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Adult abuse

Who is at risk of adult abuse, report abuse, what happens after abuse is reported, types of abuse, people who may cause harm.

Info for professionals about adult abuse.


People at risk

Abuse can happen to anyone, but some adults are more "at risk" of abuse or neglect because they are more vulnerable.

A person is defined as an "adult at risk" if they are:

  • 18 years or older

  • In need of care and support (whether or not they get any) because of their age, disability, illness, mental health needs, drug or alcohol misuse and

  • As a result of their care and support needs are unable to protect themselves from harm

If you or the person you are concerned about is not an "adult at risk" but you wish to report abuse:

Report child abuse

Report domestic abuse

Report hate crime. An incident you feel was motivated by prejudice or hate e.g. because of your race, religious beliefs, sexuality or gender.


Report adult abuse

If you or someone you know is being abused (or you suspect they are).

Speak out! Don't ignore it! Report it! 

If you or someone else is in immediate danger call 999.

If there is no immediate danger you can tell someone you trust. This might be someone in your family, a friend or neighbour, or it could be a professional, like your doctor, social worker or care worker.

If you don't want to tell someone you know, you can tell us:

Telephone: 0114 2734908 (you can ring this number anytime).

Email: (do not include personal information if you do not have a secure email address)

Specialist abuse websites and helplines


Next steps

If you report adult abuse to us we will:

  • Listen to you

  • Take all concerns seriously

  • Treat the information you give us in the strictest confidence

  • Help to stop the abuse

  • Keep you informed and involved at each stage of our safeguarding adults procedure

In Sheffield we have an Safeguarding Partnership which is made up of a range of organisations including ourselves, NHS, police and voluntary sector.

These organisations work closely together to make sure that all cases of suspected abuse are investigated fully and that vulnerable adults are protected from harm.

Care and support jargon buster. 


Types of abuse

Abuse is any action which harms another person. It includes:

Physical abuse

Hitting, slapping, pushing, kicking, burning, locking someone in a room, inappropriate restraint, misuse of medication.

Verbal abuse

Shouting or swearing.

Domestic abuse

Physical, sexual, financial, psychological and emotional abuse. Also includes so called "honour" based violence.

Sexual abuse

Rape, sexual assault, forcing someone to take part in or witness a sexual act against their will, inappropriate looking or touching, sexual photography.

Emotional or psychological abuse

Bullying, controlling, threats of harm or abandonment, deprivation of contact from people or support services, being laughed at, made to feel frightened or being pressured into decisions.

Financial or material abuse

Fraud, stealing, misusing or withholding someone's money or belongings, pressure in connection with wills, property or inheritance.


Being left without food, heating, care or medication.


Ill treatment or harassment based on a person's age, gender, sexuality, disability, race or religious belief.

Modern slavery

Slavery, human trafficking, forced labour and domestic servitude.


A person neglecting their personal hygiene, health or surroundings (this includes hoarding).

Organisational abuse

Neglect or poor care within a care setting (e.g. a care home or hospital or care provided in one’s own home) resulting from failure by that care provider to meet the care needs of people in their care.


People who may cause harm

People who may cause harm can be partners, family members, relatives, people who work or volunteer in health or social care services, another service user, friends, neighbours or strangers.

Abuse can happen just once or may carry on for months or years.

  • Modified: Jan 20, 2016 9:53:54 AM