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Who is an adult at risk?

A vulnerable adult at risk is anyone aged 18 and over who:

  • has needs for care and support
  • is experiencing, or at risk of abuse or neglect
  • is unable to protect themselves against significant harm or exploitation


What is abuse?

Abuse can be a single or repeated act or lack of appropriate action, which causes harm or distress. It happens in many forms:

  • Disability hate crime
  • Discriminatory abuse
  • Domestic abuse
  • Financial or material abuse
  • Forced marriage
  • Hate crime
  • Honor-based violence
  • Human trafficking
  • Mate crime
  • Modern slavery
  • Neglect and acts of omission
  • Organisational abuse
  • Physical abuse
  • Psychological abuse
  • Restraint
  • Sexual abuse
  • Sexual exploitation

More information on each type of abuse:
Types of abuse - descriptions and supporting guidance



Who could be an abuser?

  • Spouses / partners
  • Other family members
  • Neighbours
  • Friends
  • Acquaintances
  • Local residents
  • People who deliberately exploit adults they perceive as vulnerable to abuse
  • Paid staff or professionals
  • Volunteers and strangers


Where can abuse happen?

  • In your own home
  • At relatives or friends homes
  • In residential or nursing homes
  • In a day centre, social club, adult education centre
  • In hospital or GP surgery
  • Any public places


What to do if you witness a person being abused

Take the following steps if you witness an abuse or to report an abuse:

  • Make sure that the person is safe
  • Listen calmly to the person
  • Talk reassuringly to the person and guarantee confidentiality
  • Explain that you must inform your line manager
  • Tell them that with their consent they can get help and support
  • Make an accurate report using the person's own words
  • Describe the circumstances in which it occurred
  • Keep person informed of all follow-on proceedings

In an emergency please call 999​​​


How to report abuse of an adult​​​​​
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