Step up and stop abuse

Would you be able to spot adult abuse?

“The first step to preventing adult abuse is to understand what it is in the first place. The second is knowing when and where to get help,” says Buckinghamshire resident Jacky McKenna.

Jacky is a member of SAFE (Safeguarding Adults For Everyone) a small group set up by Buckinghamshire’s Safeguarding Adults Board to help raise public awareness of the sorts of abuse vulnerable people can be exposed to – and what to do if you suspect someone you know is a victim of abuse.

Her message is both passionate and simple:
“Doing nothing is not an option,” she says “if you or someone you know has care and support needs and is being mistreated then report it. By reporting abuse you can help bring it to an end.”

Adult abuse comes in many guises and is not as easy to spot as you may think. Jacky explains: “It’s not always physical – so, yes, you may expect to see unexplained injuries but it includes things like modern slavery, neglect, psychological, sexual or financial abuse, as well as failure to provide health and support services. What you might notice is someone looking unkempt when you know there is supposed to be care in place for them, a change in behaviour such as becoming withdrawn or reluctance to be left alone with a particular person.”

To help people understand what adult abuse is and how to stop it the SAFE group have used their own experience to produce an information leaflet.

Marie Seaton, Chair of the Buckinghamshire Safeguarding Adults Board, said: “The SAFE group includes a range of professionals but is led by people like Jacky who have personal experience of adults with care and support needs – either as unpaid carers or recipients of services.

“This gives them a very different perspective on the problems faced by vulnerable adults. They know what it is like, and can use their ‘lived experience’ to help others better understand things like adult abuse. The leaflet they have produced answers the questions they would ask if they were ever in the position of being a victim of abuse or needed to get help for someone.”

The ‘STOP Adult Abuse’ leaflet clearly and simply explains what to look out for and how to report it. It is part of a campaign to raise awareness of adult abuse and over the next few months it will be made available in doctors surgeries, libraries etc across the county or can be viewed on Buckinghamshire County Council’s website

Jacky concludes: “Many victims may be afraid to report abuse or not even realise they are being abused in the first place. Instead they accept it as ‘just the way things are’. More people need to be aware of what to look out for and be prepared to do something about it.

“The leaflet [Stop Adult Abuse] is a good starting point. It can be used to reassure someone you suspect might need help that they will be taken seriously and that what they are experiencing is not acceptable. It could be what makes them take that first step to safety.”

If you suspect someone you know is a victim of abuse some common signs to look out for are:

• Multiple bruising or finger marks
• Injuries the person cannot explain
• Loss or gain in weight or deterioration in health
• Inappropriate or inadequate clothing
• Withdrawal or changes in behaviour
• Unwillingness to be alone with a particular person or carer
• Unexplained shortage of money

If you have any concerns call the Safeguarding Team on 0800 137 915 – you can do this anonymously. All calls will be taken seriously and treated confidentially.