Information for adults

Abuse is mistreatment by any other person or persons that violates a person’s human and civil rights. The abuse can vary, from treating someone with disrespect in a way that significantly affects the person’s quality of life, to causing actual physical or mental suffering.

What is abuse?

Abuse can happen anywhere:

  • in a person’s own home
  • in a residential or nursing home
  • in a hospital
  • in the workplace
  • at a day centre or educational establishment
  • in supported housing
  • in the street

The person responsible for the abuse is often well known to the person being abused, and could be:

  • a paid carer in a residential establishment or from a home care service
  • a social care worker, health worker, nurse, doctor or therapist
  • a relative, friend, or neighbour
  • another resident or person using a service in a shared care setting
  • someone providing a support service
  • a person employed directly by someone in their own home as a carer or a personal assistant

Others are strangers who:

  • befriend vulnerable people with the intention of exploiting them
  • deceive people into believing they are from legitimate businesses, services or utility providers
  • intimidate vulnerable people into financial transactions they do not want or cannot understand

Our short animation called ‘Tricky Friends’ aims to help people to understand what good friendships are, when they might be harmful, and what they can do, and to raise awareness of issues like exploitation, county lines, cuckooing. It is important that people with learning disabilities and autism, and those who have cognitive difficulties, have positive opportunities to make and maintain friendships. This animation aims to reduce the risk of harm and exploitation in groups who may be less able to recognise the intentions of others.

Types of abuse

Types of abuse can include:

  • Physical – for example, hitting, slapping, burning, pushing, restraining or giving too much medication or the wrong medication.
  • Psychological – for example, shouting, swearing, frightening, blaming, ignoring or humiliating.
  • Financial – for example the illegal or unauthorised use of a person’s property, money, pension book or other valuables.
  • Sexual – for example, forcing a person to take part in sexual activity without consent.
  • Neglect or acts of omission – for example, where a person is deprived of food, heat, clothing, comfort or medication.
  • Discrimination, including slurs or similar treatment on the ground of a person race, gender and gender identity, age disability, sexual orientation or religion.
  • Domestic abuse is when someone you are in a close relationship with behaves in a way that causes you physical, mental or emotional damage and through coercive and controlling behaviour. Watch our short video animation for more information about Domestic Abuse in Older People.
  • Modern slavery includes human trafficking, forced labour and domestic slavery.
  • Organisational abuse includes neglect and poor practice within an institution, care setting or care provided in your own home.
  • Self-Neglect – an adult at risk may also neglect themselves. Watch our short video animation for more information about Self-Neglect.

Any of these forms of abuse can be deliberate, or be the result of either ignorance, or lack of training, knowledge or understanding. Often if a person is being abused in one way they are also being abused in other ways. 

How to report on-line harmful content

UK Safer Internet Centre has produced Report Harmful Content. Each report button will guide you through the reporting process and offer appropriate advice. They aim to respond to your enquiry within 72 hours. If they can’t help resolve the matter, wherever possible they will explain why it is not possible to seek mediation (for example if the matter doesn’t breach a site’s terms) and will put you in touch with people who can provide wraparound support.

Mental Capacity
Deprivation of Liberty (DOLS)