Adult Safeguarding

The Care Act of 2014

This Care Act was the first legislation for adult safeguarding in the UK. Domestic Abuse is a category of abuse under this Act.

The Act uses the term ‘Adult at risk of neglect or abuse’ to describe people also known as vulnerable adults.

The Act defines an Adult at Risk as someone who:

  • has needs for care and support (whether or not the authority is meeting any of those needs),
  • is experiencing, or is at risk of, abuse or neglect, and
  • as a result of those needs is unable to protect himself or herself against the abuse or neglect or the risk of it.

People falling under this category could be:

  • frail due to ill health, physical disability or cognitive impairment;
  • someone with a learning disability;
  • a person with mental health needs including dementia or a personality disorder;
  • someone with a physical disability and/or a sensory impairment;
  • someone with a long-term illness/condition;
  • a person that misuses substances or alcohol;
  • a carer such as a family member /friend who may be at risk because of their caring role;
  • someone who is unable to demonstrate the capacity to make a relevant decision and is in need of care and support.

Women with a disability are twice as likely to experience domestic abuse as those without a disability. Disability can include any physical and learning disabilities as well as mental health issues, sensory impairment, age and illness.

Select each of the headings below to find out more about these types of abuse:

Personal care may be withheld if the abuser is a carer.

For example, refusing to provide assistance to use the toilet as a way of controlling the victim.

The abuser may use their status as carer to spend their partner’s money inappropriately and/or without their consent.

The abuser may tell their partner that no one else will love them or that if they leave they will have to go into a care home.

The abuser may use children as a hold over the victim, telling them that their children will be taken away if they report the abuse because the will not be able to look after them on their own.

The abuser may sexually assault or rape their partner who may not physically be able to stop them or understand what is happening to them.

Carers can also be victims of domestic abuse. This could be a long-standing situation or as a result of behaviour changes in their partner due to illness of disability. Carers may also be a vulnerable adult or adult as risk of abuse or neglect in their own right. This is a complex area but professional support is available.

Older People

Victims aged 61+ are much more likely to experience abuse from an adult family member than those 60 and under.

Older victims are more likely to remain living with the perpetrator after getting support.

Older victims are significantly more likely to have a disability – for a third, this is physical (34%).


A common barrier to accessing domestic abuse support for older people is health and mobility issues in instances where the perpetrator of the abuse is also the carer.


Women with disabilities are twice as likely to experience domestic abuse as women without disabilities.

Disabled people typically experience abuse for longer before seeking support.

Only 9% of disabled domestic abuse victims are accessing Adult Safeguarding support.


Almost a third of disabled victims live with the perpetrator – who in many cases may also be their informal carer.

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