Adult abuse

Safeguarding and protecting adults from abuse is about making sure that adults who need extra care and support:

  • keep their independence
  • maintain their wellbeing
  • make their own choices
  • live a life that is free from fear, violence or harm.

This means that any adult who is experiencing or is at risk of abuse or neglect should be able to get help from organisations such as Adult Social Care at Newcastle City Council or Northumbria Police and local organisations.

What is abuse?

Abuse can be:

  • Criminal exploitation: Where someone forces you to carry out or be involved in crime. They may threaten or hurt you.
  • Domestic: This can be a combination of different types of abuse and is carried out by a family member or partner.
  • Discriminatory: When someone treats you badly because of your gender, sexuality, ability, age, religion or the colour of your skin.
  • Financial: When someone takes your money or private things without asking. For example, someone might spend your money in a way that you do not want.
  • Modern slavery: When someone forces you to work for no money. Modern slaves might be ‘owned’ or controlled by an ’employer’ or moved from different areas or abroad.
  • Neglect: Someone caring for you doesn’t take care of you properly. For example they may not help you to get food, keep warm and safe or take you to the doctors for help.
  • Organisational: When an organisation doesn’t look after you properly. For example a care home, hospital, day centre or a home care provider.
  • Physical: Someone hurting you. For example being hit, slapped, kicked, burnt, held down or pushed around.
  • Psychological: -Someone saying things to upset you. For example calling you names, threatening you or hurting your feelings.
  • Self neglect: When you are unable to look after yourself. For example, no longer washing yourself or wearing clean clothes. This includes ‘hoarding’ and being unable to look after your home so it’s safe to live in. You may become unwell and your wellbeing or safety is affected.
  • Sexual: Someone touching or doing things to you which you don’t like. For example, making you touch or kiss someone when you do not want to. Or sexual exploitation, where you receive gifts or money for performing sexual acts which you did not consent to.

Who is at risk of abuse?

Anyone can be abused. Some people are more at risk than others.

An adult at risk is someone aged 18 or over, who may have care and support needs and who cannot always protect themselves from harm. Adults at risk may:

  • be older and need help from others
  • have a learning or physical disability
  • have mental health needs
  • have sensory support needs
  • misuse drugs or alcohol

Who is an abuser?

An abuser is more likely to be someone that you know and trust. An abuser can be:

  • a partner, relative, friend or child
  • a paid carer or volunteer
  • a health or social care worker, or other professional
  • another adult with care and support needs
  • a stranger
  • more than one person

Where can abuse take place?

Abuse can happen anywhere, including in:

  • your own home
  • your family or friend’s homes
  • a public place
  • a care setting, such as in a care home or a hospital.

How to report abuse

In an emergency or if someone’s life is at risk call 999.

If you are told about or witness an incident of adult abuse, are the victim of adult abuse or think abuse may be happening you can:

Adult Social Care at Newcastle City Council are the main point of contact in Newcastle when someone has a concern about the abuse or neglect of an adult.


What happens when abuse is reported?

All concerns are taken seriously. When a report is made trained staff, at Newcastle City Council, carry out a careful and sensitive enquiry.

They work with the adult at risk and organisations to give information and advice.  Helping you make an informed choice about how to care for the adult at risk. An investigation may be needed, to protect the adult or others, from abuse.

Help to take part in the safeguarding process

The person at risk should be involved in the safeguarding adults process. They should be able to give their views about what they want to happen, to help reduce risks and keep them safe.

Sometimes the person at risk needs help to be involved and to be heard. A family member or friend can help. When there isn’t an appropriate family member or friend, the council can arrange an independent advocate to support them.

Your Voice Counts is the advocacy organisation for people who have difficulty in understanding or taking part in safeguarding enquiries or processes, or reviews of support plans. The council makes referrals for this service when needed.

Read more about Advocacy support to get your voice heard on InformationNOW

Emotional support

Victims First help victims of crime, witnesses, their family, friends and anyone else affected.

Vita Health Group help people with wellbeing problems, such as depression, anxiety, stress, anger, fears, bereavement and relationship difficulties.

Patient Information Centre has a range of easy to read self help guides, including one on abuse.

