Back to What is harm?

Throughout Scotland, adults are at risk from all kinds of harm. Harm can be physical, psychological, financial or sexual. Harm can also mean neglect. These stories describe some kinds of harm that people may experience.

Physical harm – Paul's story

Mum and Dad got married in 1959. That’s over 50 years together. Three children and eight grandchildren later, you’d think they’d be happy. Spending time with each other. Enjoying their retirement. But since Dad took ill, Mum’s cared for him.

It’s a tough job being a full-time carer, and I was really worried about the whole situation. Neither of them’s getting any younger and at times I noticed it was getting too much for her. Well it would. All that cooking, cleaning, washing and driving. She’d get tired and frustrated. But it’s not Dad’s fault.

A few months ago things got out of hand. All he did was drop some shopping, but she yelled at him and pushed him out of the way. He fell on the driveway and broke his wrist. That’s when I had to do something.

So I called the number to get support. First thing they did was get Mum some help round the house. Then they got her some professional support. She’s calmer now. And Dad’s safer. I sleep better, too.

Psychological harm – Omar's story

All my life my Dad’s been hard on me. Since I was a kid he's shouted a lot. Told me I was useless. At reading. At writing. At everything. It’s not my fault I have trouble learning stuff.

You start to believe the things he’d say. He’s always telling me I’m a disappointment. That I’ve let the family down. In the end you give up trying. It’s hopeless. There’s no pleasing him.

I’m twenty five now. But he’s still the same. Enough, I thought. This can’t go on. So I called the number. The people listened. And listened. Got loads off my chest. Years worth. They helped me work things out. Gave me some confidence. I’m getting stronger. And a lot happier.

Financial harm – Maureen's story

My daughter got herself into debt. At first I was happy to help out. Well, I was a bit worried. £5 here. £10 there. I could just about afford that. But then she kept asking for more and more. Sometimes I had to say no.

Once I caught her taking money out of my purse. Then I noticed some of my things went missing. A nice ornament and some of my jewellery just disappeared. I found out she had sold them. That really hurt me. You never imagine your own flesh and blood could do such a thing. One day she took my bank card, then made me tell her my card number.

It’s not easy. I haven’t got the strength for this kind of thing. But I couldn’t let it go on. So I plucked up the courage and called the number. I needn’t have worried because they put me in touch with a really nice person. She came round and we had a really good heart to heart. Then she had a word with my daughter. Next thing I know she’s arranged for some special counselling to help with my daughter’s money worries and what have you. What a relief.

Sexual harm – Stacey's story

I was just a girl when I was put in care. It wasn’t easy. But I’m eighteen now and ready to live my life.

But there’s this man. He’s made me do things I don’t want to. I thought he was a pal. Bought me drink. Food. Even a necklace once. But then he got nasty. Wanted something back. Sometimes I had to stay round his flat. And he took advantage. It’s horrible. He’s dirty. And disgusting. I feel dirty. And disgusting.

A mate told me about this number. I was nervous, but I gave it a call. The people were good. Really listened. I could trust them. They see I’m safe. And away from him.

Neglect – Old Jim's story

I was really worried about my neighbour. Old Jim on the corner. I used to see him out, shuffling along with his stick. But not for ages.

His wife died, then he went downhill really quickly. I’m not sure how he got his shopping, or how he managed if he needed a doctor. I never saw any visitors. There must be some family. Surely. It was so sad. He’d just sit there, staring out of the window for hours on end. I often wondered how I could help.

Then I saw this advert in the local paper. It was about how people suffer neglect. I thought that sounds like Jim, so I gave the number a call and I’m glad I did. They put me in touch with a really nice person who said he could help. They paid Jim a visit and next thing I know is he’s got a home-help and the district nurse visits. Someone’s even been along to tidy his garden. It’s good to know there’s help out there.

Are you (or someone you know) at risk of being harmed?

Help is available