Everyone has the right to live their life free from violence, fear and abuse. All adults have the right to be protected from harm or exploitation.

Adults have the right to independence, which may involve a degree of risk. Sometimes people are not able to enjoy these rights. If a person is seen as vulnerable or isolated within the community, some people may take advantage of them or cause suffering and harm to them.

A vulnerable adult is a person who needs extra support because they are elderly or have a learning disability, physical or sensory impairment or mental health problem and who is or may be unable to take care of themselves or unable to protect themselves against harm.

What Abuse Is

Abuse is mistreatment by any other person or persons that violates a person's human and civil rights. The abuse can vary from treating someone with disrespect in a way which significantly affects the person's quality of life, to causing actual physical suffering.

Abuse can happen anywhere. In a residential or nursing home, a hospital, in the workplace, at a day centre or educational establishment, in supported housing or the street.

Forms of abuse include (as defined in the Care Act 2014):

  • Physical abuse including hitting, slapping, and pushing, kicking, misuse of medication, restraint, or inappropriate sanctions
  • Domestic Violence including psychological, physical, sexual, financial, emotional abuse and honour based violence
  • Sexual abuse including rape and sexual assault or sexual acts to which the adult at risk has not consented, or is incapable of giving informed consent or was pressured into consenting. This may involve contact or non-contact abuse (e.g. touch, masturbation, being photographed, teasing, and inappropriate touching)
  • Psychological abuse including emotional abuse, threats of harm or abandonment, deprivation of contact, humiliation, blaming, controlling, intimidation, coercion, harassment, verbal abuse, isolation or withdrawal from services or supportive networks
  • Financial or material abuse including theft, fraud, exploitation, pressure in connection with wills, property or inheritance or financial transactions, or the misuse or misappropriation of property, possessions or benefits
  • Modern Slavery includes slavery, human trafficking; forced labour and domestic servitude. Traffickers and slave masters use whatever means they have at their disposal to coerce, deceive and force individuals into a life of abuse, servitude and inhumane treatment. Click here for Nottingham City Councils' Modern Slavery Statement
  • Discriminatory abuse including racist, sexist, based on a person's disability, culture and other forms of harassment, slurs or similar treatment
  • Organisational abuse (previously known as institutional abuse) Neglect and poor professional practice in care settings also need to be taken into account. It may take the form of isolated incidents of poor practice at one end of the spectrum, through to pervasive ill-treatment or gross misconduct at the other. It can occur when the routines, systems, communications and norms of an institution compel individuals to sacrifice their preferred lifestyle and cultural diversity to the needs of that institution. Repeated instances of poor care may be an indication of more serious problems
  • Neglect and acts of omission including ignoring medical or physical care needs, failure to provide access to appropriate health, social care or educational services, and the withholding of the necessities of life, such as medication, adequate nutrition and heating
  • Self- neglect this covers a wide range of behaviour neglecting to care for one's hygiene, health or surroundings and includes behaviour such as hoarding
  • Any of these forms of abuse can be either deliberate or be the result of ignorance, or lack of training, knowledge or understanding. Often if a person is being abused in one way they are also being abused in other ways

If You Are Being Abused

If the abuse you are experiencing is putting your immediate safety at risk, please call 999 straight away.

There are many different types of abuse and it is not always easy to identify.

Some people don't want to tell others that they are being abused. This may be because they don't want the person to get into trouble. They may prefer to ignore the problem in the hope that it will go away. Other people are ashamed or afraid of what will happen to them if they tell.

If you think you are being abused, rest assured that it is not your fault and there are ways that we can help you. Don't ignore the problem. It will more than likely not go away on its own.

If you want to talk to us about being abused or to report abuse, you can call us. Your call can be anonymous if you wish and we take every call very seriously. We will listen to you and treat everything you say in the strictest confidence.

Speaking to someone about a problem can help to find a solution to a problem. When you call us to discuss abuse, we will work with you to help you make any decisions. We will provide help and support to try to end the abuse and enable you to ensure that it does not happen again.


If you are a health professional such as a GP or a carer, you must report any instance where you observe someone being abused or where you suspect someone is being abused or when someone tells you they are being abused.

Remember that there are many different types of abuse.

If you have observed abuse by an individual or an institution, other people may be also affected.

Reporting Abuse

You may know the person that is carrying out abuse and are worried about reporting them. If you are being abused, you don't have to put up with it. If someone you know is being abused, or you have a concern that they may be, you should first make sure that they're safe if it's possible to do so.

Tell someone you trust or call Nottingham City Council Access Duty Team for adults on 0300 131 0300 and select option 2 if you live within the city boundaries, our offices are open from 8.30am to 5 pm. If you live within County boundaries call Nottinghamshire County Council on 0300 500 8080. If unsure where you call any one of the numbers and report what is happening to you, or the person you are concerned about.

Remember, if it's an emergency, dial 999

You can report abuse to us in the strictest confidence and your identity can be kept private.

Contact Us

Aspect House
Aspect Business Park
Bennerley Road
NG6 8WR 

Tel: 0300 131 0300


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