Search for information, advice and guidance

Types of abuse

Being abused means a person is being treated with cruelty or violence. Abuse can vary from an incident, such a person treating someone without dignity and respect, to extreme punishment or mistreatment.

Financial or material abuse – This can include theft, fraud, internet scamming and intimidation leading to access to an adult’s financial affairs or arrangements. This can vary from access to someone’s will, property, inheritance, or misuse of property, possessions or benefits.

Physical abuse – Physical force, e.g. assault, slapping, pushing, hitting, misuse of medication, or restraint.

Neglect and acts of omission – Ignoring medical, emotional or physical care needs, failure to provide access to appropriate health care and support. It can also include refusal to give medication, acceptable nutrition and heating.

Sexual abuse – This includes rape, sexual assault, indecent exposure, inappropriate looking or touching, sexual teasing or innuendo. It may also include witnessing sexual acts, or sexual acts to which the adult has not consented.

Psychological abuse – This can include emotional abuse, threats of harm, humiliation, controlling and intimidation.  Other behaviours may be harassment, verbal abuse, isolation or not allowing someone to see others.

Organisational abuse – Neglect or poor care being delivered in a care setting, such as a hospital or care and residential home, or even care you receive in your own home. It can range from a one-off incident to ongoing poor treatment. Neglect may take place due to poor professional practice and incorrect policies within an organisation.

Discriminatory abuse – Including forms of harassment, insults or similar treatment because of race, gender and gender identity, age, disability, sexual orientation or religion.

Self-neglect – This covers a wide range of behaviour such as not taking care of personal hygiene, health or surroundings and includes behaviour such as hoarding.

Domestic abuse – This can include psychological, physical, sexual, financial or emotional abuse.

Modern slavery – Involves slavery, human trafficking and forced labour. Trafficking and slave masters use whatever means they have at their disposal to force individuals into a life of abuse and inhumane treatment.

How to report a concern

For less urgent concerns, please complete the Safeguarding Concern form. However, if you feel the person is in immediate danger, please dial 999.

You can also call the Safeguarding Adults team between 9am to 5:30pm Monday to Thursday and 9am to 5pm on Friday on 0800 137 915. Outside these hours you can call our Emergency Duty team on 0800 999 7677.

Further information

For more information about safeguarding, please see our factsheets ‘What is abuse and neglect?’ and ‘What is adult safeguarding?’ on our Factsheets page.