How to Detect That a Person Has Been Abused: Some Types of Indicators
Abuse is not always reported and there are many reasons as to why someone might not report it for example fear the victim might be scared of what’s going to happen to them if the abuser finds out they might suffer even more or in worst cases, they might begin to treat those around them, it is rare but there are instances where the person being abused might become attached to the abuser this is called Stockholm syndrome or trauma bonding. Since most people won’t get involved it is usually up to HSC professionals to recognize any signs that show how abuse is taking place. It is hard for HSC professionals sometimes to recognize signs their cases where the victim would try to disclose information so that they get some help for example revealing cuts so that someone questions them. There are times where the victim does prefer to hide the signs of abuse for example cover it by lying or making excuses such as “I tripped”. When you become concerned for a person the signs are usually connected to a certain type of abuse some of them are:
- Physical: Multiple bruising, fractures, burn, bedsores, fear, depression, unexplained, weight loss, and assault (intentional or reckless).
- Neglect: Malnutrition, untreated medical problems, bedsores, confusion, over-sedation, and deprivation of meals may constitute “willful neglect”.
- Emotional: Fear, depression, confusion, loss of sleep, unexpected or unexplained change in behavior, deprivation of liberty.
- Sexual: Loss of sleep, unexpected/unexplained change in behavior, bruising, soreness around genitals, torn/stained/bloody underwear, preoccupation with anything sexual, sexually transmitted diseases, pregnancy, rape, indecent assault.
- Financial: Unexplained withdrawals from the bank, unusual activity in the bank accounts, unpaid bills, unexplained shortage of money, fraud, theft.
- Institutional: Inflexible and non-negotiable systems and routines, lack of consideration of dietary requirements, inappropriate ways of addressing people, lack of adequate physical care.
If I was concerned about someone and believe that they might be victims of abuse I’d try to look for signs, I would start by doing that since it would be wrong to call on abuse without having actual proof, signs such as mood, pain, and how they react when I approach them for example flinch. After noticing signs I believe that it’s best to approach someone close to them and ask whether they’ve noticed recent changes in their behavior I believe that approaching close people to the victims is better unless I’m already close to them I believe this because it is somewhat unpleasant minding someone’s business they might end up pushing you away, therefore, it is right to take precautions. It’s essential to listen to what the victim has to say especially if their mental problems believing that they aren’t capable of identifying problems might lead to them suffering abuse for longer.
Physical appearance (Injuries): it is to define traits or features about your or someone else’s body. These aspects are usually apparent when we know nothing else about the person. Untreated or covered injuries are always key when it comes to noticing abuse, the person might be trying to hide them or someone makes them noticeable so that people ask questions about them. It is not always about injuries though the victim might show other signs for example uncared/torn-out clothes, these signs show how little they are being cared for. The figure is another sign that should never be ignored if the person appears incredibly skinny it might mean that they get little to no food (malnutrition). Malnutrition occurs in many types of abuse for example Physical and neglect. While watching the WBN documentary signs of physical abuse were shown, Wayne was using his strength to his advantage at one point he pinched an old lady to the point where it left a massive bruise.
Changes in behavior can be one of the most difficult signs to notice since it can often be associated with a person having a mental illness. These behaviors usually happen when the person is feeling confused or distressed and trying to make sense of what is happening, or when they are trying to communicate that they need something. Looking at the causes of the behavior and identifying the person’s needs can help to reduce them or make them easier to help. Signs like this should never be overlooked the reason being that someone might be trying their best to communicate and due to the abuse, it becomes rather difficult leading to them becoming confused about what’s happening around them making seem often spaced out.
When it comes to mood too little sleep and/or disturbed sleeping patterns can have a significant impact on your mental wellbeing. According to the University of Nottingham 3 in 10 people in the UK report having trouble sleeping. It can make you feel irritable and stressed and can affect your concentration and productivity during the day. It is also a major cause of depression. Changes in mood are often related to sleep, there many reasons why someone might not be getting enough sleep, and abuse is one of them. If the victim is abused it is likely for them to become worried leading to them having a lack of sleep because of this their mood changes meaning that signs like mood-swings shouldn’t be taken so lightly.
Changes in how a person dresses can simply be a sign of independence they want to look more like their peers. However, if the begin to slowly look like they don’t care about their appearance this can become a sign worth addressing. People who suddenly seem no longer to care about their hygiene or general appearance could be suffering from abuse, depression, or another psychological problem. If the victim is abused it is likely for them to become less aware of themselves, therefore it is always worth taking into consideration when looking for signs of abuse.
Government figures show that in the year ending March 2014, there were 104,050 adult safeguarding referrals in England alone. Training your staff and ensuring they know who the safeguarding lead is when it comes to disclosures and dealing with adult abuse referrals is paramount when it comes to safeguarding. How you react, what you say, and how you handle the situation regarding disclosures is hugely important.
The abused person may not understand that they are being, or have been abused and might not realize the significance or severity of what they are telling you. It may be the case that the disclosure is happening many months or even years after the abuse took place, one reason for the delay in the disclosure may be the person they were afraid of has left the setting or organization and they now feel safe to tell you. Speaking out is never easy. So, if someone does confide in you, it’s important that you listen carefully to what you’re being told, you should also always be aware of your tone and body language since that might lead to the abused person becoming even more worried. You should never be judgemental or jump to any conclusion you should stay focused on the person and listen to what they have to say.
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