• Dennis McCaslin

Domestic abuse of vulnerable adults most likely linked to another family member


It has been estimated that roughly two-thirds of those harming a vulnerable adult are family members, most often the victim’s adult child or spouse. Research has shown that in most instances the abuser is financially dependent on the vulnerable adult’s resources and have problems related to alcohol and drugs.


The word abuse covers many different ways someone may harm a vulnerable adult.


Physical abuse is intentional bodily injury. Some examples include slapping, pinching, choking, kicking, shoving, or inappropriately using drugs or physical restraints.


Sexual abuse is nonconsensual sexual contact (any unwanted sexual contact).


Examples include unwanted touching, rape, sodomy, coerced nudity, sexual explicit photographing.


Mental mistreatment or emotional abuse is deliberately causing mental or emotional pain. Examples include intimidation, coercion, ridiculing, harassment, treating an adult like a child, isolating an adult from family, friends, or regular activity, use of silence to control behavior, and yelling or swearing which results in mental distress.

Exploitation occurs when a vulnerable adult or his/her resources or income are illegally or improperly used for another person's profit or gain. Examples include illegally withdrawing money out of another person’s account, forging checks, or stealing things out of the vulnerably adult’s house.


Neglect occurs when a person, either through his/her action or inaction, deprives a vulnerable adult of the care necessary to maintain the vulnerable adult’s physical or mental health. Examples include not providing basic items such as food, water, clothing, a safe place to live, medicine, or health care.


If you know of a vulnerable adult that you suspect has been the victim of any types of the aforementioned abuses, you can can call your local authorities or the Arkansas Department of Human Services Adult Maltreatment Hotline at 1-800-482-8049.


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