What is abuse?

Abuse is when a person says or does something which makes you feel very sad or scared. Sometimes it might also be against the law.

Abuse can be caused by anyone. It could be a stranger or even someone who you feel comfortable with like a friend, carer or family member.

Abuse could happen anywhere; in your home, in a public place, at work or college, or online.

Abuse is never your fault and nobody has the right to abuse you.

Abuse is wrong and you should tell someone. If you are scared, tell someone who you trust who can report it for you.

By reporting abuse you can help bring it to an end.

Types of abuse

Abuse is any event or pattern of events of controlling, forcing, threatening behaviour, or violence. Abuse can include the following.

Physical abuse

Hitting, slapping, kicking or hurting someone in another way.

Sexual abuse

This is when someone touches your private parts when you do not want them to or makes you touch them. It is also when someone talks to you about sex when you do not want them to.

Emotional or psychological abuse

This is when someone makes you feel upset, afraid or unimportant. This could be by someone shouting at you, teasing you, threats or calling you names.

Financial abuse

This is when someone takes something that belongs to you without asking or makes you give them things.


This is when you do not get the help you need. It could be that you are not getting help with your medication, care needs or that you are not being given enough food.

Self neglect

This is when a person might come to harm because they aren’t looking after themselves. This could be because of not taking their medication or not looking after their personal hygiene.

Discriminatory abuse

When someone treats you badly because you are different to them, this is known as discrimination. This could be because of your age, gender, sexuality, disability, race or religious belief. This is sometimes called hate crime.

Organisational abuse

This is when abuse is caused by an organisation such as a care home or a hospital. They may be one off incidents or ongoing abuse.

Modern slavery

This is when someone is forced to work with little or no pay or, is threatened with violence if they do not work.

Domestic abuse

This is when abuse takes place between partners or family members. It is sometimes also called domestic violence.