WarningCall 999 if you, or someone else, is being abused, or is in immediate danger.

Abuse or harm is when someone does or says things to make you upset or frightened. You may be too scared to speak out or to stop them. You may be abused or harmed on purpose, or by someone who may not realise that what they are doing to you is wrong. Abuse or harm can happen when someone has power over you, and you do not agree to what is happening.

It is important if you or someone you know is being abused, that you tell someone so that they can help. People who are there to help you include:

  • your family.
  • staff who support you.
  • the police.
  • a social worker.
  • a doctor.
  • a nurse.
  • a friend.

You can also report a concern about an adult to the council.

Who abuses adults?

Anyone can abuse you. It could be someone you know or a stranger. It could be a relative, friend, neighbour, paid carer or volunteer.

Where does abuse happen?

Abuse can happen anywhere. It could be in:

  • your own home.
  • a care home.
  • hospital.
  • a public place.
  • at work.
  • at college.
  • at a club.

Who does abuse happen to?

Any adult can be abused but it happens more often to people who depend on others to support them. This includes people who:

  • are older and frail
  • have a physical disability
  • have learning difficulties
  • have a sight, hearing or communication impairment
  • have mental health problems
  • have dementia
  • have a drug or alcohol problem.

What types of abuse are there?

There are many types of abuse. Expand the sections below to read more about each.

Physical abuse

This is when someone physically hurts you. Examples of physical abuse include:

  • Hitting.
  • Kicking.
  • Pulling hair.
  • Shaking.
  • Throwing things at you.

Sexual abuse

This is when someone does things to you (including rape or sexual assault) or makes you do sexual things. It includes making you watch films or photographs of sexual things. These things can make you sad, angry or frightened.

Sexual abuse is when someone touches your body or your private parts in a way you do not like or want. Sexual abuse is also being made to touch someone else when you do not want to.

Some examples of sexual abuse are:

  • someone touching your private parts when you do not want them to.
  • someone touching your bottom when you do not want them to.
  • someone touching your breasts when you do not want them to.
  • someone touching your penis when you do not want them to.
  • someone touching your vagina when you do not want them to.
  • being made to touch other people in these places.

Emotional abuse

This is when people talk to you in unkind ways. Emotional abuse can be when people say bad things to hurt your feelings, shout at you or threaten you.

Some examples of emotional abuse are:

  • Calling you horrible names.
  • Blaming you for things when it’s not your fault.
  • Treating you like a child.
  • Ignoring you.

Financial abuse

This is when someone takes your money or things that belong to you without asking. It can also be when someone controls your money or things that belong to you without asking.

You may have a legal guardian or someone has the power of attorney for you. This is someone who would help you look after your money and things that belong to you.

If you have help to look after your money someone should always go to these people if they are supposed to.

Some examples of financial abuse are:

  • Someone stealing your money.
  • Someone making you pay for other people’s things.
  • When you don’t have a say in how your money is spent.

Neglect and acts of omission

Neglect is when people who are supposed to look after you don’t look after you properly.

Some examples of neglect are:

  • Being hungry.
  • Being cold a lot of the time.
  • Having only dirty clothes to wear.
  • Being put in danger.

Discriminatory abuse

This is when people say or do bad things to you. It can also be when people treat you unfairly or differently.

Examples of discriminatory abuse are someone being treated differently because:

  • of the colour of their skin.
  • they are disabled.
  • of their religion.
  • they are lesbian or gay.
  • they speak a different language.

Domestic violence and abuse

Domestic violence and abuse is when your current or previous partner or a member of your family hurt you or try and control what you do. Some examples of domestic abuse are:

  • forcing you to have sex.
  • being forced to marry someone when you do not want to.
  • being held against your will or taken somewhere you don’t want to be.
  • physical violence against you.

Modern slavery

Modern slavery is being forced to work illegally against your will. Some examples of modern slavery are:

  • being forced to work in prostitution or pornography.
  • carrying out housework or domestic chores with little or no pay.

Organisational abuse

Organisational abuse happens in care homes, hospitals and can even happen in your own home. It can happen once or all the time. Some examples of organisational abuse are:

  • care staff calling you names or hitting you.
  • care staff not helping you with washing and dressing.
  • being left alone in your room all day and care staff ignoring you.

Self neglect

Self neglect is when you do not look after yourself properly. Some examples of self neglect

  • wearing dirty clothes all the time.
  • not washing or looking after yourself properly.
  • missing doctors appointments.

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