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Safeguarding: Keeping people with sight loss safe from abuse

Published on 14 Nov 2023

Safeguarding means keeping everyone safe from harm, particularly vulnerable people. Sadly, people who are blind or partially sighted are at a greater risk of abuse than sighted people. 

It's everyone's responsibility to ensure that no one has to live in fear of abuse or neglect. Watch our film and read the information below about the most common types of abuse that people with sight loss might experience and what the signs are.

Who is safeguarding meant to protect?

Safeguarding protects all of us, but it's particularly important for keeping vulnerable people safe. This includes those with:

  • age-related frailty
  • learning or physical difficulties
  • long-term illness
  • mental health conditions
  • substance dependency
"We treat the safeguarding of our blind veterans extremely seriously. When one veteran recently disclosed that they were experiencing domestic abuse, we supported them so they never felt alone and their wishes were listened to."
Community Team Lead at Blind Veterans UK

The most common types of abuse

People with sight loss are at risk of experience any form of abuse, but the following four are the most common:


This generally means someone is not caring for their own personal hygiene, health, safety or surroundings, and can also include hoarding. Reasons for self-neglect are often complicated. For example, someone with a new disability, like sight loss, may not be able to maintain their personal hygiene in the same way as they could before.

Financial abuse

The unauthorised access to or improper use of funds, property or any resources of an adult at risk. This is sometimes easy to recognise, such as scams, but it can also start small with, say, a neighbour helping by doing the food shop and not returning all the change. Signs include a sudden inability to pay bills or personal possessions going missing.

Physical abuse

The non-accidental use of force that causes, or could cause, injury, pain or impairment. It's often recognisable through bruising, unexplained weight loss, frequent injuries or changed behaviour. Of course, accidents can happen, but it’s important to check that abuse or neglect hasn't been a factor, so don’t be afraid to ask the question.

Domestic abuse

Domestic abuse refers to an incident, or pattern of incidents of violence or abuse, including controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour by someone who is, or has been, an intimate partner or family member.

Other forms of abuse

Sexual violence and abuse

Any kind of sexual assault or sexual acts to which the adult has not consented or was pressured into consenting.

Emotional abuse

Psychological harm such as threats, abandonment, humiliation, blaming and coercion, including cyber bullying.

Organisational abuse

Includes neglect or poor professional practice in an organisation such as a hospital or care home, for example.


Ignoring medical, emotional or physical care needs and failing to provide access to appropriate health, care and support.

Hate crime

Includes forms of harassment or slurs because of race, gender and gender identity, age, disability, sexual orientation or religion.

Modern slavery

Includes slavery, human trafficking, forced labour and domestic servitude. 

Who to contact

If you have any concerns with regards to safeguarding or abuse, please contact your Local Authority Social Care Service.

If you are a beneficiary of Blind Veterans UK, you can also contact:

  • Your Community Support Worker at Blind Veterans UK
  • Blind Veterans UK Customer Care team on 0300 111 22 33

In case of immediate danger

Anyone who believes someone’s safety is at immediate risk of danger should take action fast. Call the police on 999.


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