What is abuse, neglect, or financial exploitation?

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Abuse, neglect, or financial exploitation of a person age 60 or older or adults with disabilities age 18-59 is the least recognized form of family violence.
*Abuse, neglect, and financial exploitation takes many forms, and in most cases victims are subjected to more than one type of mistreatment. In Illinois during FY 2017, 52% of adult abuse reports allege financial exploitation; approximately 23% allege physical abuse; 40% allege active or passive neglect; and 40% allege emotional abuse.
  • Physical Abuse – causing the infliction of physical pain or injury to a person.

  • Sexual abuse – touching, fondling, or any other sexual activity with a person when the person is unable to understand, unwilling to consent, threatened, or physically forced.

  • Emotional abuse – verbal assaults, threats of abuse, harassment, or intimidation so as to compel the person to engage in conduct from which she or he has a right to abstain or to refrain from conduct in which the person has a right to engage.

  • Confinement – restraining or isolating a person for other than medical reasons.

  • Passive neglect – the failure by a caregiver to provide a person with the necessities of life including, but not limited to, food, clothing, shelter, or medical care, because of failure to understand the person’s needs, lack of awareness of services to help meet needs, or lack of capacity to care for the person.

  • Willful deprivation – willfully denying assistance to a person who requires medication, medical care, shelter, food, therapeutic device, or other physical assistance, thereby exposing that person to the risk of harm.

  • Financial exploitation – the misuse or withholding of a person’s resources to the disadvantage of the person and/or the profit or advantage of another person.


The Abuse, Neglect, or   Financial Exploitation.....     

could be...
  • an intentional or unintentional action by anyone;
  •  caused by economic or emotional dependence of either the victim or the abuser; and/or
  •  accepted by the family and society as a way of life.
Abuse can also be in the form of fraud. See the page, Looking Out for Fraud for more information.

The Abuser...  

  • may be a family member (adult child, spouse, grandchild and other relative) or a non-relative caregiver;
  •  may lose control due to the stress associated with caregiving;
  •  may have an alcohol or substance abuse problem; and
  •  may be frustrated or isolated.

Interventions must take into account, wherever possible, most persons do not to want to sever family ties.

The Victim...  

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  • may suffer from some form of dementia or physical impairment, often suffering from multiple disabilities which make him/her dependent on others for care;
  • tend to be isolated;
  •  may suffer from more than one type of abuse;
  •  may be reluctant to admit his/her loved one is an abuser; and
  •  may be fearful of reporting abuse, neglect, or financial exploitation thinking it could lead to further harm, long-term care facility placement, or total abandonment.
These characteristics make intervening more complicated and cases more difficult.