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Abuse is an intentional or unintentional act that harms, hurts or exploits another individual/s. Abuse can take many forms, but no type of abuse is acceptable.

Physical abuse

Physical abuse is deliberately hurting or injuring an individual/s. This could include hitting, smacking, pushing, shaking, spitting, pinching, scalding, misusing medication, inappropriate restraint, inappropriate physical sanctions or other ways of causing physical harm.

Emotional abuse

Emotional abuse, also referred to as psychological abuse, is the attempt to scare, control or isolate an individual by intimidation or fear. It may involve deliberately telling someone that they are worthless, not giving them the opportunity to express their views, silencing or ‘making fun’ of them.

Sexual abuse

Sexual abuse involves a person being made to take part in sexual activity when they do not, or cannot, give consent. It may not involve physical contact and can also take place online. It can include sexual touching and all penetrative sex, but also things like indecent exposure and sexual harassment.

Online abuse

Online abuse is any type of abuse that happens on the internet, for example through social media, or mobile phones. Online abuse covers a wide range of behaviours and technologies. It can include trolling, stealing someone else’s identity, cyber-stalking and cyberbullying.

Self Neglect

Self neglect is when a person being unable, or unwilling, to care for their own essential needs. It can cover a wide range of behaviour including neglecting personal hygiene, health or surroundings, refusal of necessary support and obsessive hoarding.


Neglect is the ongoing failure to meet an individuals basic and essential needs, either deliberately, or by failing to understand these. It includes ignoring a person’s needs, or withholding essentials to meet needs, such as medication, food, water, shelter and warmth.

Domestic abuse

Domestic abuse is any type of controlling, bullying, threatening or violent behaviour between people in a personal or family relationship. The most common type of domestic abuse occurs in personal relationships, but it can also mean abuse between family members.

Organisational abuse

Organisational abuse is the inability to provide a good level of care to an individual or group of people in a care setting such as a hospital or care home, or in a person’s own home if they receive care assistance there. It may be a one-off incident, repeated incidents or on-going ill-treatment.


Stalking can be defined as persistent and unwanted attention that makes you feel pestered and harassed. It includes behaviour that happens twice or more, directed at or towards you by another person, which causes you to feel alarmed or distressed or to fear that violence might be used against you.

Discriminatory abuse

Discriminatory abuse is unequal treatment based on age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion and belief, sex or sexual orientation. It can include insulting language, harassment or ill-treatment due to these personal characteristics.

Financial abuse

Financial abuse can involve theft, fraud and exploitation, coercion in relation to an adult’s financial affairs or arrangements, including pressure in connection with wills, property, inheritance or financial transactions, or the misuse or misappropriation of property, possessions or benefits.

Female genital mutilation

Female genital mutilation (FGM) is when a woman or girl’s genitals are deliberately cut, injured or changed for no medical reason. It is also known as female circumcision or cutting. It is usually carried out on young girls but can also happen to adult women.

Exploitation is the deliberate manipulation or abuse of power used to have control over another person, usually for some form of gain. This can be for a range of reasons including personal, financial or sexual.

Sexual exploitation

Adult Sexual Exploitation (ASE) is a form of sexual abuse that involves someone taking advantage of an adult, sexually, for their own benefit through threats, bribes, and violence. Adults can be exploited in many ways and anybody can be a victim of sexual exploitation, including men.


Radicalisation is the process through which people come to support increasingly extreme political, religious or other ideals. This can lead them to support violent extremism and terrorism. It may be particularly appealing to someone who is experiencing difficulties and challenges in their life.

Modern slavery and human trafficking

Modern slavery is the act of exercising control or ownership over another person and using this power to exploit them. It can take many forms including human trafficking, forced labour, sexual exploitation, criminal exploitation, debt bondage and domestic servitude.

County lines

County lines is when criminals from larger cities expand their drug networks to other areas of the country – usually rural and suburban areas. Vulnerable adults are often exploited to move and store drugs and money and regularly use coercion, intimidation, violence and weapons.

Mate crime

Mate crime is when a person is harmed or taken advantage of by someone they thought was their friend. This can include a friend asking for money and refusing to give it back or emotional or physical abuse by a person who was thought to be a friend.


Scamming is when someone misleads or deceives you through unsolicited or uninvited contact in order to obtain money. This could be by letter, email, phone or through advertising. Victims may also be targeted at home, also known as ‘doorstep scamming’.


Blackmail is a form of exploitation. It is an act of coercion, often criminal, using the threat of revealing or publicising either substantially true or false, and often damaging, information about a person, to the public, family members, or associates unless certain demands are met.


Fraud is when someone tricks or deceives you to gain a dishonest advantage – usually money, goods, services or property. Anyone is susceptible to fraud, and every day criminals invent new ways of taking money from innocent people.

If you are concerned that an adult is at risk please call

Cambridgeshire  Peterborough

0345 045 5202

01733 747474

or email

or email

If it’s an emergency call 999

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