Safeguarding of Vulnerable Adults (SOVA) Level 2 (VTQ)

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Psychological abuse in adults

Video 26 of 47
2 min 2 sec
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Psychological Abuse: An Overview

Definition and Manifestation

Psychological abuse refers to the intentional infliction of mental or emotional harm through threats, humiliation, or other verbal or non-verbal actions. The manifestation and effects of such abuse are heavily influenced by cultural values and societal expectations.

Potential Perpetrators

Those who may inflict psychological abuse include:

  • Family members
  • Caregivers
  • Acquaintances

Physical Indicators

Some physical signs that might indicate psychological abuse are:

  • Unexplained weight fluctuations that aren't linked to other known causes.
  • Stress-related health conditions.

However, it's vital to understand that these signs alone might not definitively prove abuse. Observing patterns or multiple indicators concurrently is more indicative of a potential issue.

Behavioural Indicators

Behavioural signs of psychological abuse can include:

  • Emotional isolation enforced by the abuser.
  • Sleep disturbances.
  • Signs of depression or confusion.
  • Visibly cowering or showing distress in the abuser's presence.
  • Exhibiting agitation, withdrawal, or non-responsiveness.
  • Engaging in unusual behaviours like biting, rocking, or sucking, often associated with dementia.

Gaslighting: A Covert Form of Abuse

Gaslighting is a subtle, yet harmful form of psychological manipulation where an individual's perception of reality, memories, or sanity is made to be questioned. Victims of gaslighting often feel:

  • Anxious
  • Confused
  • Doubtful of their own judgment and memories

The Importance of Vigilance

It is paramount to assess these indicators within the context of the individual's situation. The repercussions of psychological abuse on vulnerable adults can be profound and long-lasting. Therefore, early detection and intervention are essential for safeguarding their mental and emotional well-being.