Everyone has the right to live in safety, free from abuse and neglect. Abuse and neglect can occur anywhere: in your own home or a public place, while you’re in hospital or attending a day centre, or in a college or care home. You may be living alone or with others. The person causing the harm may be a stranger but, more often than not, you’ll know and feel safe with them. They’re usually in a position of trust and power, such as a healthcare professional, relative or neighbour.


Sexual abuse

This includes:

  • Indecent exposure
  • Sexual harassment
  • Inappropriate looking or touching
  • Sexual teasing or innuendo
  • Sexual photography
  • Being forced to watch pornography or sexual acts
  • Being forced or pressured to take part in sexual acts
  • Rape

Read more about getting help after rape and sexual assault on the NHS website

You can also find your nearest sexual assault referral centre

Physical abuse

This includes:

  • Being hit, slapped, pushed or restrained
  • Being denied food or water
  • Not being helped to go to the bathroom when you need to
  • Misuse of your medicines

Psychological abuse

This includes:

  • Emotional abuse
  • Threats to hurt or abandon you
  • Stopping you from seeing people
  • Humiliating, blaming, controlling, intimidating or harassing you
  • Verbal abuse
  • Cyberbullying and isolation
  • An unreasonable and unjustified withdrawal of services or support networks

Domestic abuse

This is typically an incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour, violence or abuse by someone who is, or has been, an intimate partner or family member.

Read more about domestic violence, abuse and sexual assault here

Discriminatory abuse

This includes some forms of harassment, slurs or unfair treatment relating to your:

  • Race
  • Gender and gender identity
  • Age
  • Disability
  • Sexual orientation
  • Religion

Financial abuse

This could be someone stealing your money or other valuables from you. Or it might be that someone appointed to look after your money on your behalf is using it inappropriately or coercing you to spend it in a way you’re not happy with.

Internet scams and doorstep crime are also common forms of financial abuse.


Neglect includes not being provided with enough food or with the right kind of food, or 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 or not making sure you have the right medicines all count as neglect.

I think I am being abused or neglected. What can I do?

There are many people you can talk to. If you feel you are being abused or neglected:

  • Do not worry about making a fuss – tell someone you trust as soon as possible
  • Speak to friends or care workers who may have an understanding of the situation and be able to take steps quickly to improve the situation
  • Talk to professionals such as a GP or social worker about your concerns, or ask to speak to your local council’s adult safeguarding team or co-ordinator
  • Call the Hourglass Helpline on 0808 808 8141 for advice on older people at risk of any kind of harm, abuse or exploitation
  • 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

For more information on types of abuse, if you are worried about someone who may be experiencing abuse or neglect, including older people, visit the NHS website

Information from the NHS website is licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0

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