Skip to content
Text size:

What should you do if someone tells you they are being harmed or abused?

  • take what you are being told seriously
  • stay calm and listen to them
  • offer support to help them stop the abuse from happening
  • be aware that medical or other evidence might be needed so keep the evidence safe
  • write down what the person tells you in their own words
  • contact Adult Social Services or the Police at once

If you are being abused or harmed or suspect someone is being abused/harmed you can discuss your concerns by contacting Adult Social Services or the Police.

You can ask someone you trust to contact them for you.

If you think someone may be at immediate risk of serious harm contact the Police.

Contact adult social care

  • Bournemouth and Christchurch - 01202 454 979
  • Poole -01202 633 902
  • Dorset Council - 01305 221 016

Out of Hours Service - Evenings and Weekends

  • Bournemouth, Christchurch & Poole - 0300 1239895
  • Dorset - 01305 858250

Contact Police

Call 999 in an emergency and 101 at all other times.

What do we mean by harm or abuse?

Abuse is when someone does something to another person which damages their quality of life or puts them at risk of harm. Abuse can happen once or repeatedly. It may be deliberate or unintentional.

Which adults may be at risk of abuse?

Some people over 18 years of age may be more at risk than others. This can include people who:

  • depend on others for their care
  • are older, frail or unable to protect themselves
  • have mental health problems
  • have a learning disability
  • have a physical disability
  • have sight or hearing loss
  • have dementia or memory loss
  • misuse of alcohol or drugs
  • have long term health needs
  • are carers

Who can abuse or harm?

Anyone can cause harm. It is usually someone the person knows.

Where does abuse happen?

Abuse can happen anywhere - at home, in a care home, hospital, day centre or in a public place.

Types of abuse

Abuse can take many forms and may include:

  • Physical - Hitting or injuring someone. Restraining someone inappropriately.
  • Psychological or emotional - Intimidating, threatening, or humiliating. Abusing racially, verbally or psychologically. Exploiting someone.
  • Sexual - Involving a person in sexual activity which is unwanted or not understood. Giving unwanted sexual attention.
  • Modern Slavery - This includes human trafficking, being forced to work and sexual exploitation.
  • Organisational - Neglect and poor care practices within an institution or care setting like a hospital or care home, or care within a person’s own home.
  • Neglect or acts of omission - Not providing food, drink, clothing, attention or care. Withholding aids or equipment for continence, walking, hearing or sight. Putting someone at risk of infection. Failing to provide access to health or social care. Misusing, overdosing or withholding medication.
  • Financial or economic - Stealing or misusing money, property or possessions. Pressure in connection with wills, property or inheritance.
  • Discriminatory - Treating someone less favourably and unfairly because of race, religion or belief, age, gender, disability or sexual orientation.
  • Self-neglect and/or hoarding - A wide range of behaviour neglecting to care for one's hygiene, health or surroundings and may include behaviour such as hoarding.
  • Sexual exploitation - Where an actual or attempted abuse of a position of vulnerability or trust for sexual purposes is carried out on a vulnerable person.
  • Internet/cyberbullying - When technology, and in particular, mobile phones and the internet is used to deliberately harm, upset, harass or embarrass a person.
  • Domestic violence or abuse - This includes controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour or violence between intimate partners or family members.

How do I make comments or complain about Dorset Council?

Dorset Council is committed to providing quality services to you, your carers and family. We welcome any comments as this helps us understand what parts of our service people like.

If you are unhappy about the service you have received and want to make a complaint, please speak to a social care worker or contact Dorset Council and ask for a copy of our complaints leaflet.

You can write to us at:

Complaints Team,


Business Reply Licence number


Dorset Council, Colliton Park,

Dorchester, Dorset, DT1 1XJ.


Or by telephone on 01305 221061


If you don’t want to talk directly to us, you can contact Healthwatch Dorset, an independent organisation that represents the views and wishes of people who use adult social care services in Dorset.

0300 111 0102

Accessibility statement

Dorset Council is committed to making its information and services accessible to all. If you would like any information in an alternative format please contact us

01305 221000

Contact us

You can find further information about adult social care and support services provided by Dorset Council at:

01305 221016