Psychological abuse

Psychological abuse includes ’emotional abuse’ and takes the form of threats of harm or abandonment, deprivation of contact, humiliation, rejection, blaming, controlling, intimidation, coercion, indifference, harassment, verbal abuse (including shouting or swearing), cyber bullying, isolation or withdrawal from services or support networks.

Psychological abuse is the denial of a person’s human and civil rights including choice and opinion, privacy and dignity and being able to follow one’s own spiritual and cultural beliefs or sexual orientation.

It includes preventing the adult from using services that would otherwise support them and enhance their lives. It also includes the intentional and/or unintentional withholding of information (e.g. information not being available in different formats/languages etc.).

Possible indicators

  • Untypical ambivalence, deference, passivity, resignation;
  • Adult appears anxious or withdrawn, especially in the presence of the alleged abuser;
  • Adult exhibits low self-esteem;
  • Untypical changes in behaviour (e.g. continence problems, sleep disturbance);
  • Adult is not allowed visitors/phone calls;
  • Adult is locked in a room/in their home;
  • Adult is denied access to aids or equipment, (e.g. glasses, dentures, hearing aid, crutches, etc.);
  • Adult’s access to personal hygiene and toilet is restricted;
  • Adult’s movement is restricted by use of furniture or other equipment;
  • Bullying via social networking internet sites and persistent texting.