Report Adult Abuse and Neglect

Disabled adults or disabled emancipated minors present in North Carolina who are reported to be abused, neglected, or exploited, and in need to protective services are eligible to receive this service without regard to income.

North Carolina law requires that anyone suspecting that an adult is being abused, neglected, or exploited must report their concerns to their County Department of Social Services. Per G.S. § 108A-102: Any person having reasonable cause to believe that a disabled adult is in need of protective services must report it to their local county DSS. Anyone who makes a report shall be immune from any civil or criminal liability, unless such person acted in bad faith or with a malicious purpose.

How to Report

It is the law that any person who has reasonable cause to believe that a disabled person is in need of Protective Services must report the case the county Social Services Department (NCGS 108A-102). The reporters identity is kept confidential unless a court of law orders disclosure. 

If you suspect an at-risk adult may be experiencing mistreatment or is self-neglecting his or her basic needs, call the Carteret County DSS at (252) 728-3181 Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.. After hours, on weekends and holidays, call 911 or (252) 726-1911 and request for an on-call social worker. A social worker will listen to your concerns and document all information given. The following information is needed when making a report:

  • The name and address of the disabled adult
  • The name and address of the disabled adult's caretaker
  • The age of the disabled adult
  • The nature and extent of the disabled adult's injury or condition resulting from the abuse, neglect, or exploitation
  • Any other pertinent information

When a Report is Received

The allegations in the report will be screened to see if they meet the legal definition of abuse, neglect, or dependency. The department has jurisdiction only when the alleged mistreatment falls within legal definitions and was committed or allowed by the parent or caretaker. If the allegations and alleged perpetrator meet these criteria, an investigation is opened. If a report is not accepted for investigation/assessment, the person reporting the abuse has a right to challenge this decision through an agency review process.

Learn More About Reporting to APS

Below is helpful information when making a report but, even if you don't have all this information and you think an at-risk adult is being mistreated, you should still make a report.

  • What prompted the call today? Did something happen?
  • How is the adult being mistreated? When did you last see the adult?
  • Does the adult have any medical or physical conditions that impair the adult's ability to provide for day-to-day needs?
  • Does the adult have a diagnosed mental illness or show signs of a mental illness?
  • Does the adult have any problems with memory, decision making, or understanding how to care for him/herself?
  • Does the adult have any developmental, intellectual, or cognitive disability that is impairing the ability for self-care?
  • Has there been any decline in the adult's ability to adequately do cooking, shopping, using available transportation, managing medications, or mobility?
  • Is the adult working with any service providers to address his/her needs? Any friends or family who are supportive?
  • Have any actions been taken yet that address your concerns?
  • Can you think of anyone else who might have additional information that we could contact?

If your call is about caretaker neglect:

  • Remember that a caretaker can be paid or unpaid, family, a home health provider, spouse, child, neighbor, friend, or facility staff.
  • Does the caretaker misuse drugs or alcohol?
  • Does the caretaker isolate or prevent outside contact with the adult?
  • Does the adult demonstrate fear of the caretaker?
  • Is the caretaker financially dependent on the adult?
  • Is the caretaker depriving the adult of basic necessities?

If your call is about exploitation:

  • Is anyone using the adult's money for their own personal needs without the adult's knowledge?
  • Has the adult's bank account been depleted?
  • Is there an unexplained disappearance of funds or valuables?
  • Has there been questionable transfer of assets or real estate?

If your call is about physical abuse or sexual abuse:

  • Does the adult have any current injuries?
  • Does the alleged abuser have access to the adult?
  • Does the adult demonstrate any fear of the alleged abuser?
  • Has the adult experienced any pain as a result of the abuse?

If your call is about self-neglect:

  • Is the adult malnourished or dehydrated as a result of self-neglect?
  • Is the adult's hygiene poor resulting in health hazards?
  • Is the adult hoarding and as a result the living situation is unsafe?
  • Does the adult have any untreated medical or mental health needs?
  • Is the adult homeless?
  • Is the adult aware of his/her needs?
  • Is the adult able to provide for his/her own basic needs?


Types of Abuse

  • Physical: Striking, hitting, pushing, shoving, physical restraint, lack of medical care
  • Sexual: Non-consensual acts, sexual assault, sexual exploitation
  • Emotional/Psychological: Threats, insults, intimidation, harassment, isolation
  • Financial: Fraud, forgery, identity theft, scams, embezzlement
  • Neglect: Denial of or inadequate food, clothing, shelter, medical care, provision for basic needs

Learn more about types of abuse from the National Center of Elder Abuse.

Possible Signs of Abuse

  • Bruises, swelling, fractures, cuts, wounds, rope marks or unexplained/untreated injuries
  • Sudden change in behavior
  • Report from medical professional of possible abuse
  • Caregiver's refusal to allow visitors to see elder alone