Adult Abuse Defined

Adult abuse generally refers to mistreatment of an older person by someone who has a special relationship with the elder such as a spouse, sibling, child, friend, or caregiver. Abuse may take the form of one or all of the following: physical, financial or emotional abuse, neglect or abandonment. Abuse includes the willful infliction of serious pain or injury, unreasonable confinement, intimidation or forced sexual contact.


Typically, the abuser is a relative, frequently an adult child of the victim. The abusers may suffer from alcohol or drug abuse. Sometimes the abusers were abused as children. The abuser may be emotionally unstable. Sometimes, the caregiver can no longer cope with a stressful situation and does not know where to turn for help.

Reporting Abuse

Many who suffer from abuse may feel ashamed and embarrassed and suffer from low self esteem. Some don’t want to report their own child as an abuser. Often the abused simply fears more abuse if they report it. Others are too feeble to think clearly, or they may not realize that help is available.

You Can Help

It’s up to you to break the silence. Certain people are required by law to report abusers. They are conservators and guardians, court-appointed mental retardation advocates, police officers, licensed health professionals, health care administrators and social workers. Others such as neighbors, church members, relatives, and friends may report voluntarily. Persons reporting voluntarily need not identify themselves.


Stop the Abuse – Who to Call

Washington, DC

Call the hotline report adult/elder abuse, neglect, or exploitation at 202-541-3950.


All suspected cases of Adult Abuse and Neglect should be reported to your local DSS Office or by calling 1-800-91-PREVENT or 1-800-917-7383. Click here for a list of DSS offices.


Call the hotline to report adult/elder abuse, neglect, or exploitation at 1-800-898-4910.