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Vulnerable Adult Abuse

Vulnerable adult abuse is any action or inaction by a person or caregiver in a position of trust or control that puts the safety, health or well-being of a vulnerable adult at risk.

Forms of Vulnerable Adult Abuse

Vulnerable adult abuse occurs when the vulnerable adult experiences:

  • Physical violence
  • Emotional and psychological abuse
  • Sexual violence
  • Conduct or behaviour that controls or dominates the vulnerable adult and causes the vulnerable adult to fear for his/her safety or well-being
  • Conduct or behaviour that unreasonably deprives, or threatens to unreasonably deprive, the vulnerable adult of freedom of movement or well-being

Who Can be a Victim of Vulnerable Adult Abuse

The Vulnerable Adults Act (VAA) defines a vulnerable adult as any individual who meets all of the following criteria:

  • Is 18 years of age or older, and
  • Has a mental or physical infirmity, disability or incapacity and, because of it,
  • Is unable to protect themselves from abuse, neglect or self-neglect.

Effects of Vulnerable Adult Abuse

Vulnerable adult abuse can result in serious and permanent physical and psychological damage, and even death.

Other impacts of vulnerable adult abuse may include:

  • Problems sleeping
  • Lack of appetite
  • Social withdrawal
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Low self-esteem
  • Lack of trust in others
  • Feelings of abandonment
  • Anger
  • Worsening mental and physical health
  • Drug and/or alcohol abuse as a way of coping
  • Embarrassment

Break The Silence

I want to report domestic violence

I am experiencing abuse

I witnessed abuse

Contact the National Anti-Violence and Sexual Harassment Helpline (NAVH) or the police

Seek help from a Family Service Centre, Protection Specialist Centre, Family Justice Courts, medical professional or temporary shelter

Find out how to support someone who is abused or safely interrupt the abuse