Social services Tell us about someone being abused or neglected

What is abuse?

Abuse is when someone hurts you or treats you badly.  It can take many forms including:

Physical abuse

This is when someone physically hurts you by: 

  • hitting
  • kicking
  • pulling hair
  • pinching
  • shaking
  • giving you too much medication so you find things difficult to do

Sexual abuse

This is when someone makes you do sexual things that make you sad, angry or frightened. Sexual abuse is being touched where you do not want to be touched, such as:

  • your private parts (penis or vagina)
  • your bum
  • your breasts

 Emotional abuse

This is when people say bad things to hurt your feelings; shout at you or threaten you. Examples include:

  • calling you names
  • laughing at you
  • blaming you for things when it’s not your fault
  • treating you like a child
  • ignoring you
  • controlling what you do
  • intimidating you

Financial or material abuse

This is when someone takes your money or belongings without asking, for example: 

  • stealing your money
  • making you pay for other people’s things
  • not letting you decide how your money is spent
  • spending any money you get to pay for care on other things, people, or for illegal purposes


This is when people who are supposed to help you don’t look after you properly, for example:

  • not giving you enough food
  • not keeping you warm and safe
  • not giving you medication
  • not taking you to the doctors if you are ill
  • not giving you clean clothes to wear

Discriminatory abuse

This is being treated unfairly because you:

  • have different colour skin
  • have a different religion
  • are disabled
  • are attracted to people of the same gender
  • speak a different language
  • are a certain age

Organisational abuse

This is when people who support you do things that are better for them, and not for you, for example:

  • offering little or no choice about the services you receive
  • restricting your freedom unnecessarily
  • making decisions on your behalf such as when you go to bed or get up


This is where a person doesn't or can't look after themselves properly, and covers a wide range of behaviour:

  • neglecting health
  • neglecting personal hygiene
  • hoarding
  • not looking after your personal surroundings

Domestic abuse

This can include psychological, physical, sexual, financial, emotional, or so-called 'honour-based' abuse.

Modern slavery

This includes human trafficking.


This is the process by which a person comes to support terrorism and forms of extremism that lead to terrorism. Adults at risk can be exploited by people who seek to involve them in terrorism or activity in support of terrorism.

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