Adults of all ages with developmental as well as physical disabilities can be the victims of abuse. Abuse can be physical, sexual, verbal, emotional and/or financial mistreatment. The abuser can be a paid caregiver, family member or a provider working with the individual.
Abuse can occur in any location, most often, the abuse occurs when no one else is around to see it. Abusers count on their victims not knowing what’s happening or not being able to tell anyone what is going on. If the victim is vocal about the mistreatment, abusers may feel confident the victim won’t be believed.
If you believe a loved one or perhaps a friend or neighbor is being abused or neglected, it’s important to report it. You can do that in any of these ways:
- Call the Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities (DODD) Abuse and Neglect Hotline at 1-800-617-6733.
- Call the MUI (major unusual incident) Reporting Hotline for your county board of developmental disabilities.
- Report it online on the Ohio DODD website https://dodd.ohio.gov/
- Report it to your county’s Adult Protective Services or call 1-855-OHIO-APS or report it online at https://aps.jfs.ohio.gov
You can make these reports anonymously. It’s always crucial to consider the safety of the potential victim and your own safety when reporting suspected abuse. Of course, if a person is in imminent danger, call 911.
If you’re the one suffering abuse, you can reach out on your own behalf. The important thing is to tell someone you trust. If the first person you tell can’t or won’t help, keep reaching out until someone does help. Seeking legal guidance confidentially is always an option.
Who are mandatory reporters?
Note that some people are mandatory reporters. That means if they suspect or know of abuse, they are legally required to report it to the proper authorities. Typically, they are trained to handle this reporting in a way that will not further endanger anyone. Mandatory reporters in Ohio include doctors, nurses and other medical providers, social workers, mental health professionals and teachers. If you or a loved one is being abused, you can reach out to someone in one of these professions if you do not feel comfortable reaching out on your own.
If you suspect abuse but are not sure about what is going on, it can help to learn some of the signs of abuse. It is important not to delay. If you need help getting appropriate care and other resources for yourself or a loved one, seek professional guidance to assist in averting new opportunities for abuse.