Physical & Behavioral Indicators of Abuse and Neglect for Persons with MRDD

Type of Abuse/Neglect

Physical Indicators

Behavioral Indicators

Physical Abuse Unexplained Bruises and Welts:

  • on face, lips, mouth
  • on torso, back, buttocks, thighs
  • in various stages of healing
  • clustered, forming regular patterns
  • reflecting shape of article used to inflict (electric cord, belt buckle)
  • on several different surface areas
  • regularly appear after absence, weekend of vacation

Unexplained Burns:

  • cigar, cigarette burns, especially on soles, palms, back or buttocks
  • immersions burns (sock-like, glove-like doughnut shaped on buttocks or genitals)
  • patterned like electric burner, iron, etc.
  • rope burns on arms, legs, neck or torso

Unexplained Fractures:

  • to skull, nose, facial structure
  • in various stages of healing
  • multiple or spiral fractures

Unexplained lacerations or Abrasions:

  • to mouth, lips, gums, eyes
  • to external genitalia
Wary of contact with a caretaker or another child

Apprehensive when other children cry

Behavioral Extremes: –aggressiveness, or –withdrawal

Frightened of caretakers

Afraid to return to unit

Reports injury by caretakers

Exhibits anxiety about normal activities

Sexual Abuse Difficulty in walking or sittingTorn, stained or bloody underclothing

Pain or itching in genitalia area

Venereal Disease

Unwilling to participate in certain physical activitiesWithdrawal, fantasy or unusually infantile behavior

Bizarre, sophisticated or unusual sexual behavior or knowledge

Poor peer relationships

Reports sexual assault by caretaker

Emotional Maltreatment A negative atmosphere where a person with MRDD is:

  • chronically ridiculed
  • chronically degraded
  • constantly criticized
  • threatened
  • ignored
  • cruelly punished or treated unfairly
Habit Disorders:
-rocking, etc.Conduct Disorders:
-destructive, etc.

Neurotic traits:
-sleep disorders

Behavior Extremes:
-complaint, passive

Overly Adaptive Behavior:
-inappropriately adult
-inappropriately infant

Developmental Lags:

Speech Disorders

Neglect Lack of adequate supervision which results in:

  • physical/sexual abuse by another adult or child
  • extended periods of time in isolation
  • self mutilation while in isolation
  • obtaining unprescribed medication
  • obtaining harmful solvents or chemical which are used to inhale/inject and get a “high”
  • failure to receive prescribed medication
  • self-inflicted injury

Lack of adequate clothing

Lack of good hygiene

Lack of needed medical or dental care

Lack of adequate nutrition

Lack of safe, warm, sanitary shelter

Refer to Physical/Sexual indicatorsProlonged absence from regular program or activities

Bizarre to lethargic behavior

Constant fatigue, listlessness or falling asleep, begging, stealing food

States there is no caretaker available when needed