Definitions of abuse

What is abuse and neglect?

Adults with care and support needs can be the victims of many types of abuse and neglect including:

Domestic abuse 

Controlling and coercive behaviour, forced marriage, female genital mutilation or honour based violence.

Discriminatory abuse

Ill-treatment or harassment based on a persons’ age, sex, sexuality, disability, religious beliefs or ethnic group – disability hate crime.

Financial or material abuse 

Financial scams (in person, on line, by post or telephone); theft; fraud coercion over wills; misuse of someone’s money, property or other belongings without their agreement.

Institutional abuse 

Through rigid regimes, systematic poor care; poor organisational culture; lack of resources; denial of choice; lack of dignity and respect for service users.

Physical abuse 

Hitting; burning; pushing or kicking someone; rough handling; unreasonable restraint (including misuse of medication); locking someone in a room.

Neglect or acts of omission 

Neglect or acts of omission by people responsible for giving care including; ignoring medical, emotional or physical care needs; failure to provide access to the appropriate health, care and support or educational services; withholding necessities of like such as medication, adequate nutrition and heating.

Sexual abuse

Rape; inappropriate touching; forcing or grooming someone to take part in or witness any sexual act against their will.

Psychological or emotional abuse

Intimidation; bullying; shouting; swearing; taunting; threatening or humiliating someone; grooming; manipulation; or inciting someone to carry out a criminal or terrorist acts.


Neglecting to care for oneself or environment.


Trafficking; forced labour and domestic servitude.