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Get Help Stay Safe Information Leaflet

Front covers of the Commissioner's Get Help Stay Safe Leaflets in English and Welsh

Recognising Abuse

Abuse can take many forms and is about an abuser (or abusers) exerting their power and control over another person.

An abuser could be an intimate partner or former partner, another family member, friend or someone else in a position of trust such as a carer.

Abuse can affect you whatever your age – it is not something that only younger people experience.

For some people, abuse may have been part of their lives for many years, while for others it will start when they reach older age. Abuse can also affect you regardless of your gender, ethnicity or sexual orientation.

Abuse can take many forms

It’s really important to understand the different forms that abuse can take.

Recognising the signs of abuse is often an important first step towards seeking help and support.

  • Physical abuse This includes punching, kicking, biting, pinching or scratching.
  • Sexual abuse This includes rape, touching someone in a sexual way against their will, making someone do something of a sexual nature which they are not comfortable with.
  • Psychological/Emotional abuse This includes being insulted, called names or sworn at, being threatened, undermined, belittled, excluded or repeatedly ignored, threats to harm others you care for, prevented from seeing others that you care for.
  • Neglect This includes ignoring medical, emotional or physical care needs; failing to provide access to appropriate care and support; or withholding necessities such as medication, nutrition and heating.
  • Financial abuse This includes stealing money or possessions; being made to give money, possessions or property against your wishes; the use of fraud to take money, possessions or property; applying pressure to alter a Will; or the abuse of a lasting power of attorney.
  • Coercive control Coercive control is an act or a pattern of acts of assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish, or frighten someone. This controlling behaviour is designed to make a person dependent by isolating them from support, exploiting them, depriving them of independence and regulating their everyday behaviour.

Recognising abusive or controlling behaviour can be difficult, particularly if you’ve lived with it for a long time. But if you’ve experienced any of the things described above, please seek advice and support. If you are concerned you are in immediate danger of harm, dial 999 and contact the police without delay.

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An older woman holding a cup of tea

“He controlled what I was allowed to do and where I was allowed to go. I became isolated from my friends and felt trapped in my home.”

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