Criminal exploitation

Criminal exploitation is when someone forces you to carry out or be involved in crime such as, drug dealing or stealing. They may:

  • threaten or hurt you to make do what they want
  • pretend to be your friend to gain your trust
  • offer you money or gifts to persuade you to do things for them

There are different types of exploitation. Some people may be targeted by criminals because they are on a low income, have a mental health condition, a partner or family member has died, have a health condition or other things that  makes them vulnerable.

Home takeover

Home takeover or home invasion (sometimes known as ‘cuckooing’) is a type of criminal exploitation where someone moves into your home and takes over. They may use force to move into your home or make you invite them to stay. Once living in your home they may use your house to carry out crimes. You can watch the video below from Newcastle Safeguarding Adults Board for information on signs of home takeover and find help on their website

Human trafficking and modern slavery.

This is when people are tricked into a situation where they are bought sold and traded or someone makes money from work they are forced to do. As well as sex work or forced labour – this could be being forced into criminal activities, such as drugs, theft, fraud or false marriages.

Stop the Traffik explain how to spot the signs of human trafficking. They have a Stay safe in the UK resource, to help people leaving the Ukraine find support in the UK to stay safe.

Modern slavery & exploitation helpline is a free, confidential, 24/7 UK national Helpline with advice and help for everyone. This helpline is provided by the anti-slavery charity Unseen.

Read more about support in Newcastle for refugees and asylum seekers. This includes more on help for victims of human trafficking or modern day slavery.

You can report any concerns to Community Health & Social Care Direct. You can report concerns anonymously to Crimestoppers by phone or online.

Changing Lives work with people at risk of or experiencing exploitation (Girls Are Proud, GAP; and Men Are Proud, MAP) and modern day slavery (Liberty Project).

Edge North East are specialists in serious youth violence, criminal exploitation and mentoring young people, working with people up to the age of 25.

Domestic Abuse

Domestic abuse is any incident or pattern of incidents that are: controlling, coercive, threatening, violent.  It is called domestic abuse because it affects those in a relationship, the whole family or all those living together in a home.  It affects those who witness the abuse and the wider family and friends who are aware of the abuse.

Newcastle Integrated Domestic Abuse Service has a refuge for women and their children who are moving from abusive relationships. It’s open 24 hours a day. They can support men who need alternative housing to leave abusive relationships. You can be referred to this service or contact them directly. They also offer:

  • an outreach service where they support people at risk of abuse
  • independent advice about domestic and sexual violence for victims at high risk of harm
  • support with housing and legal issues, access to benefits, training, employment and finding schools and childcare

Make a Change Newcastle is a free support programme for anyone over 18 who is concerned that they might be hurting, scaring or controlling their partner; or for partners, family and community affected by this behaviour. They offer one to one and group support.

Newcastle Women’s Aid offer 1 to 1 or group support to help recover after experiencing domestic abuse.

Elder abuse

Elder abuse is the abuse or exploitation of older people. They can be more at risk of abuse. This includes abuse such as:

We are Hourglass provides information and support to older people affected by abuse. They have a confidential helpline.

Financial abuse

Financial abuse includes:

  • having money or other property stolen
  • being defrauded or scammed
  • having money, property, possessions or benefits misused

It can include: scams, benefit fraud, theft, coercion in relation to wills or property, loan sharks, bogus doorstep callers, cuckooing or home invasion and ‘Mate crime’.

Mate Crime is where someone pretends to be your friend and asks for money or other things from you.

The Newcastle Safeguarding Adults Board have guidance on financial abuse which gives more information on what financial abuse is and how to spot it, things that can be done to prevent it and how to respond to it when it has happened. There are a range of services and support available to people who are experiencing, or at risk of, financial abuse.  Organisations include Action Fraud and Citizen’s Advice Newcastle.

Forced or predatory marriage

Forced or predatory marriage is a type of domestic abuse. It is when someone pressurises, persuades, and/or forces someone to marry them, for their own purposes or gain. This could be to take their money, inherit their property or to control them.

Predatory marriage can happen to anyone. Often adults who don’t have the mental capacity to give their consent to marriage are targeted. For example, someone with dementia.

It is illegal to force someone into a marriage without their agreement or consent. Forcing someone to marry can result in a sentence of up to 7 years in prison.

This abuse can be difficult to spot. There are some signs to look out for such as, a new friendship that doesn’t seem quite right or someone moving into their home.

Contact Community Health & Social Care Direct if you are worried about the abuse or neglect of an adult in Newcastle. has more information about how to stop a forced marriage, marriage protection orders and forced marriages abroad. has more information about the signs of forced marriage. It includes a useful ‘Did you know’ section.

