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What abuse means

What is abuse

Some adults are less able to protect themselves from harm or abuse. Abuse can be a one-off or happen over a longer period and can take place anywhere.

Abuse can take many forms, including the following negative behaviour against another person:

  • hitting, injuring or restraining them
  • threatening, intimidating or humiliating them
  • giving them unwanted sexual activity or attention
  • deliberately giving them the wrong medicine
  • not offering food or clothing
  • giving them improper care
  • keeping them alone
  • stealing or misusing their money or property
  • pressurising them about wills or inheritance
  • treating them badly because of their race, ethnicity, religion, age, gender, disability, or sexual orientation.

Those at risk of abuse

Anyone can be abused, and anyone can be an abuser. It is often someone the person being abused knows, and the victim is often in a vulnerable condition. People may be at a higher risk of abuse if they:

  • depend on others for their care
  • are older, frail and unable to protect themselves
  • have mental health problems
  • have a physical or learning disability
  • have a serious sight or hearing impairment
  • have memory problems or dementia
  • misuse alcohol or drugs
  • have a long-term illness.

We work with the police and other health and social care providers to keep people safe from harm. If you think someone is being abused, contact our Adult Social Care Contact Centre on 01202 123 654.

If you spot abuse  

What you to do if someone tells you they are being abused:  

  • stay calm and listen to them 
  • offer them support 
  • write down what they tell you using their own words 
  • keep any evidence safe 
  • call us, or Dorset Police on 01202 222 222 
  • call 999 in an emergency.  

Do not:

  • ask them for more details
  • contact the person who is abusing them
  • promise to keep it secret
  • assume someone else knows what's going on and will get in touch.

Call 999 if you think someone is in immediate danger.

You can also tell a health or social care professional like a social worker, nurse, doctor or occupational therapist.

If you contact us, we’ll ask you for your name and contact details. This is in case we need to get in touch with you to make sure we have enough information to keep the person safe.

Useful websites  

These websites offer additional information about adult abuse:

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