Physical abuse

Physical abuse includes assault, hitting, slapping, pushing, kicking, misuse of medication, being locked in a room, inappropriate sanctions or force-feeding, inappropriate methods of restraint, and unlawfully depriving a person of their liberty.

Possible indicators

  • Unexplained or inappropriately explained injuries;
  • Adult exhibiting untypical self-harm;
  • Unexplained cuts or scratches to mouth, lips, gums, eyes or external genitalia;
  • Unexplained bruising to the face, torso, arms, back, buttocks, thighs, in various stages of healing. Collections of bruises that form regular patterns which correspond to the shape of an object or which appear on several areas of the body;
  • Unexplained burns on unlikely areas of the body (e.g. soles of the feet, palms of the hands, back), immersion burns (from scalding in hot water/liquid), rope burns, burns from an electrical appliance;
  • Unexplained or inappropriately explained fractures at various stages of healing to any part of the body;
  • Medical problems that go unattended;
  • Sudden and unexplained urinary and/or faecal incontinence. Evidence of over/under-medication;
  • Adult flinches at physical contact;
  • Adult appears frightened or subdued in the presence of particular people;
  • Adult asks not to be hurt;
  • Adult may repeat what the person causing harm has said (e.g. ‘Shut up or I’ll hit you’);
  • Reluctance to undress or uncover parts of the body;
  • Person wears clothes that cover all parts of their body or specific parts of their body;
  • An adult with capacity not being allowed to go out of a care home when they ask to;
  • An adult without capacity not being allowed to be discharged at the request of an unpaid carer/family member.