Physical Abuse

What does Physical Abuse Look Like?

Physical Abuse is the non-accidental use of physical force for coercion, or to inflict bodily harm.
Some indicators of physical abuse or mistreatment of seniors are:

  • Unexplained cuts, scrapes, bruises;
  • Injuries for which explanation does not fit evidence;
  • Avoidance of significant family, friend or paid care-giver by older person;
  • History of repeated injury/illness;
  • Symmetrical bruising and/or grip marks;
  • Delay in seeking treatment; and/or
  • Unhealed sores and/or pressure marks.

Continuum of Physical Abuse

  • Pinching/Squeezing
  • Pushing/Shoving/Restraining
  • Jerking/Shaking/Pulling
  • Shaking, causing bruising
  • Slapping/Biting/Hair pulling
  • Hitting/Punching/Kicking/Choking
  • Forced sexual activity
  • Forced feeding of undesired food and medications
  • Throwing objects at senior, or throwing senior on bed or chair, etc.
  • Lacerations that require stitches
  • Use of weapons
  • Broken bones/Internal injuries
  • Disabling or Disfiguring
  • Death

Physical Abuse Scenarios

Scenario #1

Marie arrived at the emergency department of the General Hospital. She had a broken collar-bone and cracked rib. Hospital staff assumed she had fallen, due to disorientation, or from being unsteady on her feet. Her husband, who had been abusive to her for sixty years, had pushed her down and stamped on her.

Scenario #2

The staff of a care facility where Don lives have noticed bruises on his face and body from time-to-time. They realize that these bruises appear after his wife has been visiting with him. Upon talking with other members of the family, the staff learn Don’s wife has an alcohol problem and has been extremely abusive to him during their life together. This is why Don is no longer living at home.

Scenario #3

George has rented out the upstairs of his house to a couple in return for care giving assistance as he needs it. He has promised them the house when he dies. After several years, the couple are both emotionally and physically abusive to him. George does not know what to do. His physical and emotional health is deteriorating.

Scenario #4

A woman in an apartment block is concerned for a senior who lives across the hall. She hears the adult daughter and son-in-law yelling constantly, followed by what she believes is the sound of someone falling. She is worried that the senior is being abused and sometimes sees the Senior with bruises to the face or a black eye.