1. Learn about abuse

Abuse happens when someone limits or controls another person's rights and freedoms. People cannot make choices freely because they're afraid of being hurt or left alone, or that their relationship with the abuser will end.

Who are abusers

People who abuse residents can be:

  • family members, including spouses or partners
  • other residents
  • caregivers, who are paid or not paid
  • friends or other trusted people in the resident's life
  • people who a resident relies on for financial help
  • staff or the operator of the long-term care home
  • anyone else who comes on the property

Types of abuse

Abuse can be physical, sexual, emotional, verbal, or financial. It can also be abuse if someone is neglected or not cared for properly.

Physical abuse

Physical abuse is violence or rough treatment, such as when a person:

  • hits, punches, or pushes someone, or
  • confines or restrains them.

Sexual abuse

Sexual abuse is sexual behaviour that a person does not agree to or know is happening, such as:

  • inappropriate touching
  • sexual comments
  • forced sexual contact

Emotional and verbal abuse

Emotional abuse and verbal abuse both make a person lose their sense of self. This can happen through:

  • insults, bullying, humiliation, threats, or shaming
  • controlling their activities
  • stopping contact with friends and family

Financial abuse

Financial abuse happens when someone controls or takes a person's property when they don't have the legal right to do this. For example, they might:

  • steal money or control how it's spent
  • put pressure on the person to sell their belongings, sign legal documents, or give money to relatives or caregivers
  • misuse a , for example, use the person's money for their own benefit

Read more in I’m an older adult. How do I know if I’m being financially abused?


Neglect happens when someone who agreed to provide care to another person does not look after their basic needs. This includes:

  • stopping them from getting personal care or medical care
  • leaving them in an unsafe place
  • not providing food, proper clothing, bathing, or personal hygiene
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