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Protect Texas Adults from Abuse

What Is Abuse?

Abuse of older adults or adults with disabilities is the negligent or willful infliction of injury, unreasonable confinement, intimidation, or cruel punishment that causes physical or emotional harm. A vulnerable adult may be abused by a paid or unpaid caregiver, family member, or a person who has an ongoing relationship with the adult. Common types of abuse are physical abuse, sexual abuse, and emotional abuse.

  • Physical abuse can include slapping, hitting, beating, bruising, or confining an adult against his or her will.
  • Sexual abuse can include non-consensual touching, fondling, or sexual intercourse.
  • Verbal and emotional abuse can include threatening, intimidating, belittling, or harassing someone.
APS helps vulnerable adults age 65 or older.

Signs of Abuse

Abuse can take many forms. You may notice someone with unexplained injuries who suddenly becomes less social or talkative or cannot leave the house. Injuries that can't be explained, or the explanation sounds suspicious or improbable, can be a sign of abuse. You may also notice recurring injuries.

Signs of physical abuse can include:

  • Bruises, cuts, or scratches.
  • Broken bones.
  • Burns.
  • Pain when the person is touched.

A person who is being abused may be:

  • Afraid, anxious, agitated, angry, withdrawn, or depressed.
  • Unresponsive.
  • Reluctant to talk openly.
  • Confused or disoriented.

Medication and Substance Abuse

One type of abuse that may be harder to notice is the misuse of over the counter or prescription medications. Caregivers may intentionally give vulnerable adults an incorrect dose or provide unnecessary medication. Caregivers may withhold medications to inflict pain, keep someone sick, or to change their demeanor. Examples of this kind of abuse include misusing drugs to keep someone sedated, stealing pain medication, selling prescription medications, or failing to provide daily medication as prescribed.

APS strives to give their clients the best possible support to help keep them safe.

Preventing Abuse

Often abuse is obvious, but other times it may be hard to detect. For some people, knowing when to get involved can be hard. But it's important to keep your eyes open, especially with older adults or adults with disabilities. What you see and report could save the life of someone needing the care and love he or she deserves. Here are some ways you can help prevent abuse:

  • Listen to adults and their caregivers to understand their situation and provide support.
  • Learn how to recognize and report abuse and inform others how to as well.
  • Check in on adults who may have few friends or family members.
  • Report suspected abuse.

Read Betty's Story of Abuse

Act quickly if you suspect abuse and file a report by calling 1-800-252-5400.

Learn more about when to report

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