Protecting adults at risk

What is abuse?

Abuse is something that is done to another person, without their full understanding or consent, that harms them in some way. It may consist of a single act or repeated acts. Abuse or neglect may be deliberate, or the result of negligence or ignorance. Unintentional abuse or neglect arises, for example, because pressures have built up and/or because of difficult or challenging behaviour which is not being properly addressed.

Abuse and neglect can take many forms. Abuse can include one or more of the following:

  • Physical abuse includes hitting, pinching, pushing, misuse of medication or physically restraining someone in an inappropriate way. For example, being locked in or force-fed.
  • Financial/material abuse includes theft, fraud, exploitation, coercion in relation to an adult’s financial affairs or arrangements, including in connection with wills, property, inheritance or financial transactions, or the misuse or misappropriation of property, possessions or benefits. For example, having money or property stolen, being pressured into giving people money or changing a will, misuse of benefits, not being allowed access to money.
  • Sexual abuse includes rape and sexual assault or sexual acts to which the adult has not consented and may not understand or was pressured into consenting. For example, being made to touch or kiss someone else, being made to listen to sexual comments or forced to look at sexual acts or materials.
  • Psychological abuse can happen where someone is isolated, verbally abused or threatened. It includes emotional abuse, threats of harm or abandonment, deprivation of contact, humiliation, blaming, controlling, intimidation, coercion, harassment, verbal abuse, isolation or unreasonable and unjustified withdrawal of services or supportive networks.
  • Discriminating abuse includes any type of abuse on grounds of race, gender and gender identity, disability, sexual orientation, religion, and other forms of harassment, slurs or similar treatment. For example, ignoring spiritual or religious beliefs, comments or jokes about a person's disability, age, race, sexual orientation, or gender / gender identity, ignoring cultural needs.
  • Exploitation includes unfairly manipulating someone for profit or personal gain; it can be either opportunistic or premeditated.
  • Neglect and acts of omission includes ignoring medical or physical care needs, failure to provide access to appropriate health, care and support or educational services, the withholding of the necessities of life, such as medication, adequate nutrition and heating.
  • Institutional abuse can occur in a social or health care establishment such as a hospital or care home and includes from poor practice to neglect, ill treatment and gross misconduct. This may range from isolated incidents to continuing ill-treatment. For example, lack of individual care, no flexibility of bedtimes or waking, deprived environment and lack of stimulation.
  • Mate crime occurs when a person is harmed or taken advantage of by someone they thought was their friend.
  • A Hate Incident is any incident which the victim, or anyone else, thinks is based on someone's prejudice towards them because of their race, religion, sexual orientation, disability or because they are transgender. Not all hate incidents will amount to criminal offences, but those that do become hate crimes.

Where can abuse happen?

People who need support need to trust and depend upon a wide range of people who offer them help in many forms. Abuse can happen anywhere. It could take place:

  • in your own home
  • in someone else's home
  • at a day centre or college
  • in a residential or nursing home
  • in a hospital or GP surgery
  • at work
  • in a public place.

Who might carry out abuse?

Unfortunately we know that abuse can be carried out by anyone such as:

• family, friends, neighbours
• paid staff, carers, volunteers
• other service users or tenants
• strangers.

What to do if you suspect abuse

If you think you are being abused, or another vulnerable adult you know is being harmed in any way, by another person please do not ignore it. In an emergency, or if you suspect you or someone else is in immediate danger, phone 999.

If it is not an emergency you can call 101 or:

report a safeguarding concern to Hampshire County Council
report a safeguarding concern to Southampton City Council
report a safeguarding concern to Portsmouth City Council

Further information

Hampshire Safeguarding Adults Board (HSAB) has information about Safeguarding Adults in Hampshire, including advice, leaflets and policy documents.

hate crime is when someone commits a crime against you because of your disability, gender identity, race, sexual orientation, religion, or any other perceived difference. Mate crime is the exploitation, abuse or theft from any vulnerable person by those they consider to be their friends. Those that commit such abuse or theft are often referred to as 'fake friends'. Mate crime is most prevalent when the victim has a mental disability and is especially common when that disability is Autism or Asperger’s.

Hampshire police  offer guidance on how to prevent and deal with hate crime or mate crime. You can also report hate crime or hate incidents to a community organisation in your area, if you do not feel comfortable contacting the police.

Independent support

If appropriate, you could contact the following organisations that can give confidential advice and support:

For older people

We Are Hourglass (Formerly Action on Elder Abuse) Response Helpline 0808 808 8141 (24/7). 

For people with a learning disability

Respond exists in order to lessen the effect of trauma and abuse on people with learning disabilities, their families and supporters.

Domestic abuse

See our Domestic abuse information page.