Some types of abuse - including assault (sexual or physical), theft and fraud - are criminal offences that should be reported to the police.

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

Physical abuse

This is when someone physically hurts you.

This could be someone who:

  • hits you
  • kicks you
  • slaps you
  • pinches or scratches you
  • pulls your hair
  • burns you
  • gives you too much medicine or the wrong medicine

Information and advice

Sexual abuse

This is when someone touches your body or private parts in ways you do not like or want.

It is also when someone makes you do sexual things that make you sad, angry or frightened.

This can be someone:

  • touching your bottom
  • touching your breasts
  • making you touch other people in these places
  • kissing when you don't want to be kissed
  • making you look at or watch pictures or films of a sexual nature

Emotional/Psychological abuse

This is when someone says bad things which hurt your feelings.

This can be someone:

  • shouting or swearing at you
  • threatening you
  • calling you names
  • laughing at you
  • ignoring you
  • blaming you when it's not your fault
  • treating you without respect

Financial or material abuse

This is when people take your money or belongings without asking.

This can be when someone:

  • steals your money
  • takes control of your money
  • makes you pay for other people's things
  • takes things that belong to you
  • using your bank card without your agreement and persuading you to give them your bank number


This is when people who are there to help you do not look after you properly.

This can include:

  • being hungry most of the time
  • not being kept safe
  • not getting the right medical help
  • not being given the correct medicine or tablets
  • not having clean clothes to wear

Self neglect

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

This can be when someone is:

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

Information and advice

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.

Organisational abuse

This is when you receive poor care in a care home, hospital or in your own home from someone paid to support and provide care for you.

This can be when:

  • there are not enough staff on duty most of the time
  • most of the staff are not trained
  • the rules and routines are made by the manager and staff
  • your personal things are used by or for someone else

Discriminatory abuse

This is when people treat you badly or unfairly because you are different to them.

This could be because you:

  • have a different coloured skin
  • have different religious beliefs
  • are disabled
  • are gay or lesbian
  • speak a different language
  • communicate in a different way, such as Makaton or sign language.

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

Information and advice

Modern slavery

This is when people are forced to work against their wishes, with no choice about what they do or where they live, for little or no money.

  • 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

Information and advice

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