Neglect is the persistent failure to meet a person's basic physical and/or psychological needs, likely to result in the serious impairment of the health or, in the case of a child, development.

  • Inappropriate clothing worn for the season/ill-fitting or dirty clothing
  • Young children out in the street/park without adult supervision
  • Personal hygiene needs not met

Financial or Material Abuse

Theft, fraud, internet scamming, coercion in relation to an adult's financial affairs or arrangements, including in connection with wills, property, inheritance or financial transactions, or misappropriation of property, possessions or benefits.

  • Very few possessions
  • Depressed or overwhelmed
  • Underweight
  • Inappropriately dressed for the weather conditions

Discriminatory abuse

Harassment, slurs or similar treatment because of race, gender and gender identity, disability, sexual orientation or religion.

  • Hate crime
  • Not meeting a person's needs e.g. if are deaf
  • Anti-social behaviour or racist graffiti
  • Criminal damage due to race, religion or gender

Organisational abuse

Neglect and poor care practice within an institution or specific care setting, i.e. hospital or care home, or in relation to care provided in someone's own home.

  • Poor cleanliness, hygiene of both main areas and private areas of an establishment
  • Strong smell of urine
  • Routines of the establishment appear more important than wellbeing/dignity of residents


A wide range of behaviour neglecting to care for one's personal hygiene, health or surroundings - also includes hoarding.

  • Poor personal hygiene
  • Hoarding that is a fire risk and/or exits are blocked
  • Property in a state of disrepair (not safe and open to the elements)
  • Infestation of mice, cockroaches etc.
Stalking and HarassmentPersistent unwanted communications by telephone, letter, email, etc. sending or leaving unsolicited materials/gifts, graffiti, and/or messages on social networking sites or unwanted intrusions such as following, waiting for, spying on, approaching, accosting or going to a person's home.
  • Fear, denial, confusion, self-doubt
  • Depression (all symptoms related to depression)
  • Anxiety, panic attacks, agoraphobia
  • Self medicating - alcohol, drugs, other substances
  • Suicidal thoughts