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What is abuse?

Everyone has the right to have their human dignity respected and live their life free from abuse and neglect.

Protecting the most vulnerable in society, when they need it, could ensure a better quality of life for many people. Some adults may be particularly vulnerable to abuse and may have their human rights routinely disregarded.

Local Authorities, police, the health board, regulators and other public services work together and are committed to ensuring that Adult’s at Risk are protected from abuse and neglect, and will take immediate action where necessary, to keep adults at risk safe from harm.

Who may be an 'adult at risk'?

The definition of an 'adult at risk' is:
An 'Adult at risk' is a person aged 18 years or older who:

(a) is experiencing or is at risk of abuse or neglect
(b) has needs for care and support (whether or not the authority is meeting any of those needs), and
(c) as a result of those needs is unable to protect himself or herself against the abuse or neglect or the risk of it

Examples of an 'adult at risk' may include people with learning disabilities, mental health problems, older people and disabled people particularly when their situation is complicated by additional factors such as physical frailty, chronic illness, sensory impairment, challenging behaviour, lack of mental capacity, social and emotional problems, poverty, homelessness or substance misuse.

Abuse is defined as:

"a violation of an individual's human and civil rights by another person or persons which results in significant harm."
Abuse can happen anywhere - in a residential or nursing home, a hospital, in the workplace, a your own home, at a day centre or educational establishment, or in supported housing.

Forms of abuse include:

  • Physical abuse such as hitting, pushing, pinching, shaking, using too much medication or not allowing a person to take their medication.
  • Sexual abuse such as forcing someone into unwanted sexual activity, being touched inappropriately, rape, sexual assault, or sexual acts which you have not have consented to, or which you were pressurised into consenting to.
  • Psychological or emotional abuse such as being intimidated, threatened, verbally abused or humiliated, being blamed, controlled or harassed, being ignored on purpose or isolated from friends, family, services or support.
  • Financial abuse such as fraud or exploitation, stealing or withholding your money or spending it inappropriately, putting pressure on you to make changes to your will or misusing your property, inheritance, possessions or benefits.
  • Neglect such as ignoring your medical or physical care needs, preventing access to health, social care or educational services, not caring for you properly, not providing you with adequate food, or putting you at risk.

Any of these forms of abuse can be either deliberate or be the result of ignorance, or lack of training, knowledge or understanding. Sometimes people may be being abused in more than one way.

Who might be causing the abuse?

The person who is responsible for the abuse may be known to you and could be:

  • A paid carer
  • A health worker, social care or other worker
  • Friend or neighbour - someone in a position of trust to the 'adult at risk'
  • Another resident or service user
  • A relative – looking after an 'adult at risk' can be difficult

If you are unsure that someone may be suffering but are worried, or if you are concerned that they have suffered harm, neglect or abuse, please tell us about it straight away.

Cwm Taf Safeguarding Website

This website contains information on the range of safeguarding issues faced in Cwm Taf and, importantly, how to spot the warning signs and seek further support. 

It has bespoke sections for adults, children, parents/carers and professionals and has been designed as an inclusive site full of tips, information and guidance for people who have concerns – for themselves or someone else.

For more information please visit Cwm Taf Morganwg Safeguarding Board website

Contact Details

Merthyr Tydfil Social Services: 01685 725000
Open: 8.30am – 5.00pm (Monday to Thursday), 8.30am – 4.30pm (Friday)

Emergency Duty Team: 01443 743665
5.00pm – 8.30am (Monday to Thursday), 4.30pm – 8.30am (Friday to Monday)

If you are concerned that a crime has been committed, please ring the Police on 999 immediately.


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