Abuse is when someone does or says things to another person to hurt, upset or make them frightened.

Adult abuse is wrong and can happen to anyone who is over 18 years of age.

Who is an adult at risk of abuse or neglect

Under the Care Act 2014, the safeguarding adults procedures apply to anyone aged 18 or over who:

  • has needs for care and support
  • is experiencing or is at risk of abuse or neglect, and
  • as a result of their need for care and support is unable to protect himself or herself against the abuse or neglect or the risk of it.

An adult with care and support needs may be:

  • an older person
  • a person with a physical disability, a learning difficulty or a sensory impairment
  • someone with mental health needs, including dementia or a personality disorder
  • a person with a long-term health condition
  • someone who misuses substances or alcohol to the extent that it affects their ability to manage day-to-day living.

What is abuse?

Abuse can be:

  • something that happens once
  • something that happens repeatedly
  • a deliberate act
  • something that was unintentional, perhaps due to a lack of understanding
  • a crime

Who commits abuse?

Abuse can happen anywhere, at any time and be caused by anyone inluding:-

  • a partner or relative
  • a friend or neighbour
  • a paid or volunteer carer
  • other service users
  • someone in a position of trust
  • a stranger

Different forms of abuse and neglect

The following descriptions of types of abuse and neglect can help decide whether someone is at risk:

Also advice on how to keep yourself physically, sexually, financially and emotionally safe.

Physical abuse

Physical abuse is causing physical pain, injury or suffering to someone else.

Some examples of physical abuse include:

  • being assaulted,
  • hit, slapped, pushed,
  • restrained,
  • being denied food or water,
  • not being helped to go to the bathroom when you need to go
  • misuse of your medication

Sexual abuse

Sexual abuse is when someone does sexual things to another person who does not want it happening to them or may not understand what's happening.

Some examples of sexual abuse include

  • forcing someone to have sex against their will, which is known as rape
  • indecent exposure,
  • sexual harassment,
  • inappropriate looking or touching,
  • sexual teasing or innuendo,
  • sexual photography,
  • subjection to pornography,
  • witnessing sexual acts,
  • sexual acts that you didn't agree to or were pressured into consenting to.

Psychological abuse

Psychological abuse is also known as emotional abuse. This is when someone says and does bad things to upset and hurt someone else.

Some examples of psychological abuse include:

  • someone emotionally abusing you or threatening to hurt or abandon you,
  • stopping you from seeing people
  • humiliating you
  • blaming
  • controlling
  • intimidating or harassing you
  • verbal abuse or being shouted at
  • cyber bullying
  • isolation, or an unreasonable and unjustified withdrawal of services or support networks
  • bullying
  • being made to feel frightened

Financial or material abuse

Financial and material abuse is when someone takes someone’s money or things without asking.

Some examples of financial and material abuse include:

  • someone stealing money or belongings from you
  • it might be someone who is appointed to look after your money on your behalf using the money inappropriately or coercing you into spending it in a way you are not happy with.
  • Internet scams and doorstep crime

Neglect or acts of omission

Neglect is when someone says they are going to help someone by giving them care and support but they do not.

Acts of omission is when someone ignores situations when someone else is being neglected.

Some examples of neglect include:

  • not being provided with enough food or the right kind of food
  • not being taken proper care of
  • leaving you without help to wash or change dirty or wet clothes,
  • not getting you to a doctor when you need one
  • not making sure you have the right medicines

Organisational abuse

Organisational abuse is when any form of abuse is caused by an organisation. It can include neglect and poor practice within a specific care setting such as a hospital or care home, or where care is given to someone in their own home.


Self-neglect is when someone does not take care of themselves properly. This can put their safety, health and well-being in danger.

Some examples include when someone:

  • where someone is no longer looking after themselves
  • not eating or washing properly
  • hoarding and living in chaotic and filthy conditions

Self-neglect may happen because a person is unable or unwilling (or both) to manage to care for them self or their home.

Sometimes some people choose to live like this.

It is important their rights are supported if they have the mental capacity to make the decision.

Discriminatory abuse

Discriminatory abuse is when someone says or does bad things to someone else because they are different to them.

People are treated unfairly because of their:

  • race or religion
  • gender, gender identity or sexual orientation
  • age
  • disability

You can report this on our hate incident reporting page.

Mate crime

Mate crime is a form of disability hate crime.

It happens when someone pretends to be a friend and then uses, manipulates or abuses the person.

Domestic violence and abuse

Domestic violence and abuse happens between people in relationships or family members. It is a pattern of behaviour which involves violence or other abuse by one person against another.

Examples of domestic violence and abuse include:

  • emotional abuse/psychological abuse
  • physical abuse
  • sexual abuse
  • financial abuse
  • honour based violence
  • forced marriage
  • female genital mutilation

For help and support see our Domestic abuse page.

Modern slavery

Modern Slavery is slavery that happens today. Slavery is when someone is forced to work or do other things they do not want to.

It is a growing problem that can happen to men, women and children. People are treated like slaves; they are forced and tricked into a life of abuse.

It is treating people in an inhumane way. This means when someone is cruel, does not have compassion and they can make people suffer.

Modern Slavery can take many forms and some examples include:

  • human trafficking
  • forcing someone to work, they can be made to work for free in a shop, in a factory or even sell sex
  • forcing someone to be a domestic slave and not letting people have their own life

For help and support see our Modern slavery and human trafficking reporting

I think I am being abused or neglected: what can I do?

You can:

  • Report it
  • Don't worry about making a fuss – tell someone you trust as soon as possible.
  • Speak to friends or careworkers, who may have an understanding of the situation and be able to take steps quickly to improve the situation.
  • You can also talk to professionals such as your GP or social worker about your concerns, or you could ask to speak Kirklees Council Adult Safeguarding team.
  • If you believe a crime is being, or has been, committed – whether it's physical abuse or financial – talk to the police or ask someone you trust to do so on your behalf.

What happens after abuse is reported?

When you report abuse, people will:

  • listen to you
  • take your concerns seriously
  • respond sensitively
  • make enquiries about the concerns
  • consider the wishes of the adult at risk
  • talk to the police if it is a criminal matter
  • support the adult at risk to achieve the changes they want, wherever possible
  • develop a plan with the adult at risk to keep them safe in the future
  • consider if anyone else is at risk.

For more information on what happens after you report a safeguarding issue read our Safeguarding and you leaflet.