Physical abuse

Physical abuse is any intentional act or behaviour causing injury, trauma or other physical suffering or bodily harm.

Physical abuse

Physical abuse is any intentional act or behaviour causing injury, trauma or other physical suffering or bodily harm. This includes instances of fabricated or induced illness or causing someone person to become unwell.

There are many behaviours that indicate physical abuse. These can range from slapping and hitting, inappropriate use of restraint, forcible feeding, scalding and burning, through to the prescription or administration of medication not licensed for the purpose used. The visible signs of physical abuse are often evident and therefore easier to spot, but they can also be hidden by the perpetrator or the victim.

There can be a perception that residential homes are the only place where older people are physically abused. Most physical abuse incidents occur in the victim’s own home  and is perpetrated by intimate partners and other family members. If it takes place in the home, this also typically happens alongside domestic abuse. 

If it’s happening to you, a loved one or someone you know help is on hand to take positive steps.

Visit Hourglass for further help and support

Spotting the signs of physical abuse

  • Visible signs including cuts and lacerations, puncture wounds and open wounds, bruises, welts, discolouration, black eyes, burns, bone fractures, broken bones and skull fractures

  • Untreated injuries in various stages of either healing or they’re not properly treated

  • Poor skin condition or poor skin hygiene

  • Dehydration or malnourishment without illness-related causes

  • Loss of weight

  • Clothing or bedding is soiled

  • Broken eyeglasses, physical signs of being subjected to punishment, or signs of being restrained

  • Inappropriate use of medication which can include overdosing or under-dosing

  • You’re told an older person has been hit, slapped, kicked, or mistreated.

Taking steps to stop abuse

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Spotting the signs of abuse

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Other types of abuse

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