Adult Protective Services

Reporting Suspected Abuse — It is Mandated

The Virginia General Assembly passed legislation in 1977 that addressed both mandatory and voluntary reporting of suspected adult abuse.  Mandated reporters are required to report suspected abuse, neglect, and exploitation to Adult Protective Services (APS).

Mandated reporters include: clergy, law enforcement officers, home health aides, nurses, physical and occupational therapists, physicians, psychologists, social workers, and anyone paid to provide care to adults. Others may voluntarily report suspected cases.

The Adult Protective Services Law (S63.1-55.3D) provides that anyone, who in good faith reports suspected abuse, neglect, or exploitation is immune from criminal or civil liability.  The identity of the reporter will not be disclosed, except with the permission of the reporter or by court order.  Anonymous reports are accepted. 


How to Make a Report

If abuse, neglect, or exploitation of an adult is suspected, contact Adult Protective Services (APS) at:

  • Alexandria 703-746-5778; TTY 711

  • Arlington 703-228-1350; TTY 703-228-1788; Fax 703-228-4850

  • Fairfax 703-324-7450, TTY 703-222-9452

  • Loudoun 703-777-0353, TTY 711; Fax 703-771-5214


Indicators of Abuse, Neglect, and Exploitation

Mandated reporters must be aware of the signs and symptoms of abuse, neglect, and exploitation and realize that they can occur in a variety of settings, i.e., homes, institutions, etc.  The following indicators do not always mean abuse, neglect, and/or exploitation are occurring, but they are reasons for concern:

ABUSE The willful infliction of physical pain, injury, or mental anguish, or unreasonable confinement. Examples include:
  • Multiple severe bruises, burns, welts, cuts, or open wounds.
  • Broken bones, fractures, dislocations, or sprains.
  • Internal injuries.
  • Reports of physical assaults, such as objects thrown at victim, striking, shoving, beating, or kicking.
  • Signs of confinement (tied to furniture, locked in room).
  • Reports of verbal assaults, threats, and threats with weapons.
  • Prolonged intervals between injury and treatment.
  • Victim anxious, confused, withdrawn, or depressed.
  • Victim overmedicated or sedated.
  • Victim embarrassed or fearful.
  • Victim not allowed to speak for self or see others without caregiver present.
  • Caregiver demonstrates indifference or anger toward victim.
  • Previous history of abusive relationship.
  • Sexual abuse.

NEGLECT The lack of or insufficient care and support necessary to maintain a person's physical and/or mental health to the extent that the person's general well-being is impaired or threatened.  Examples include:
  • Untreated medical needs.
  • Prescribed medications not taken as ordered.
  • Lack of glasses, hearing aid, or prosthetic device.
  • Bed sores (decubitus ulcers).
  • Fecal/Urine smell.
  • Animal/insect infested living quarters.
  • Presence of lice, fleas, or other vermin.
  • Victim appears dehydrated or looks malnourished.
  • Victim is not clean or groomed.
  • Obvious absence of assistance offered to the victim.
  • Inadequate supervision.
  • No heat, water, or electricity.
  • No food/storage facilities.
  • Accumulated debris/fire hazards.
  • Inappropriate clothing.

EXPLOITATION — The illegal use of an incapacitated adult or his/her resources for another's profit or advantage.  Examples include:

  • Valuables are missing.
  • Victim is grossly overcharged for residence or services.
  • Victim loans large sums of money with no arrangement for repayment.
  • Unusual activity in bank accounts, such as very large withdrawals, especially from an account that has not been used in years or from a joint account shortly after it has been opened.
  • Inappropriate activity in a victim's bank account, such as withdrawals from automated banking machines when the person cannot walk or get to the bank; checks or other documents are signed when the person cannot write.
  • Power of attorney is given when the person is clearly unable to comprehend the financial consequences.
  • Promises of lifelong care in exchange for willing or deeding property/bank accounts to the caregiver.
  • The caregiver is unusually interested in or concerned about the amount of money spent on care for the victim.
  • The caregiver or relative tries to isolate the older/disabled person from family and friends, succeeding in making the elder completely dependent on him or her.
  • The caregiver is concerned solely with the person's financial situation and not his or her welfare.
  • Any indication that the victim is physically abused or neglected by a family member or caregiver.  Such abuse often occurs together with financial exploitation.

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Abuser Profile

While it is important to remember that each case is unique, there are some general observations that can be made. Persons who abuse, neglect, or exploit an older or incapacitated adult are most often family members. The abusers are likely suffering from:

  • Stress brought on by the strain of caregiving coupled with marital problems, lack of money, overcrowded living conditions, or lack of needed health or social services;
  • Alcohol and drug problems;
  • Emotional problems such as resentment of the adult's dependency, retaliation against a parent for past mistreatment, or lack of love and friendship in a relationship;
  • Being dependent on the adult for basic needs such as money or housing; and
  • The abuser may come from a family where abusive behavior is normal.




 Northern Virginia
Long-Term Care
Ombudsman Program

12011 Government Center Parkway
Suite 708

Fairfax, VA 22035 

 Intake Line: 703-324-5861
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Call TTY 711 or 703-449-1186;
Fax 703-653-1796

8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

E-mail: NVLTCOP@FairfaxCounty.Gov


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