IKWRO provides advice and support to Middle Eastern and Afghan women and girls living in the UK who are facing Forced Marriage, Child Marriage, “Honour” Based Violence, Female Genital Mutilation and Domestic Violence. They offer advice in Farsi, Dari, Kurdish, Arabic, Turkish, Pashto and English and run a free counselling service in Farsi, Kurdish, Arabic and English.

Organisational abuse

Organisational (or institutional) abuse is when an organisation doesn’t look after you properly. This includes organisations that provide care and health services such as a care home, hospital, day centre or a home care provider.

Care Quality Commission make sure hospitals, care homes, home care, dental and GP surgeries, and all other care services in England provide people with safe, effective, compassionate and high-quality care, and they encourage them to make improvements. They do this by inspecting services and publishing the results on their website to help you make better decisions about the care you receive. You can give feedback on the care services you receive on their website.

Healthwatch Newcastle helps everyone speak up about health and social care services in Newcastle. They use this information to make services better. They offer free, confidential and independent information about these services.

Respond supports people with a learning disability or autism who may experience personal or institutional abuse.

Read more on InformationNOW about how to:

Sexual abuse

If someone forces you to do something you do not want to do of a sexual nature, it is never your fault and it is not okay. If this has happened to you, you should report it or speak to someone you trust to get help and support.  Any sort of sexual activity without consent is illegal whatever the age of the people involved and whatever your relationship.

Read sexual health and sex in later life articles on InformationNOW for more about consent, sexual assault and rape.

Rape Crisis Tyneside & Northumberland support women and girls of any age who have experienced sexual violence.

REACH is the north east SARC (Sexual Assault Referral Centre) providing 24-hour crisis intervention and support for anyone who has experienced a sexual offence, regardless of when the offence occurred or whether the incident was reported to the police or not.

The Revenge Porn Helpline supports adult victims of intimate image abuse who live in the UK. They provide advice, guidance and support with helping to remove intimate content which has been non-consensually shared online. is a free tool designed to support victims of Non-Consensual Intimate Image (NCII) abuse.

Child abuse

If you’re worried about a child or young person in Newcastle report your concerns to the Safeguarding Team at Newcastle City Council.

If someone is in immediate danger call 999.

Stop Abuse Together It’s important to know how to spot the potential signs of child sexual abuse and where to go for support. This government website brings together advice and resources to help you keep the children in your life safe.

How to contact the Police if speaking or making a noise would put you in danger

The Silent Solution police system 

If you’re in an emergency situation and need police help, but can’t speak, Make Yourself Heard to let the 999 operator know your call is genuine. All 999 calls are directed to call centres where you are asked which service you need. If no service is requested but something suspicious is heard during your call, BT operators will connect you to a police call handler if you can communicate with them using the steps described below:

  1. Listen to the call handlers questions
  2. Cough or tap the handset if possible
  3. Press 55 if prompted, to let them know your call is genuine. You can then be put through to the police
  4. If calling from a landline the silent solution can’t be used. They will try to ask you questions and get a response from you. If they can’t decide if your call is genuine, the call may be ended. However the call may stay connected for 45 seconds. Pick up the handset again to let the police know your call is genuine. If the call handler is worried about your safety you’ll be connected to your local police. Calling from a landline gives the call handler more information about your location.

Read more about the Silent Police Solution.

Staying safe in Newcastle

You can read more information about staying safe in Newcastle on InformationNOW

Hate crime article on InformationNOW which explains how to report hate crime and where you can get support.

Personal safety

Anti social behaviour

Prevent Newcastle work to protect vulnerable people and children from being targeted and persuaded to support extremist views, known as radicalisation. Signs of radicalisation are a change in someone’s behaviour. They may become withdrawn, seem angry,  spend more time online and express strong or violent views. If you’re worried, contact Prevent.

Help for professionals

The Newcastle Safeguarding Adults Board (NSAB) is made up of organisations that work together to to protect and prevent abuse of adults at risk. Visit their website to find out more about safeguarding in Newcastle

The Safeguarding Adults Unit provide advice, support and training to organisations about safeguarding policies, procedures and best practice.

They offer free safeguarding training to people working and volunteering in Newcastle. This includes safeguarding children and adults. Visit their website to find out more about their online learning courses and resources.

Last updated: April 19, 2024