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Abuse is said to take place when a person’s rights – human and civil – are violated by another person (or several people) in a way that results in them being harmed. This harm may be physical, sexual, financial or emotional. Failing to respond to the needs of someone who is unable to care for their own needs is itself a form of abuse known as ‘neglect’.

Abuse of any kind is unacceptable, yet it is not always easy to recognise the signs and dangers.

Sometimes the abused person may realise that what is happening to them is wrong but feel unable or afraid to speak out.

If their abuser is in a position of power, the victim may be  frightened that no-one will believe them.

Abuse might happen once, e.g. a sexual assault or female genital mutilation, or may be ongoing, sometimes for years.

What to do if you suspect someone is being abused

Safeguarding children and adults from abuse is everyone’s responsibility.

If you suspect a child or an adult is being abused, report your concerns immediately (you do not need to leave your name). Don't wait until you are 100% certain – it could be too late.

Ring the police on 101 or contact your council’s Local Safeguarding Team. In an emergency, call 999. If your concerns are about a child of school age, ask to talk to the school’s designated child protection teacher.

Social workers have a legal duty to investigate any concerns about a child or young person under 18 if they are made aware that they might be at risk from abuse or neglect.

Recent legislation places a duty on all Welsh councils to make enquiries if the suspicion of abuse relates to an adult with care and support needs.

Live Fear Free is an all-Wales website providing advice about abuse, how to recognise it and who to turn to for support.

Last updated: 17/03/2016