Speak out against adult harm

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Adult harm isn’t always easy to identify, but it’s crucial that people with concerns speak out if they think someone is being mistreated, neglected or exploited.

The Scottish Government’s “Seen Something? Say Something” campaign aims to highlight some of the forms adult harm can take in a bid to help people spot the signs and situations that could mean a person is at risk.

Adult harm doesn’t have to be physical. Verbal threats or ridicule can cause psychological harm. Failing to dress, wash or eat properly can be signs of neglect and becoming tearful when their relationship is mentioned could suggest sexual harm.

Financial harm, particularly to elderly or vulnerable adults, is a real problem and one which must be stopped.

When an 80-year-old Edinburgh widow asked her neighbour to drive her to the bank to withdraw money to pay for gardening work, he became suspicious that something was not right. He knew that she employed her own gardener so was surprised to hear she owed money to someone else.

She explained that two men in a white van had approached her in the street saying they were on the way to her house to cut her trees. Although she was confused by this, she agreed to them cutting the tops of her trees. After completing the work the men asked her to pay £3,000 which she had written a cheque for.

When the workmen later returned to her home, they explained that the cheque had bounced and she offered to go to the bank and withdraw the funds for them.

Her neighbour realised this didn’t feel right and called the police to report the incident.

Police and trading standards officers made inquiries in the neighbourhood only to discover that a number of residents had been approached in a similar manner.

If you think an adult is at risk of harm and may need help, call your local social work department for advice – Midlothian Social Work Department 0131 270 7500. For more information visit actagainstharm.org

What are the warning signs?

Adult harm can take many forms:

Physical: cuts or bruises that can’t be properly explained, hiding injuries, or refusing to talk about them, appearing fearful or withdrawn.

Psychological: being verbally bullied, ridiculed, and threatened with violence. It can also include people taking advantage or someone who is unable to stick up for themself.

Neglect: failing to dress, wash or eat properly, becoming socially isolated or leaving people who need help unattended and uncared for.

Financial: giving money to a stranger or someone they know for reasons that concern you, being unclear or confused about where their money has gone or being stressed about money issues or debt.

Sexual: being sexually harassed or intimidated, appearing nervous or withdrawn and becoming tearful or upset when their relationship is mentioned.