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Lewisham Safeguarding Adults Board

Perpetrators of Abuse

The person alleged to have caused harm

Abuse can occur anywhere and be perpetrated by anyone. Adults at risk are sometimes abused by strangers, but more often, they are abused by someone known to them or in a position of trust. This may include:

  • A partner, relative, friend or child
  • A neighbour or someone from the community network
  • A paid carer or volunteer
  • A health, social care worker or other professional
  • Another vulnerable adult
  • A non-carer or stranger

Abuse can occur in any relationship. It often occurs where the person who is abusing is in a more powerful position than the person who is being abused.

Abuse occurs when the abuser misuses such power either intentionally, or unintentionally or for their own benefit or gain.

The person who is abusing may have more power because they are more able than the person they are abusing.

They may also have more power because the adult at risk may be dependent on them in some way.

In some instances the abuser themselves may also be an adult at risk, for example another service user, or an adult with learning disabilities caring for a frail older parent.

In any formal caring situation, the person providing the care is held in a position of trust.

There can often be a power imbalance between a member of staff, paid carer or a volunteer and an adult at risk.

It must be noted that some abusers deliberately seek out adults who appear to be vulnerable, with the intention of abusing, harming, exploiting or manipulating that person.

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