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What is abuse, neglect, exploitation and self-neglect?

Abuse, neglect, exploitation and self-neglect of a person age 60 or older or adults with disabilities age 18-59 is the least recognized form of family violence.

 *Abuse, neglect, exploitation and self-neglect takes many forms, and in most cases victims are subjected to more than one type of mistreatment. During Fiscal Year 2022, financial exploitation was reported more frequently than any other type of maltreatment at 24.23% followed by self-neglect at 22.06% and emotional abuse at 16.68%.

  • Abandonment - means the desertion or willful forsaking of an eligible adult by an individual responsible for the care and custody of that eligible adult under circumstances in which a reasonable person would continue to provide care and custody. 
  • Confinement – restraining or isolating a person for other than medical reasons. 
  • Emotional abuse – verbal assaults, threats of abuse, harassment, or intimidation so as to compel the person to engage in conduct from which she or he has a right to abstain or to refrain from conduct in which the person has a right to engage. 
  • Financial exploitation – the misuse or withholding of a person’s resources to the disadvantage of the person and/or the profit or advantage of another person. 
  • Passive neglect – the failure by a caregiver to provide a person with the necessities of life including, but not limited to, food, clothing, shelter, or medical care, because of failure to understand the person’s needs, lack of awareness of services to help meet needs, or lack of capacity to care for the person. 
  • Physical Abuse – causing the infliction of physical pain or injury to a person.
  • Self-Neglect - A condition that is the result of an eligible adult’s inability, due to physical or mental impairments, or both, or diminished capacity, to perform essential care tasks that substantially threaten their own health, including: providing essential food, clothing, shelter, and health care; and obtaining goods and services necessary to maintain physical health, mental health, emotional well-being, and general safety 
  • Sexual abuse – touching, fondling, or any other sexual activity with a person when the person is unable to understand, unwilling to consent, threatened, or physically forced. 
  • Willful deprivation – willfully denying assistance to a person who requires medication, medical care, shelter, food, therapeutic device, or other physical assistance, thereby exposing that person to the risk of harm.

The abuse, neglect, exploitation and self-neglect could be.......

  • an intentional or unintentional action by anyone;

  •  caused by economic or emotional dependence of either the victim or the abuser; and/or

  •  accepted by the family and society as a way of life.

The Abuser...

  • may be a family member (adult child, spouse, grandchild and other relative) or a non-relative caregiver;

  •  may lose control due to the stress associated with caregiving;

  •  may have an alcohol or substance abuse problem; and

  •  may be frustrated or isolated.

*Interventions must take into account, wherever possible, most persons do not to want to sever family ties.

The Victim...

  • may suffer from some form of dementia or physical impairment, often suffering from multiple disabilities which make him/her dependent on others for care;

  • tend to be isolated;

  •  may suffer from more than one type of abuse;

  •  may be reluctant to admit his/her loved one is an abuser; and

  •  may be fearful of reporting abuse, neglect, or financial exploitation thinking it could lead to further harm, long-term care facility placement, or total abandonment.

*These characteristics make intervening more complicated and cases more difficult.